review for Love Before Breakfast on AllMovie

Love Before Breakfast (1936)
by Craig Butler review

Star power is what Love Before Breakfast is all about, and the star in question is Carole Lombard. She takes a very shaky vehicle and sails it with great authority, never letting it sink or capsize, even when the going gets very rough -- and for the last half, it's pretty rough indeed, especially at the end. The blame for Love's problems, of course, is with the script. It's a typical romantic comedy, essentially of the screwball type but made before screwball comedy had really been created. It has some decent dialogue, and a few very decent scenes, but too much of the screenplay wobbles from moment to moment. It's also built on a shaky foundation. Its premise -- that a rich man can basically stalk a woman who doesn't want him and use his power and influence to manipulate events in her life and the livers of others to get what he wants -- is very difficult to pull off, and the director and writers are nowhere near up to the task. It doesn't help matters that leading man Preston Foster is also not up to the task. The role requires a William Powell or a Robert Montgomery, and Foster is neither of these men. This pretty much leaves everything up to Lombard, and she fortunately is up to the task. It's not one of her great performances -- the material doesn't allow for that -- but it demonstrates how the right actor in the right part can exert such command that she saves an entire picture by herself.