A minor but fairly entertaining romance among the "sophisticates," Man of the World is probably of most interest to fans of Carole Lombard interested in seeing the beautiful actress while she was still trying to define her screen persona. Regrettably, this is not one of Lombard's best performances. She does everything that is asked of her and does it perfectly well, but it's a performance that dozens of other attractive young women could have supplied. It lacks distinction and is a bit hesitant. Little of the vibrant radiance that would mark her in later roles is present here. Opposite her, her soon-to-be husband William Powell comes off much better, turning in a carefully shaded performance that is deceptive in its depth. It's Powell's picture, and he carries it beautifully; what he's asked to do in terms of plot and character is often ridiculous and forced by a writer's desire rather than by genuine sensibility, yet Powell makes it all work. A thinner than usual Guy Kibbee is also good, and Wynne Gibson's not-to-be-trifled with Irene is quite believable. Herman Mankiewicz's screenplay lacks credibility in its story and plot, but he turns out some crackling dialogue that makes up for its other shortcomings.
by Craig Butler review