Come and Get It (1936)

Genres - Action, Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Nov 6, 1936 (USA)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Come and Get It is a mostly-forgotten adaptation of Edna Ferber's sprawling novel; when it is remembered, it's usually for containing one of the rare performances by the tragically fated Frances Farmer. Farmer's work here is certainly worth remembering; she pulls off the difficult trick of playing a mother and a daughter with ease and reveals the charisma that might have made her a major star, had her personal problems not intervened. Modern viewers who have heard of her but never actually seen her acting will be fascinated, but they'll probably also be surprised to find that hers is not the film's best performance. That goes hands down to Edward Arnold, whose powerhouse presence dominates the film. It's a rich performance, filled with subtle touches that greatly enhance the character and the film. By contrast, Walter Brennan's Oscar-winning performance comes across today as good, but not special. The film itself is uneven, largely because two people officially directed it. (A third handled the eye-popping logging sequence.) The hand of Howard Hawks is very much in evidence during the more masculine first half, while the more sensitive second half seems to bear William Wyler's touch -- but neither man is operating at the top of his game. Blame the screenplay, which is over-plotted and melodramatic, more interested in wringing out emotions than in pulling them up honestly. Fortunately, the cast makes up for many of these deficiencies, with the result that Come and Get It is imminently watchable, if not great cinema.