Tonight or Never (1930)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Showbiz Comedy, Sophisticated Comedy  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Tonight or Never may not be a classic, but it does feature the delectable Gloria Swanson giving the lie to the rumor that she couldn't cut it once the talkies came in. Her career may indeed have petered out, but that has more to do with changing tastes than with the star's inability to handle dialogue. Indeed, Swanson is a thorough delight in Tonight (as she was in many of her post-silent films), spewing out comic lines with ease and putting a flirtatious spin on words, and even parts of words, that is a joy. She may have been a little old for the part of a terribly young opera singer, but one buys her. She also looks sensational in her Coco Chanel costumes. Swanson is well matched by the young Melvyn Douglas, demonstrating that he could more than hold his own with a star of Swanson's league and ability. Alison Skipworth is her usual amusing self, and there's even a chance to catch a pre-Frankenstein Boris Karloff in a comedic bit. Unfortunately, the good cast has to struggle with material that is only so-so and direction that is merely adequate. The film belies its stage origins and could have benefited from an approach that took the talkier scenes and found a more cinematic way of presenting them.