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At a party for Bright Young Things, a "treasure hunt" for attractive yet virtuous people nets Sir Christopher Strong, M.P., and Lady Cynthia Darrington, dashing aviatrix. Their acquaintance is innocent at first; but after he sees her in a spectacular silver moth costume, virtue begins to wane. Against their wills, they are drawn into an affair whose consequences threaten Strong's happy marriage and both their careers.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
An interesting role for Hepburn early in her career
This film is Katharine Hepburn's second film and her first in a starring role. In her first film, 1932's "A Bill of Divorcement", Billie Burke had starred with Hepburn fourth billed. Here the situation has reversed itself, and Hepburn supplants Burke in more ways than one. Hepburn plays Lady Cynthia Darrington, a member of the British gentry whose family has lost its money. As a result, she pursues aviation for both her love of it and for money to try and restore the family fortune. She has forsaken love up to this point in her life, and as the result of a human scavenger hunt at a party attended by one of her friends, she winds up at the party because she is a virgin, and Christopher Strong (Colin Clive) winds up there because he is a faithful husband to Billie Burke's character. The two meet, fall in love, and eventually this leads to the loss of what distinguished both of them in the first place.
There are several things that make this film interesting - not the least of which being that Hepburn's role turns out to be semi-autobiographical. In actuality Hepburn was an athletic and independent woman of aristocratic roots who fell for a married Spencer Tracy who also never technically divorced his wife. Then there's that metallic moth suit complete with antennae that Cynthia wears to a party - yikes! And the middle-aged Lord Strong doesn't even do a double take when she walks in wearing this outfit. So much for the stuffy image of the British aristocracy. The ending is odd since it doesn't seem consistent with Cynthia's strong independent streak. Her solution to her dilemma when she realizes that, although Strong loves her, he would only actually leave his wife out of a sense of duty to Cynthia, seems completely out of character. Also, Billie Burke does such a good job of playing the wronged wife who suffers in silence and dignity that it is really hard to sympathize with anyone but her. Finally, the title is a bit of a mystery. The title character, Christopher Strong, is really secondary to Hepburn's Cynthia Darrington, and I can't help but wonder why the film wasn't titled after Hepburn's character instead.
Director Dorothy Arzner, the only female director in Hollywood during this time, certainly took some chances with this one. Some of the film worked and some of it didn't, but I don't think it would have had a chance without Hepburn in the lead. I recommend this film to anyone interested in the evolution of Hepburn's acting style.
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