Friday, January 8, 2016

Movie Spotlight: First Love (1939)

Except... it wasn’t first love for me. I wept and gnashed my teeth over it (pretty image, is it not? :)). The teacher was too nasty (I said)… her family was odious… and that was the end of the matter for me. Or so I thought.

But then, months later, I saw it again and (what is that line from Tangled? “And it's like the sky is new”).. I know that’s a romance song, but that part is so true for this story. Because I fell totally in love.

So it’s through those new eyes that I present this review –

First thought: Connie’s teacher is rather hard, but it’s the hardness of love that teaches what the world is like so that it won’t crush and then shows that love can be found even in the busiest, blindest of places.

But what is this place? The sparkly splendor of 30’s high society, complete with its crazy fur, dainty high-heels, and the swirling shimmer of the ladies’ shining skirts… It’s the stuff dreams are made of and, believe me, the perfect setting for a Cinderella story!

This movie has, I think, the funniest meeting between Cinderella and her “prince”, which gets only more comical as I think of the other versions. Ever After has him (ahem) borrowing her horse (such a little gentleman :)) and Cinderella 2015 has them both riding (love that scene so much!) But in this one Connie, obeying the order of her cousin to delay Ted Drake (i.e. The Prince) till she gets there, lures away his horse with some sugar cubes from the place where he tied it. And hence proceeds the most hysterical game of tag: with Connie in front and the horse galloping after, with Ted in hot pursuit. After which Ted very niftily pretty much saves her life. Totally adorable, I do assure you. :)

From there, the story only gets sweeter, from the interference of the “Nasty Stepsister” to the dreamiest ball sequence. Connie and Ted dance to a medley of Strauss waltzes thus instantly putting Strauss, and waltzing in general on my list of the Most Romantic Things Ever. The dance also includes the neatest fade-out effect with the other couples fading away, leaving them dancing in an empty ballroom and then having a lovely conversation on the terrace which overlooks New York City.

The entire story is entwined with songs that are variously joyful and as heartbreaking as they come. But the best moment? The end of course. (I’m skipping over the dividing part on purpose because second only to Slipper and the Rose it is the most heart-wrenching of the Cinderella partings.)

But I won’t tell you much of it… only that it is stirring, tugging your heartstrings, and utterly lovely with promises of a future all the brighter for dear Connie.

Aren't they the cutest ever?!!

Thus ends one of the loveliest (in both senses of the word) movies of all time, leaving you with a sigh of the dreamiest kind, a nice cozy feeling that glows to the tips of your fingers, and the feeling that love at first sight might just be possible after all.

Note: This review was first posted for Heidi's Cinderella Week and Miss Laurie's 2016 Period Drama Challenge!


  1. Awww! I've never heard of this movie but it looks really sweet. :D I'll have to check it out. Great review, Eowyn!

    1. Faith,
      Thank you! And it certainly is one of those simple yet extremely heart-warming stories. :)

  2. I've seen this once before, a long time ago, and now I REALLY want to see it again! It's so sweet! :) Great job reviewing it!

    1. Natalie,
      Thank you. :) And I hope you can see it again very soon!

  3. Ohhh, that last picture of the two of them.... Sooooo adorable! :) (In fact, I truly love all the pictures. ;)) And you perfectly, perfectly captured the very tone of the entire thing... I love it!!!

    1. Heidi,
      Thanks! The entire thing was a whirl of spur of the moment inspiration and was rather exciting to record. :)

  4. This looks so sweet! One of these days, I'll find it, I'm sure. I love the costumes, the modern setting -- it sounds just dreamy!

    1. Hamlette,
      It is a dream! And I think you might just love it. :)

  5. I first learned about this movie when Heidi listed it on her blog as one of the reviews for Cinderella week. I have been excited to read about it ever since! (I love old movies.) After I read this delightful review I knew I had to see the movie. (It helped that it had Robert Stack in it. I first saw him in "A Date with Judy" and as I loved him in that, blue suit...oh, no, I meant the movie, I couldn't wait to see him as the 'Prince'.)

    So I went and bought a VHS version (thank you, cheap EBay) because I couldn't find a DVD and I borrowed my grandparent's TV. (Because we don't have a TV that actually plays VHS anymore.)

    It was charming! Connie's dress for the ball is so pretty! I liked all the modern twists that were added to eliminate the need for 'magic'. (The police escort for horses and the servants helping with the dress! :))

    Ted and Connie's first meeting is great! :D But, did you suffer any second-hand embarrassment for Connie when she went up to sing at the ball?! I know I did, even though the situation didn't turn awkward in the movie.

    I can see why you thought the teacher was a little harsh but I think that was because she had seen 'Connie's case' so often before and just wanted the girls to snap out of things.

    But oh, my stars! That cousin is probably one of the meanest 'step-sisters' I've ever seen! She is horrid! When she lies about Ted imitating Connie back at the ball I just want to explode! But I think the Uncle does a 'bang-up' job at the end. (Forgive the pun.) Perhaps he was a little too extreme...what do you think? It was a bit much for me.

    However, I feel like I'm babbling a little now and I don't won't to bore you. Thanks for the review, Eowyn!

    1. Cordy,
      This party has been just great for (among other things, of course) finding so many neat stories! My list of movies and books has just grown by leaps and bounds!

      You've seen and loved this one!!! I'm so excited. :) The only other thing I've seen Robert Stack in is Good Morning Miss Dove, but he was totally nice and charming (in a totally good way!) in that, too and I really want to see him in more!

      Her singing part didn't really bother me much as it seemed like everyone else at the party was utterly delighted by her, but the part with the uncle...! Yikes! The first time especially I was completely started and somewhat horrified by his behavior and I still think it is a bit much. :)

      That is a great description of the teacher!

      Thank you so much for your delightfully long comment!!! I'm SO glad you left it. :)

    2. Eowyn,
      I know! The Cinderella party was so helpful! :)

      I've never seen Good Morning Miss Dove, perhaps I should look it up. I do recommend A Date with Judy. (If you like Robert Stack. :))

      Yes, the uncle is too much! Haha.

      Thanks again for your review!

    3. Cordy,
      I saw Good Morning Miss Dove on Youtube scarce two months back, so if you wish to check it out it might still be there! And yes, I definitely like Robert Stack. :)

  6. I have seen this one a couple of times and aw, it's so cute! But then most of Deanna's are. :)

    1. Rissi,
      Deanna Durbin's are some of the most adorable films ever! I love how you can pop one in and be almost 100% sure you're going to have a cozy time. Really (in that way) the experience is quite like watching a Shirley Temple film!


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