D: Walter Lang / 70m
Cast: Carole Lombard, Preston Foster, Cesar Romero, Janet Beecher, Betty Lawford, Richard Carle
Enamoured with ambitious would-be executive Bill Wadsworth (Romero), Kay Colby (Lombard) can’t wait to marry him. However, she doesn’t reckon on Bill’s boss Scott Miller (Foster) who also loves Kay and will do anything to come between the two lovebirds. Scott offers Bill a promotion in Japan; when he takes up the offer, Bill leaves behind a disappointed Kay and a delighted Scott. He makes every attempt to woo Kay and get her to give up Bill but Kay remains committed to her (now) long-distance relationship.
Scott “coincidentally” runs into Kay at every opportunity, but his persistence has the opposite effect at first, causing Kay to resent his attentions. As time goes by, Kay begins to soften but remains Bill’s girl. When Scott makes a calamitous mistake and Kay refuses to have anything further to do with him, he takes the advice of employee, Brinkerhoff (Carle) and brings Bill back to the US. Brinkerhoff tells Scott it will only be a matter of time before Kay realises she’s with the wrong man and loves Scott after all. When Bill returns, he’s even more ambitious than before, and sure enough, cracks begin to show in their relationship.
A light, frothy romantic comedy, Love Before Breakfast coasts along on Lombard’s considerable charm, and even softens Foster’s tough guy image in the process (though it’s hard not to imagine what William Powell or Clark Gable would have made of the role). As the battling pair, Lombard and Foster don’t always display the necessary chemistry, but what they have more than makes up for the complete lack of it between Lombard and Romero. Beecher is good as Kay’s mother, always supportive of Scott’s pursuing her daughter, and unwilling to indulge her daughter’s tantrums.
The script by Herbert Fields, from Faith Baldwin’s short story Spinster Dinner, contains some witty one-liners, and provides a lot of fun to be had at Lombard’s expense. There’s a steady pace maintained by director Lang, and the movie is always engaging and enjoyable, with Lombard displaying the comic timing that made her a star. If it’s ultimately predictable and tries a little to hard, it’s also pretty much irrelevant as there’s so much in the movie to be enjoyed.
Rating: 7/10 – a (very) minor gem raised up by the peerless Lombard, and scripted to just the right running time, Love Before Breakfast is cheerful and fun throughout; worth it just for the sight of Lombard and Romero getting drenched on a yacht.