I Like Your Nerve (1931, William C. McGann)

While I Like Your Nerve is urbanely genial, it’s a somewhat high concept romantic adventure comedy.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is a playboy–though not one of means–living it up in South America. He travels from country to country (they are, of course, so small he can drive) and stirs up trouble. But then he sees Loretta Young and it’s love at first sight.

Luckily she’s engaged (or Nerve would have no plot) and he has to win her away from her fiancé. The fiancé in question, played by Edmund Breon, is an old pervert with the runs. Literally. Nerve is gloriously indiscreet in its character details, a benefit of being pre-Code (another example is Fairbanks’s buddy, Claud Allister, who’s out of the closet).

Here’s where the high concept comes in… Fairbanks doesn’t so much have to win Young’s affections, but he needs to deal with her corrupt, but lovable, step-father (Henry Kolker) who’s selling her to Breon. Kolker is a government official, so Fairbanks has to tread lightly.

Nerve never gets particularly good, but it’s always mildly charming… sort of like Fairbanks. The whole point of his performance is to be charming; he succeeds. A textured performance isn’t his goal.

Young shows a fair amount of range in her role, though it’s a poorly written one. Kolker and Breon are both okay; once they get together and start arguing they’re fantastic.

Peter Fritch’s weak editing hurts McCann’s otherwise sturdy direction a bit.

Nerve is a pleasant diversion.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by William C. McGann; screenplay by Roland Pertwee, based on an adaptation by Houston Branch; director of photography, Ernest Haller; edited by Peter Fritch; music by David Mendoza; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (Larry O’Brien), Loretta Young (Diane Forsythe), Henry Kolker (Areal Pacheco), Claud Allister (Archie Lester), Edmund Breon (Clive Lattimer) and Boris Karloff (Luigi, Pacheco’s butler).


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