Like most lame melodramas, Disgraced‘s plot only works because characters all of a sudden act completely differently than the story has previously established them. Disgraced concerns a department store model (Helen Twelvetrees) who starts hanging around a regular customer’s fiancé. Romance ensues.
She’s got to hide the affair from her father, who would rather she marry an insurance agent of questionable professional morality.
Twelvetrees is good when she’s the protagonist, but she loses that role in the narrative during the third act and things get problematic. As the film gets more absurd, her performance suffers.
As her loafing, rich kid beau, Bruce Cabot does a fine job. Disgraced doesn’t give its actors much to do so it’d be hard for one to be bad. Sadly, as Cabot’s unfaithful fiancée, Adrienne Ames is bad. So’s William Harrigan as Twelvetrees’s father. But at least Harrigan is earnest.
Ken Murray plays the insurance agent and he’s okay. Like I said, there’s not much for anyone to do. Disgraced runs just over an hour; there isn’t room for subplots.
Kenton does a surprisingly good job of directing. Not because he’s generally incompetent, but because he finds little moments in the picture where he can really showcase the technical. He’s got a rather nice crane shot for one of the street scenes and he manages to keep it visually interesting.
Besides some decent acting (for a while), Disgraced‘s only singular feature is the fantastic opening cast introductions. They’re little scenes for each actor. It’s ingenious.
Directed by Erle C. Kenton; screenplay by Alice D.G. Miller and Francis Martin, based on a story by Miller; director of photography, Karl Struss; music by John Leipold; produced by Bayard Veiller; released by Paramount Pictures.
Starring Helen Twelvetrees (Gay Holloway), Bruce Cabot (Kirk Undwood, Jr.), Adrienne Ames (Julia Thorndyke), William Harrigan (Pat Holloway), Ken Murray (Jim McGuire), Charles Middleton (District Attorney) and Willard Mack (Defense Attorney).