For the 20th Century Fox Publicity Department
When I first came to Hollywood after five years with the radio chains a number of sympathetic souls maneuvered me into a corner for a heart-to-heart talk.
They were a little bit slow in coming to the point, but at least one hardy soul saw no further advantage to beating around the bush.
“Don,” he said, “you look fine in your tests, but there’s one thing that has to be improved. You’ve got to learn how to make love.”
“That’s funny,” I said, “I’m married and have two children.”
“Marriage is something else again,” replied the sympathetic souls. “We’re interested in the love that draws shop girls and stenographers to theatres.”
“Well, I must confess that I didn’t know much about that type of romance, and I thanked the gentlemen for their suggestions. Being a practical sort of person, I decided to investigate. First of all, I forgot the thing until I saw Tyrone Power practicing the art on Loretta Young in “Love IS News.”
I am also in that picture, but not in the capacity of a lover.
“Had I taken the advice of the sympathetic souls some months ago,” I said to myself, “I might have been Kissing Miss Young myself.”
At any rate, I decided to look into the love-making tradition insofar as picture work was concerned. I studied the work of all the latest lovers and did some research work on the old timers and came naturally to the conclusion that Randolph Valentino was the best of them all.
Valentino was the impetuous type. He kept his film ladies in a state of flustered retreat until about the fifth reel when they tired. Then along about this time Rudy would slow up and make the ladies chase him. This was a very effective technique, but not for me.
Mrs. Ameche wouldn’t care for this type of lover.
Then I saw Robert Taylor in one of his current pictures. Mr. Taylor differed from Mr. Valentino only in respect to minor details. Valentino, once the moment had come to clinch would crush the lady until her breath failed her. In this weakened condition Rudy would smother her under an epic kiss that lasted fully two minutes.
Mr. Taylor, when he kisses a screen lady, wears a smile which seems to say:
“You know my dear, that you’re not the only girl I’ve kissed.”
I’m sure Mrs. Ameche wouldn’t understand this.
Another similar type is Franchot Tone whose special technique is to kid his film sweetheart into submission. A superior lover, he seems a little ashamed of being sentimental in public, which is why Mrs. Tone always does his best film love-making behind half closed doors.
Mrs. Ameche says no to this.
Also in the group of gentlemen who practice finess [sic] is or was John Barrymore. Mr. Barrymore’s method, I discovered, was to treat his lady with mixed elements of scorn and disdain until the closing reels of the picture demanded something warmer for the cash customers. Then he would spring into action, garner the lady commandingly into his arms and bite her neck.
Mrs. Ameche says she would slap my face if I bit her neck.
Leaving the filed of finess [sic] for a moment we come to the understanding type, headed by Herbert Marshall and Warner Baxter. These gentlemen are by no means impetuous, but they get their girls just the same. Mr. Baxter, who figures he has made love to some 400 film ladies, plays a plodding game. Like a chess player her makes every move a deliberate advance toward a goal. The pattern of his love-making demands that there be several defeats, but he takes these so chivalrously that in the end the lady loves him for his own sweet sense.
Mr. Marshall is somewhat the same type. Like Mr. Baxter he doesn’t push Fate. Both these gentlemen are the good husband type. A girl may chase after the Valentinos and Taylors for months, but in the end they marry the Marshalls and the Baxters.
And the Don Ameches, says Mrs. Ameche.
The sock ‘em type is led by Clark Gable. Mr. Gable is a two-fisted, 20th Century lover, who plies his cinematic romance with robust homor[?]. When he loves them they stay that way for eight or nine reels. But on occasion the lady affects coyness and Mr. Gable, in bringing her back to her senses, slaps her anniefay, which seems to take all the dignity out of her and the coyness as well. However, he does all this with a roguish, boyish smile, and the lady who doesn’t love that kind of treatment never lived.
Mrs. Ameche still thinks she’ll keep me.
James Cagney is something of the same type, I discovered, except that he doesn’t smile when he socks the lady of his heart.
The boyish type a girl things she can trust in a lonely mountain cabin is still another interesting type. Gary Cooper belongs to this idealistic group. Gary’s love-making, in most cases, fits the strictest requirements of the Board of Censors. He believes that womanhood should be kept inviolate and any decent girl can safely trust herself to him.
Also in this category is David Niven. Mr. Niven is the type who could invite a girl for a walk through a dark tunnel without getting a blush for an answer. Neither Mr. Niven’s nor the girl’s hair would be ruffled when they emerged. This could not be true of the Barrymores, the Gables, and the Taylors.
The slack-haired lovers are typified by George Raft and Caeser Romero. Both of these gentlemen are and were dancers and they make love with graceful movements. Mr. Raft, however, is sinister in his approaches, while Mr. Romero is clear as daylight.
Ronald Colman is one of the subtlest lovers the screen has ever known. He is the distinguished type every woman wants for decorative purposes. This is no slander against Mr. Colman. As a lover, he has no superior. His technique is a compound of restrained grace, intellectuality, and, when he gets down to business, virility. He is what the average man thinks he ought to be.
But Mrs. Ameche shakes her head.
Leslie Howard is the screen’s sole remaining esthetic lover. With his head in the clouds his mind in a wealth of poetry, and his lips formulating cultivated sentences, he does right well as a romancer. He is the eternal Romeo climbing balconies in the moonlight.
Well, I’ve enumerated all the great lovers that I know of. And I can’t makeup my mind what type I’d like to be. There’s something in the Barrymore system and if you could mix a little of that with some Gable technique and Colman finesse, there’s no telling to what heights Ameche might rise.
But I seem destined to be disappointed for Mrs. Ameche has taken a hand in the matter.
Only a few days ago she maneuvered the 20th Century-fox studio executives into a a corner and omerged [sic] smiling. It seems that from now on I’m to learn nothing new about love.
Mrs. Ameche prefers me as I am.