I tried another Sellers movie: The Battle of the Sexes. This is another dull film that can be easily skipped. Constance Cummings plays a corporate consultant, Angela Barrows, who makes acquaintance with the new owner of a Scottish tweed manufacturer which still does things the old-fashioned way.
The new owner (infatuated with the ball-buster) hires Barrows in hopes of more than just gaining efficiency. Peter Sellers plays Mr. Martin, the eldest employee of the company and its chief accountant. He works to undermine the newfangled techniques being instituted by Barrows.
There really isn’t much of a “battle of the sexes going on” although this is 1960 and women in such jobs are a new thing, and presumably resisted by the old guard such as Mr. Martin. But the movie has zero charm. Sellers over-acts his character and his opponent, played by Constance Cummings, is just a one-note screech. There is not the wit to make this rise to the level of comedy, let alone a plot worth following.
However, I watched another movie after this one. It’s a pre-CODE one from 1932, Frisco Jenny, with the underrated, and largely forgotten, Ruth Chatterton.
This is another film directed by William Wellman and I’m still trying to discern why he is held in such high regard. But I’d say aside from a few directorial pretensions, he directs this movie at a good, clear pace. In fact, the shame is that they couldn’t make this movie today because they would have drawn out the story to an eye-glazing length. But this is a crisp 73 minutes. Not all that much time is spent in any one place, but the story does not seem rushed. It just keeps moving on to tell the life of this successful woman in her tawdry business.
This is heavily plot-based so I can’t say much more about it. But one strange thing is the eyebrows on Dan McAllister (played by James Murray). They go halfway across his forehead. It’s the strangest thing. They look painted on. Here's a look at it, but it’s even more pronounced in the film. I know that’s superficial, but it just bugged me.
What didn’t bug me was the gritty story of Frisco Jenny, including a rather good special effects scene of an earthquake in San Francisco. Chatterton does a superb job. One reviewer noted she was the Bette Davis before there was a Bette Davis. I had previously seen her in Dodsworth which also was a pretty good film. FilmStruck also has her in Lily Turner but reviews on that one don’t look so good.