Mill Creek Musings: Reaching for the Moon (1930)

Larry Day (Douglas Fairbanks) is the big man on Wall Street: successful, smart and very influential. He is known as “a modern financial wizard.”

Having spent so much time and energy focusing on his career, Larry is not very skilled in the ways of romance. He has little social life at all, in fact. Given advice by his valet (Edward Everett Horton), Larry decides to follow Vivian Benton (Bebe Daniels), the apple of his eye, onto an ocean liner in hopes to win her over.

(Image via douglasfairbanks.org)
(Image via douglasfairbanks.org)

But in following her onto the ship, Larry completely neglects his duties on Wall Street. Will he lose his fortunes and his love by the time the whole ordeal is over?

Edmund Goulding directs 1930’s Reaching for the Moon. Goulding also wrote the script, based on a story and music by Irving Berlin.

Reaching for the Moon appears in Mill Creek’s 50 Classic Musicals set. Originally running at about 90 minutes, Mill Creek’s print of the film runs at only 66. Unfortunately, the remaining 24 minutes of the film don’t appear to be available in any print. Most surviving prints are around 60 minutes long.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

While I’m glad that two thirds of the film’s original run time could be salvaged somehow, the quality of this film in the 50 Musicals box isn’t great. There’s a lot of wear and tear on the print, though the sound isn’t too bad.

There’s no telling whether those 24 minutes would have improved the amount of enjoyment the viewer gets from the film. As it exists, Reaching for the Moon is somewhat inconsistent. The story is light and oftentimes slow-moving. There are a few zany moments of comedy thrown in, but also a dramatic edge as the story nears its end. Usually I like a mix of moods in a film, but here the dramatic moments don’t have much impact, and the comedy isn’t laugh-out-loud.

On a brighter note, the film has lovely sets, done in a very modern, art deco design. The music is lively, beginning with the very jazzy, instrumental opening tune, and Bing Crosby even makes an appearance, in an early and uncredited role.

The cast is also quite nice. Edward Everett Horton shines in his role of the valet and is the most entertaining part of the film. His scenes with Fairbanks, as the valet coaches Larry on how to win over a lady, are a lot of fun. Their characters are total opposites (Larry a workaholic who is clueless in social situations, the valet a fun-loving and very outgoing man), and the two actors play well off of each other.

Reaching for the Moon may have been a great film, had its whole 90 minutes been preserved. The version that can be found in Mill Creek’s 50 Classic Musicals set, however, is just okay. Worth a watch for fans of Edward Everett Horton, but it’s nothing spectacular.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

 

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