Love is a Headache (1938)

Carlotta Lee (Gladys George), known by those close to her as “Charlie,” is an actress who is beginning to see her stage career take a downturn. Her latest play, A Lady of Experience, struggles to bring in audiences and faces a lot of negativity from Broadway commentators.

(Image via art.com)
(Image via art.com)

Peter Lawrence (Franchot Tone) is a well-known critic, the writer of a column called “Broadway Chatter.” Peter and Charlie grew up together, and though he frequently speaks poorly of her in his columns, he’s actually in love with her! He hopes that his columns will actually help Charlie’s career, steering her away from parts that are all wrong for her.

Pete’s efforts will inadvertently bring lots of publicity to Charlie’s career. After Pete broadcasts a story about two children (Mickey Rooney and Virginia Weidler) orphaned by the death of their father, Charlie’s PR man Jimmy (Ted Healy) decides that she should adopt them!

Richard Thorpe directs 1938’s Love is a Headache.

The members of this film’s cast all work very well together, which is Love is a Headache‘s strongest asset.

Rooney and Weidler are very believable as siblings. Weidler’s more emotional scenes border on corn — her fake crying isn’t the best! The scene in which Rooney reveals that their father has died, for example, only works because his emotional delivery is more sincere than Weidler’s.

The film is pretty light, however, and these kids don’t have to do much heavy-duty lifting in terms of drama. There aren’t many emotional scenes once they’re adopted, and the pair pulls of the “rambunctious siblings” side of the story easily throughout the rest of the film.

(Image via Fur Glamor)
(Image via Fur Glamour)

Gladys George and Franchot Tone also make quite a good pair. I always love watching couples who seem to hate each other a little bit despite their obvious affection for one another. Charlie and Peter certainly have plenty of reason to get frustrated with each other. They’re fun to watch, especially near the end of the film. (The literal “shotgun” wedding scene is great!)

The story is nothing too special — just a couple of publicity stunts and misunderstandings. It’s a thin story, but the quick pace, likable cast and solid performances keep the viewer entertained.

Love is a Headache is a decent family comedy. It isn’t packed with laughs, but the performances are good and it’s got quite a bit of charm. Not a bad way to spend 73 minutes. The score: 3.5/5

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