LOVE IS BETTER THAN EVER || 1952, USA || Romantic Comedy || Directed by – Stanley Donen / Produced by – William H. Wright / Written by – Ruth Brooks Filippen / Music by – Lennie Hayton / Cinematography by – Harold Rosson / Edited by – George Boemler / Starring – Larry Parks, Elizabeth Taylor / Running time: 81 mins.
Talent agent and confirmed bachelor Jud Parker (Larry Parks) falls in love with Stacie (Elizabeth Taylor) a young small-town girl who owns a successful dance school in New Haven, Connecticut. When she travels from there to New York City to attend a seemingly important dance convention, she “takes leave of her duties” to go on a date with Jud, who takes her out to a baseball game. When news of this affair gets out, thanks to jealous owners of a rival dance school, her reputation is threatened and her students begin to drop out.
Stanley Donen’s Love is Better than Ever is a romantic comedy that rests on outdated ideas of sexuality and morality. The possible satire of the leading sleazy talent agent is far too dark in this exercise, and is quickly dropped out in favour of a more traditionalist and less convincing screwball romance.
Adultery, in this format, is posed as the threatening element, which is implied when used against them, and Stacie in particular, in the rumours spread by the jealous owners of a rival dance school. On the other hand, the lack of adultery in this romance is meant to endorse it in the eye of the viewer, who will therefore be led to believe in the purity and sacrosanctity of their love.
The screwball comedy side of the film, which is meant to be full of quick-witted remarks and one-liners, is actually quite weak. Parks and Taylor share little chemistry, although it must be said that Taylor looks as beautiful as ever, and her youthful image is exploited in her dance-tights, which she is often seen wearing in this film.
Interesting to note, Love is Better than Ever was shot early in 1951 but was not released until a year later, due to Larry Parks being blacklisted during the Hollywood for alleged Communist leanings. The film, nevertheless, did not fare well at the box office and is now largely forgotten. – 2/5