By Michael Moriarty
One of my favorite American films of all time is Idiot’s Delight; and now I learn it lost money?!
1939 and the beginning of World War II.
Clark Gable, in his only singing and dancing role, is an audience’s delight.
Norma Shearer, however, is even more unforgettable.
Despite the world’s poor reception to Robert E. Sherwood’s brilliant script, it is now considered, as it should be, an American Classic!
The wardrobe for Gable alone is worthy of its own Oscar.
And Norma Shearer doesn’t just perform the role of Irene, she devours it!
In both versions of a delightfully schizophrenic transformation, Norma Shearer explodes with the ecstasies of being a divine actress.
Her performance is a pure Audience’s Delight!
America and Hollywood greet the nightmare of World War II as they should:
It carries, even in 1939, the certainty that no matter how long it takes, we will beat the villains!
Of course, the screenplay is also a pacifist’s cri de Coeur.
However, the Gable/Shearer response to the inevitability of World War II is that of American realists.
Indeed, Europe and England would have slim hopes until America, pushed into the war by Imperial Japan, joined the Allies three years later.
Described as a “declining phase of her career” by Wikipedia, Norma Shearer’s performance in Idiot’s Delight has simply taken me by storm.
I found both of her “turns”, in a double role as actually the same woman, to be, as the term was often used back then, truly “divine”!
Reading about her, I find the reality of Norma Shearer even “more divine”.
Hers was a singularly American success story.
“Set your goal
The size of her ambition and her acting style reminded me of Katherine Hepburn with whom I worked in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.
Though Hepburn’s Wikipedia biography is far longer than that of Norma Shearer, I found Ms. Shearer’s talent and performing style certainly the equal of Ms. Hepburn’s.
I also found Ms. Shearer’s comic timing even better than Ms. Hepburn’s.
As must be sadly said, “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!!”
I certainly didn’t have one tenth of their ambition.
However, I wouldn’t change my life with anyone else’s.
The best is yet to come!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at email@example.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.