One Sunday Afternoon (1933) ***
This disarming bucolic comedy drama begins with frustrated dentist Cooper preparing to kill the former friend he holds responsible for a lifetime of romantic disappointment when he comes to his surgery years later to have a tooth removed. ("I want gas." "You'll get gas.")
From this splendid black comic opening the film flashes back twenty years, when both were young men in love with the same woman.
Cooper is a delight in both segments, as are Fay Wray and Frances Fuller as the women over whom their rivalry is founded, and Roscoe Karns as Cooper's ne'er-do-well pal. The film is also charming in its evocation of the period.
Remade pleasantly but with less distinction in 1941 as The Strawberry Blonde, with James Cagney and Rita Hayworth, and then again under its original title in 1948, this remains the definitive version, with a much darker undertone, and Wray enjoying the liberties of pre-Code to show her character's transformation over the years from prim young woman to blowsy tramp.