Saturday, September 18, 2010

Joyce in Unholy Love (1932)

Whether in a starring role or a non-speaking bit part, there was always something in Joyce Compton's movies that's worth looking into. I'm going to use this opportunity to go into each of her films which are currently available commercially - starting with the earliest, 1932's spicy Pre-Code Unholy Love. This film is a rather leaden, silly melodrama of infidelity within the country club set, based on Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Its main appeal is Joyce herself, sexy and appealing (and young!) in a rare dramatic role - and a sizable one to boot. Although she is third billed behind silent-era actors H. B. Warner and Lila Lee, Compton has the most screen time of the cast as a flirty gardener’s daughter who slinks her way into high society. It’s a fun role and she has a field day with it, even if at this early point in her career she doesn’t quite have the acting chops to effectively pull it off. Soon after this independent production wrapped, Joyce signed on with Mack Sennett's studio for a series of slapstick short subjects, essentially becoming the comedic dumb blonde we all know and love. She's surprisingly quite credible in Unholy Love, making one wonder what could have been had she stuck with more dramatic parts.

Unholy Love got a no frills DVD release in 2008 from budget retailer Alpha Home Video; it is currently available via and

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