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GLORIA SWANSON DECOMPRESSES SUNSET IN '3 FOR BEDROOM C'

James Warren and Gloria Swanson in 3 FOR BEDROOM C Year: 1952 Rating: ***1/2

One of the most bizarre career choices perhaps in the history of cinema was when the once has-been silent film star Gloria Swanson, after playing has-been silent film star Norma Desmond in the beloved smash hit SUNSET BOULEVARD, turned down script after script attempting to turn her into what she easily could have become... 

Something like, say, a female Vincent Price since, while deemed a Film Noir/Drama, SUNSET is nothing short of a terrifying claustrophobic Horror that inspired the likes of PLAY MISTY FOR ME that inspired FATAL ATTRACTION, both involving obsessive women desperately clinging to a man by slitting their wrists, and even MISERY... 

Fred Clark in 3 FOR BEDROOM C

But BOULEVARD was obviously too dark and serious for Swanson, proven by her next role in THREE FOR BEDROOM C that, while the lightest of lightweight romantic comedies, does have similarities to the ominous Billy Wilder classic... 

As Ann Haven, she's again a movie star, but this time not a has-been, sustaining fame despite really wanting to quit... And along for the ongoing train ride is another SUNSET actor, Fred Clark, as her nervous manager backed by an even more neurotic publicity agent Hans Conried...

Fred Clark in THREE FOR BEDROOM C

Both turn in their usual capable performances for an entertaining curio that, when not taking place in the dialogue-driven dinner car, settles into that titular "bedroom" (technically a roomette)... 

This where Swanson had stowed way, leaving New York for California, igniting a romance with an equally famous professor/scientist played by tall spectacle-wearing James Warren, ticket in hand and instantly attracted to the screen star... without even knowing who she is... and despite the baggage...

Janine Perreau in THREE FOR BEDROOM C

Providing child starlet Janine Perreau most of the screen-time, a talkative go-between between celebrity mom bickering with Clark while befriending the subtle anti-leading man Warren, so mellow he often seems invisible...

Yet there's genuine chemistry, despite the age difference... she's once again the older woman... while the plot's mostly carried by those two character-actors like character-actors are supposed to: But the third banana's horribly miscast in portraying a Broadway star ready to become a movie star...

Steve Brodie in THREE FOR BEDROOM C

Overweight everyman Steve Brodie not only doesn't fit the part, but his part of the film... when the central romance is inevitably threatened by peripheral jealousy... is the only downside to an otherwise neat little time-filler... 

And the last picture Swanson would attempt for years, resting on her SUNSET laurels and yet, with such a grounded performance here, it's as if she never played so overboard a psychotic... obviously her intention all along. 

Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM C with James Warren
Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM C with James Warren
Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM c
Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM C
Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM C with James Warren
Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM C with Hans Conried
Gloria Swanson in THREE FOR BEDROOM C with James Warren

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