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When a producer has a few extra millions that are feeling lonely, he concocts something like "The Crystal Ball." Not unlike the many thousand Melvyn Douglas-Norma Shearer-Joan Crawford-Robert Taylor et al gay sophisticated comedies that Hollywood has created under the categorical title of Ars Gratia Artis, "The Crystal Ball," with the Paulette Goddard-Ray Milland combo, makes a more distinctive showing at the box office than on the screen. Definitely an argument for the $25,000 a year income ceiling.
The picture ends with Ray Milland marrying Paulette Goddard, or at least, that would be the right thing for them to do. How they get together in the first place is the picture. She (Goddard) is pinch-hitting for a fortune-teller who is taking the day off. He (Milland) happens to run into her, and the pseudo-psychic predicts they will come together. Milland doesn't know Paulette is the fortune-teller, however, and she plays a double role: as the fortune-teller and as a gay young immigrant from Texas. Naturally, there's a third woman, a client of Mr. Milland (a counsellor whose clients are all beautiful women without trouble) and she tries to botch up matters between the two stars. This little vixen is disposed of in the usual manner and Miss Goddard and Mr. Milland live together happily ever after. What happens to Milland's business, where he gets all his gasoline, how his draft board feels about him are all disregarded. Handsome men don't have no troubles.
The film is formula fodder, to be treated with casual comment. If you're only eight minutes from Park Street, and there's nothing else to do, "The Crystal Ball" may prove to be somewhat of a mild sedative. And speaking of sedatives, the associate feature is one of the "let's play doctor" series, concerning Dr. Gillespie's search for a new assistant to succeed Dr. Kildare, who isn't mentioned for obvious reasons. Oddly enough, it's called "Dr. Gillespie's New--Assistant." Barry-more playing around with chemicals again.
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