Saturday, March 14, 2015

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Year 7, Day 73 - 3/14/15 - Movie #1,973

BEFORE: I know I said I'd wait until April 15 to re-order my watchlist (now down to 177 films), but I couldn't help myself last night, I took a stab at it, unfortunately with mixed results.  Oh, sure there are these little building blocks of 6 Matthew McConnaughey films or 3 Nicole Kidman films, but I haven't found a coherent chain that runs through all of them.  Plus, I haven't decided if the chain should be partially thematic, or entirely actor link-based - and what's worse, new linking possibilities open up nearly every time I add a film.  So I've decided to table the discussion for now, and I'll just have to review a bunch of cast lists and re-visit the situation next month.  

For now (M)Archie Madness continues, as I watch a film that SHOULD have been programmed for Friday the 13th, I only realized too late how it represents a situation where everything that could go wrong does, which is the technical definition of bad luck, right?  I wish I'd thought of that a few days ago, I could have moved "Father Goose" to the war chain and pushed all the Cary Grant films up another day, and this would have landed perfectly on 3/13.  Damn it all.

THE PLOT:  A man and his wife decide they can afford to have a house in the country built to their specifications. It's a lot more trouble than they think.

AFTER: Of course, I've seen "The Money Pit", the 1980's not-a-remake-but-essentially-it-is version of this story, with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.  But to date I'd never seen the original, which should be required viewing for anyone thinking of remodeling a house.  As expected (by everyone except the lead couple), everything goes kablooey, leading to cost overruns and eventually even marital troubles.  Yes, they found a way to cram a love triangle storyline in here, like an unwanted addition to a construction project.  

Through a contrivance, the couple's daughters discover their mother's old diary while moving, and also (gasp) not one but TWO fraternity pins, which could mean that she's still holding a candle for her old boyfriend, who happens to be the couple's best friend, lawyer and surrogate uncle to their kids.  I don't know if college kids today still get "pinned", or if that's now some code word for some sex thing, but in the old days if you were going steady in college the girls wore a pin with their boyfriend's initials or something.  This now seems like a neanderthal method of a male marking his territory, but whatever.  

This happens in the midst of the couple's attempt to leave the cramped apartments of New York City for rural Connecticut, which is telegraphed by a daughter's school essay, based on a classified ad (another contrivance, this doesn't sound like any school project ever assigned by any teacher).  It's funny, the lead character is an advertising man, notably stuck on writing copy for a Spam-like product called "Wham", and you'd think that someone working in advertising would be more savvy, but he falls for the promises of Connecticut realtors like a total noob.  

He also makes snap decisions about his family's future, manages to buy the land without a proper appraisal, and signs contracts without having his lawyer friend check them first.  So my sympathy for him waned a bit with every bad move he made.  I may not be a real estate mogul myself, but I've been through the process of buying both a condo and a house, and if I didn't understand the process, I asked someone.  A lot of it is just common sense, like having the property inspected before you buy it, not after.  Or searching the public records on a property, to find out if there are any liens against it.  

That's probably the most glaring NITPICK POINT here - Blandings has a number of inspectors view his property (notably AFTER he buys the place), and their advice is consistent: instead of fixing, he should tear down the house and start from scratch.  So he does, then finds out there's an outstanding mortgage on the house, which he must now pay.  Huh?  Did he buy the house or not?  Any outstanding mortgage would be the responsibility of the previous owner, and should have been covered by the money paid when the house changed owners.  This would have been addressed by both lawyers at the closing, unless I'm mistaken.  Perhaps Blandings didn't have his lawyer present at the closing, or didn't do a title search and paid the price for his folly, but a proper closing would have addressed any outstanding liens.  

I'm surprised that he didn't get in trouble with the city for tearing down a historic property - it seems like they were setting this up by pointing out that a Revolutionary War general once stopped at the house to water his horses, and then this little point was never brought up again.  Instead of some weird non-paid old mortgage, it would have made more sense for Blandings to have to pay a fine for destroying a landmark.  How did the screenwriter miss this opportunity?  

I'll allow that the children here were better actors than most, they were believably precocious, unlike the kids seen recently in "Father Goose" or "Houseboat", and all of their neuroses.  And the slapstick could have been worse, they at least tried to keep a lid on it, where the 80's version "The Money Pit" just went totally Laurel & Hardy - I remember people covered in plaster and falling through holes in the floor, where here there's just a few falling lintels or footprints in the varnish.  I appreciate that, but on the other hand, it really should be "show, don't tell", and physical comedy works better than people talking about cost overruns.  Believe it or not, this film was so popular that it was adapted for a radio show, and I just don't know how they pulled that off without visuals. 

As you might imagine, everything eventually works out, but the wrap-up of the advertising slogan plot-line felt particularly tacked-on, and it wasn't even really that good of a tagline.  I've seen better ad campaigns for products that were much worse. 

Also starring Myrna Loy (last seen in "Airport '75"), Melvyn Douglas (last seen in "The Candidate"), Reginald Denny (last seen in "Rebecca"), Louise Beavers, Ian Wolfe (last seen in "Now, Voyager"), and Jason Robards Sr.

RATING: 5 out of 10 paint samples

Friday, March 13, 2015

Every Girl Should Be Married

Year 7, Day 72 - 3/13/15 - Movie #1,972

BEFORE: Day 7 of the (M)Archie Madness tournament, and as I go further back into the past, I encounter different rules of engagement in the battle between the sexes.  Nothing really sums up the attitude toward women in the late 1940's better than the title of this one.  OK, but if every girl should be married, what about the boys?  Doesn't it logically follow that they should be married, too, or will they still be allowed to play around?  

THE PLOT: Anabel Sims is determined to find the perfect husband. She thinks she's found her man in Madison Brown, a handsome pediatrician. She then prepares an elaborate scheme to trap him into marriage.

AFTER: Poor Cary Grant - this is the kind of film he had to endure starring in, just to get to better films later on, like "An Affair to Remember" and "Charade", which is leading the tournament right now by a country mile.  And this is the type of actress he had to co-star with - no doubt he dreamed of the day when he could re-team with Ingrid Bergman or make a film with Deborah Kerr, or some voluptuous as-yet-undiscovered Italian or French beauty.  

The lead female character here is one of the most annoying I've ever seen - it's not totally her fault, she's  a product of her times, and society has told her that she simply must be married by a certain age, even if she has to trick a man into marrying her.  Because if women don't get married and have kids, something bad will happen - maybe human society won't be able to carry on, even though there are several billion other people on the planet.  What people (or their parents) are usually more worried about is that if they don't have kids, society WILL carry on, but their genes won't be a part of it - God forbid! 

What I take away from this is that women in 1948 were generally boring, or had low self-esteem - why else would they feel the need to trick men into marrying them?  Why couldn't they just get some hobbies, make themselves more interesting, meet a man with similar interests and just let things develop slowly and naturally?  That's the best recipe for a lasting relationship anyway, right?  But if you force two people together without common interests, they're not likely to stay together as long.  

So I trace the love triangle plotline back to this one - I'll get to the bottom of this repeated storyline yet.  Here the salesgirl sets her sight on a doctor, and to make him jealous, she fabricates a relationship with her boss, the millionaire owner of the department store.  The only problem is, the store-owner assumes that she's fabricated the relationship with the doctor to make HIM jealous, so the lie threatens to become real.  Eventually she's got both men interested in her - she's managed to make them both jealous of each other - and she has to tell even bigger lies to resolve the situation, which is not a great message to send out to the kids.  

Yes, it's great that women came into their own in the mid 20th century, and I support equal rights (which is still apparently a work in progress) but this swings the pendulum too far - women in this film want the right to ask men out on dates, which is fine.  But Anabel here wants the right to marry the man she chooses, thus removing all of HIS personal choice.  Doesn't he even get a say in the matter?

Also, as I said, she's very annoying.  Even if you overlook the stalking behavior, which is creepy and quite unacceptable, she flies off the handle and jumps to conclusions - you know the kind of girl that starts picking out baby names after one date with a man?  Yeah, that's her - maybe that was more acceptable in 1948, but not any more.  As soon as she finds out the man she's bumped into is a doctor, she's found her target - this selfish, gold-digger attitude is quite unacceptable also.  Plus, she's very rude - conversationally she keeps interrupting people AND she's very forceful in her manner, determined that the whole world should change to suit her desires and needs.  You can't make someone love you, honey, that's not the way it's supposed to work.  

My wife and I have a little saying when we see or hear someone in public who's very annoying or out of control in their manner, which is, "I'd set the house on fire."  Meaning that if we found ourself in a relationship with THAT person, and had to endure that voice or those manners or whatever, we'd take unreasonable actions, including arson, to get out of that situation.  I maintain that Cary Grant's character here should have set the house on fire. 

NITPICK POINT: Last night it was "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean", and tonight it was "La Mer", a melody you may recognize since it was later turned into the song "Beyond the Sea".  It's simply everywhere in this film, to the exclusion of any other piece of music.  It's literally the only song in the film, and you'll be sick of hearing it by the end of the picture.  How about spending a few extra bucks and maybe featuring two pieces of music in a film?  

EDIT: It turns out that the lead actress here was Cary Grant's third wife.  That actually explains a lot - namely how she got the role in this film, and also I can see why he moved on to wife #4.  

Also starring Betsy Drake, Franchot Tone, Diana Lynn, Eddie Albert (last seen in "Roman Holiday").

RATING: 3 out of 10 pairs of baby booties

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dream Wife

Year 7, Day 71 - 3/12/15 - Movie #1,971

BEFORE: OK, a last-minute change of plans to announce - the fourth film directed by Stanley Donen had been scheduled for tonight, but I determined that it was in the wrong bracket, so to speak.  I've moved it to a spot later in the month, to be next to other films where Cary Grant plays someone in the military.  ("Father Goose" didn't really count as one of those, because he played a civilian conscripted into reconnaisance work for the Australian navy.)  Now the (M)Archie Madness chain can continue with the straight romantic non-military comedies. 

THE PLOT: Clemson Reade, a business tycoon with marriage on his mind, and Effie, a U.S. diplomat, are a modern couple.  But when Clemson meets Tarji, a princess trained in all the arts of pleasing men, he decides he wants an old-fashioned girl.

AFTER: As always, I have to take the year a film was made into account when judging it - every film is a product of its time, after all.  So I have to take this film as a commentary on the sexual politics of 1953, something akin to "Desk Set", perhaps.  Perhaps this represents some kind of turning point in the war between the sexes, because women are depicted in two contrary roles - the American woman is an accomplished diplomat in the U.S. Dept. of State, and the other is a princess from Bukistan (not a real country, I checked) who has been raised to be subservient to men.  

It's a huge coincidence that a businessman travels to this fictional country, where he happens to meet a princess and learn about her upbringing, while at the same time his fiancée is working on a deal for the U.S. to get oil from the same exact country.  What are the odds?  And when he proposes marriage long-distance to the princess, she comes to the U.S. and guess who the State Department assigns to look after her?  Her intended groom's ex-girlfriend!  Another staggering coincidence, but then again, maybe not many people in the U.S. government speak, umm, Bukistani?

This sets up, you guessed it, another love triangle.  Grant's character has to have his old girlfriend translating his messages of love to his new fiancée, plus he has to work with his old girlfriend to keep the princess out of trouble, or else the U.S. might not get all that sweet oil, and gas prices will go up.  (Bad news, it's 1953 and they're bound to go up sooner or later...)  You don't suppose that spending time with his ex will re-ignite those feelings of love, do you?  Or that courting his new fiancée without being able to even kiss her might change his mind about the process.

In the end, the two women have something of an effect on each other, resulting in the subservient princess learning to assert herself (I think in Bukistan she'll probably be stoned for that, so congrats) and the modern woman learning that she needs to make room in her busy schedule to attend to the needs of her man.  And if you don't like this message, just keep reminding yourself that the film was made in 1953 - at least she got to be career-oriented most of the time.

NITPICK POINT: Filmmakers in 1953 apparently didn't understand the difference between a "Stan" country, which would likely be a Soviet Republic nation, and a Middle Eastern one, which would likely be rich in oil and have a princess.  So this fictional country seems like a strange hybrid of the two.
The native dress and furniture seem to suggest a nation such as Morocco or Libya, perhaps, but if that's the case, they should have chosen another fake name.  Ah, but perhaps they were referencing Pakistan, which sort of fits the bill, except it doesn't have a royal family.  Either way, this showcases how little American screenwriters knew about Islamic countries at the time.  

NITPICK POINT #2: Why did the film's scorer, or music department, play an instrumental sting of "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" whenever something (allegedly) funny happened?  I could see that in a maritime picture, like "Ensign Pulver" or something, but here it was completely out of place, disconnected from the storyline entirely.  

Also starring Deborah Kerr (last seen in "The Grass Is Greener"), Walter Pidgeon (last seen in "Funny Girl"), Betta St. John, Eduard Franz, Richard Anderson, Les Tremayne.

RATING: 3 out of 10 sweetmeats

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Year 7, Day 70 - 3/11/15 - Movie #1,970

BEFORE: I've been on the lower cholesterol diet for two weeks now, and I don't know if it's had any effect, but I feel lighter.  Could just be my own perception, after avoiding red meats, eggs, butter and avocados for a while.  I think my jeans are a little looser, but I can't be sure because my bathroom scale still just reads "E" when I step on it - I'm not sure if this stands for "error" or "extra heavy", but I'm hoping that some time soon I can get back to a weight that will register on the scale.  That probably should have been a warning sign months ago, that I'd become too heavy for a home scale. 

Cary Grant carries over for Day 5 of Marchie Madness, and it's another film released in 1958, the same year as "Houseboat". 

THE PLOT: A London-based actress, who has been unable to find love in her life, comes home early from a vacation and meets a suave financier who is a work acquaintance of her brother-in-law.

AFTER:  This is sort of a twist on the usual romance-with-deception storyline.  You've seen over and over plots where two people fall in love, and one turns out to be secretly married.  In this case, Cary Grant's character is quite upfront about being married, but is he?  Near the start of the film, his new love points out that the current "excuse" on the dating scene that year is "Sorry, I'm married, but I'm separated and can't get a divorce."  Presumably this is the easiest way for single men to cheat on their wives and not get too involved with potential girlfriends, and they use this to succeed on the London dating scene with older women who don't want to be tied down either.

But is that really Philip Adams' situation, or is there more to his story? 

It's only recently that I learned the homophone for "discreet", which is "discrete".  Up until then, when I saw the word "discrete", I thought that someone had misspelled it, or was maybe using the British spelling.  But no, "discreet" means being careful to not be noticed or to cause offense, and "discrete" means individually separate or distinct.  What a dumb language we have, the human mouth can make thousands of sounds that are not being used for words, and we have to have two words that sound exactly alike but mean different things?  If I were in charge, I'd get rid of one of them, most likely "discrete", because people could just use "distinct" in its place - we don't need it.  

Anyway, our lovers tonight are definitely indiscreet, meaning that they don't care who knows that they're sleeping together - and this very public romance doesn't seem to matter at all to the higher-ups at NATO, because they check Mr. Adams out and they hire him anyway.  In 1957 if you were a public figure I assume you couldn't live with someone without being married, but I guess you could get two apartments on different floors of the same building and nobody's going to be the wiser. 

And I've found my answer to my question from the other night - why do screenwriters feel the need to introduce so much deception into romance stories, or are constantly writing about love triangles?  Because a film about two lovers who meet cute, get to know each other, date exclusively, are very happy together, then eventually get married turns out to be a very boring movie.  Somehow it seems like the relationships we aspire to in the real world just aren't dramatic enough for a film, which needs to have tension, doubt, and one of those "it's always darkest before the dawn" turnarounds in the final act. 

"Indiscreet" is an extreme example of this, because it's mostly just about two people getting together, with little or no conflict, and they keep it casual because he's married but separated.  Since there's little chance of this relationship turning into marriage, that keeps the pressure off, so it's a comfortable arrangement.  But then they HAVE to introduce doubt and tension at the end, there's a short-lived theoretical love triangle, and an argument for good measure, which makes you wonder if these two people are meant for each other after all.  I understand why they have to do this, but it still feels incredibly forced.

This is the third of four films this week directed by Stanley Donen - he also directed "Charade", "The Grass Is Greener", and tomorrow's movie.  And like last night's film, the lead actress was involved in a real-life love triangle - she was married to one man, Dr. Peter Lindstrom, and fell in love with Roberto Rossellini.  When she became pregnant with Rossellini's child while married to Lindstrom, she became something of a social outcast in Hollywood, and didn't make a Hollywood film for six years, returning with "Anastasia", for which she won Best Actress, and then made "Indiscreet" two years after that.

Also starring Ingrid Bergman (last seen in "Gaslight"), Megs Jenkins, David Kossoff, Cecil Parker.

RATING: 4 out of 10 scotch and sodas

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Year 7, Day 69 - 3/10/15 - Movie #1,969

BEFORE: It's (M)Archie Madness, Day 4, and I think already I've determined that you could put Cary Grant in a movie opposite just about any woman, and he'll do quite well.  Tonight it's Italian bombshell Sophia Loren, and tomorrow it will be Swedish Ingrid Bergman.

THE PLOT:  A widower is trying to understand and raise three precocious children alone. He gets a little unexpected help from Cinzia, when the children decide she is be the new maid. She is actually an Italian socialite who is trying to get away from her overprotective father.

AFTER:  There was a wave in 1950's and 60's television of parents with deceased spouses, in shows like "My Three Sons" and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father", and this presented writers with the best of all possible writing scenarios.  They could show a family and still explore the mysteries of dating, leading to more well-rounded characters who weren't stuck in the monotony of monogamy.  In this film, a man who works for the state department returns home some time after his wife's death, to look after his children.  Guess he didn't rush home for the funeral, so it seems that marriage was already on the rocks.  

As he takes control of his family, he learns that the children are acting up (gee, I wonder why - they haven't seen their father since when, exactly?) and one's even a budding kleptomanic.  The other son chooses to run away after an orchestra concert - which I understand, because my mother used to take me to see the Boston Symphony, and honestly I would have preferred to be anywhere else.  But this leads to the boy following a beautiful Italian woman around for the night - can you blame him? 

It's sort of another case of mistaken identity, similar to that seen in "Roman Holiday", as Loren pretends to be a commoner, but is really the daughter of a famous conductor.  OK, so that's not the same as royalty, but apparently she's upper-class and travels around the world to various concert halls.  Yet the only song she likes to sing is an annoying nonsense song that goes, "Bing Bang Bong", or something like that.  Go figure. 

Grant's situation, on the other hand, sort of reminds me of Audrey Hepburn's love triangle seen in "Love in the Afternoon", where she's got a steady boyfriend at music school, and has a lot in common with him, but she prefers the company of the American playboy who's way above her on the social scale.  Here Cary Grant is seeing his wife's sister socially, and everyone (including them) just assumes that they'll get together, but then he realizes he'd rather be with the maid, who isn't really a maid and may actually be higher in society than himself.  

I wish that a romance could somehow get into the nuts and bolts of it all, explain WHY someone in a love triangle prefers this person over that person - besides, of course, because one actress has top billing over another.  Maybe it's something that can't always be quantified, but does that mean we should ignore the reasons entirely?  Does it just come down to the fact that he's spent more time with Cinzia, so he's more familiar with her?  

Life sort of imitated art here, as Grant and Loren were dating when they signed on to make this picture together, then she turned around and married Carlo Ponti during production.  I bet that wasn't awkward at all. 

NITPICK POINT: The kid playing harmonica appears to be some kind of virtuoso.  When he plays along with the symphony orchestra, his music matches the orchestra's performance (Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4, aka "Italian Symphony"), though how would a small kid know that piece?  And even if he knew it, which is doubtful, how would he know the orchestra would be playing that, and how would he be able to replicate it on the harmonica?  

A while back, I figured out the secret of the harmonica when I saw John Popper of Blues Traveler wearing a vest with a bandolier's worth of harmonica - this meant that there were different harmonicas for each key, and therefore as long as you played the correctly tuned harmonica and everyone agreed on the song's key, it would be impossible to play an incorrect note on that harmonica.  But how would the kid tonight know that the orchestra would be playing a piece in the key of A Major?  Extremely doubtful. 

Sometimes I just know too much about certain things, I think, and it prevents me from suspending my disbelief.  

Speaking of which, there's an awful lot of rear projection in this film (or a lot of awful rear projection, whichever) and that doesn't help it seem believable, either.  At one point they cut from a long shot of Grant's characters with his kids in front of a lake, and then when they cut to the close-up, it's clearly a rear projection of the lake scene.  Why didn't they just film the close-up at the same lake right after the long shot?  Maybe the close-up was a pick-up shot, made months later and they couldn't duplicate the original scene, but still - why not just re-shoot the whole scene if you've got everyone there?

Also starring Sophia Loren (last seen in "Nine"), Martha Hyer, Harry Guardino, Murray Hamilton, Eduardo Ciannelli, Werner Klemperer.

RATING: 4 out of 10 fishing poles

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Grass Is Greener

Year 7, Day 68 - 3/9/15 - Movie #1,968

BEFORE: Yeah, so a lot of these Cary Grant films seem to be about love and relationships, which makes me wonder if I should have saved them for next February.  However, I still have hope that I can finish this project in 2015, so with some effort maybe I won't be doing this next February.  Too late now, I've committed to (M)Archie Madness, today is day 3 of Archie Leach/Cary Grant's chain.  

Grant plays a British Earl tonight, which made me wonder - he's an American actor, star of so many Hollywood films, why did he have something akin to a British accent?  Ah, but his bio says he was born in Bristol, England, and did his first acting as part of a troupe that traveled around the U.K. and then performed in the music halls in London, and moved to perform on Broadway in 1920.  That explains a lot. 

THE PLOT:  Victor and Hillary are down on their luck to the point that they allow tourists to take guided tours of their castle. But Charles Delacro, a millionaire oil tycoon, visits, and takes a liking to more than the house.

AFTER: This seems like a traditional love triangle, that threatens to blossom into a love rectangle, so there's definitely a connection to more modern romances, like "Something's Gotta Give", to name one.  But that in itself is quite shocking for a film made in 1960 - as I saw in "Love in the Afternoon", movies in the late 1950's and early 1960's still had a problem with showing two unmarried people in bed together - that film with Audrey Hepburn would only show her dancing with Gary Cooper in a hotel room, then occasionally there was a shot of clothes on the floor, and we had to fill in the blanks.  

Tonight it's an even more uncomfortable situation - a man's wife "falls in love" with another man.  Sure, she speeds off to London, they spend every minute together, she's never at her friend's guest room where she's supposedly staying so she simply MUST be sleeping in the other man's hotel room, but the movie falls short of making this clear.  Sure, she's fallen in love, let's go with that, because infidelity is just so icky, right?  

However, what's depicted here is a married couple who has been together for so long (and the husband has apparently had several flings over the years, but we're given the excuse that it's "different for men"...) that when he walks into the room, after his wife has kissed another man, we're later told that he just KNEW what had gone on.  Picked it up from her demeanor, body language, whatever.  He knew, and he let her go to London anyway.  

Then, when the situation is engineered so her American boyfriend is invited to their estate, once again it's a game where everyone knows what's going on, but no one is willing to talk about it.  Silly British people, you've just got to get this stuff out in the open and talk about it!  Instead, we know that he knows his wife has been unfaithful.  And we know that the boyfriend knows that the husband knows that the wife has been unfaithful.  And I bet that the husband knows that the boyfriend knows that the husband knows... and so on.  

(Similarly, the wife knows that the husband knows, then the husband knows that the wife knows that the husband knows...)

Here's what's interesting (to me, anyway):  when you know your spouse is interested in someone else, the first impulse is to circle the wagons, scream, cause a fuss, and protect your territory.  One could say that this is entirely the wrong approach, that the more of a scene you cause, the more you will push your spouse into the arms of the other lover.  Instead, Cary Grant's character takes another path, where he plays along, pretends he doesn't know (even though we know he knows), and acts quite civilly.  He figures that either his wife will have her fun and come back to him, or she won't - and either way, it's not worth causing a ruckus.  That's one cool customer - either that, or he's just quite sophisticated, or perhaps too world-weary to fight for her.  

Or perhaps he's craftier than anyone gives him credit for being - perhaps he's got a trick or three up his sleeve, and instead of openly fighting to get his wife back, he's clever enough to make her realize what she'd be giving up if she goes of with the other man.

NITPICK POINT: The opening titles show babies on a large lawn, with names underneath, so the babies are meant to represent the various members of the cast and crew.  But why?  I can't see any connection between babies and the plot, or any specific reason that the cast should have been represented as babies.  OK, it's a little cute to see a baby holding loose pieces of film to represent the editor, or a baby with a sour face to represent director Stanley Donen, but I feel it served no practical purpose, and seemed disconnected from the rest of the film.  Why not just combine the credits with the following sequence, showing stately British manors? 

Also starring Deborah Kerr (last seen in "An Affair to Remember"), Robert Mitchum (last seen in "Midway"), Jean Simmons (last seen in "Elmer Gantry").

RATING: 5 out of 10 Dundee cakes

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Father Goose

Year 7, Day 67 - 3/8/15 - Movie #1,967

BEFORE: (M)Archie Madness, Day 2 - This was Cary Grant's next-to-last film, from 1964, so I'm not going strictly chronologically backwards, this was released a year after "Charade".  It makes more sense to break down Grant's films based on leading lady, like I have three coming up where he's paired with Irene Dunne and a couple with Myrna Loy, so I'll group those together.  "Charade" seems to be the top-seeded film for now, it could go all the way in this tournament, but there's always the chance of an upset.

According to the IMDB, Cary Grant wanted Audrey Hepburn to star in this one with him, but she had committed to making "My Fair Lady", and he had been offered the role of Henry Higgins in that film, and had turned it down.

THE PLOT:  During WW2, a man persuaded to live on an isolated island and spot aircraft finds himself responsible for a teacher and several students, all female.

AFTER: Apparently this is how we won World War II, by conscripting civilians into doing military duties, threatening to commandeer their private vessels unless they agree to live on a Pacific island and do plane-spotting for the Allies, while living on rations.  OK, so the Australian navy doesn't seem to play fair, but it's all for a good cause, right?  

Besides, what could be a better place for a man who's dropped out of society to spend some time alone, have some quiet reflection, and then when he's ready, to rescue a lovely but entitled French woman to spend time with?  Oh, and there's a gaggle of pre-teen girls too, who start out being more trouble than they're worth, but may eventually find a way to melt the heart of this grumpy, drunken fellow. 

When you think of Cary Grant, you think of someone suave and debonair, but in later interviews he claimed that this role was most like his real-life personality.  The rest of the time, well, it's called acting for a reason, I guess. 

The relationship here is somewhat inevitable, I suppose, but it does sort of seem to come from nowhere quite quickly - one minute the two leads are arguing and slapping each other, the next they're making long-term plans together.  I might have liked to see sort of an interim stage, because they do seem to spin on a dime. 

Also starring Leslie Caron (last seen in "An American In Paris"), Trevor Howard (last seen in "Gandhi"), Jack Good.

RATING: 5 out of 10 hidden bottles