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Young Jane Benson just about manages to make ends meet running the large family house in Yorkshire. In love with local doctor Freddie Jarvis, she suggests they marry, but almost at once finds she has inherited eighteen million pounds. He makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the money and what it can buy, and Jane sets off alone on a spree pursued by two ardent suitors. Jarvis finds he has gained notoriety for turning down such a catch and his plans for ernest research are soon compromised. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Beautiful major release in its day remains handsome curio
The exotic beauty Merle Oberon was primed by her producer husband Alexander Korda for great things (it was at his behest she changed her name from Estelle Merle Thompson to Oberon and they were married the year OVER THE MOON was released) but is today probably remembered for only a few of the more than two dozen films she made before World War II and the relative handful she made after it - none more than the first American film she made immediately after this release, WUTHERING HEIGHTS.
OVER THE MOON was a top drawer release in 1939 just as World War II was breaking out - it opened in London barely a month after Hitler invaded Poland - and well received. The story of a young doctor who rejects the image of marrying for money and the woman on the rebound having to cope with that money and all the advice, good and bad, that comes with it, allowed for ravishingly beautiful Technicolor vistas of European sights from Paris to the Riviera, Venice and beyond in a world still at peace.
If the film itself hasn't aged as well as, say, Bernard Shaw's THE MILLIONAIRESS, it is more because the writers were not in Shaw's league than any of the other elements. Truth be told, it may come across as a little dull for those not willing to go with the quiet pace of the screenwriters' telling of the Robert Anderson/Lajos Biro story. It would be interesting to know why such an apparently important film was released in Lisbon a full eight months before its London premiere - was there re-editing involved, or did the film when initially released cause reservations in the distributors and the London premiere only get pushed because of the War? Whichever, the result was successful at the time.
Nevertheless, OVER THE MOON (as of this date unreleased on video in the US - but available in a Greek PAL DVD release) is worth seeking out for the relatively early performance by Rex Harrison as the naive doctor (still two and six years before his career defining Shaw and Coward films, MAJOR BARBARA and BLYTHE SPIRIT) and an all too-rare performance by the great Elisabeth Welch (an expatriate American singer/actress renowned for creating "Solomon" in Cole Porter's NYMPH ERRANT in the original 1933 London production of that show) as a cabaret singer.
Minor OVER THE MOON may be today, but like its star, Ms. Oberon, it remains lovely to look at and a worthy diversion for a rainy afternoon.
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