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"Rings on Her Fingers" is a thoroughly charming picture that takes a
kaleidoscope of elements from films of the era -- the shop-girl
Cinderella, bathing suit poses on the beach, the rich man's yacht, the
poolside party, mistaken identity, love on the breadline, evasion in a
crowded terminus, the casino, the gangster -- and mixes them all up in
a hectic, hilarious, but instinctively good-natured plot. As a romance,
it's very funny without ever needing to resort to the anarchic
destruction of many 'screwball' affairs; as a comedy, it laughs at its
characters with loving affection rather than glee and discomfiture.
In the best of farces, absurd events unfold with a seemingly inevitable logic. It must be admitted that in this picture, the plot occasionally skates past short-term expedients that just have to be taken for granted -- but the ensuing situations are milked to such good effect that it's easy to turn a blind eye. The film is rich in set-pieces both verbal and visual, with a host of lively minor characters to accompany the note-perfect performances of the principals.
Laird Cregar excels as usual in the role of the resonant, urbane Warren (performing with impressive agility in his swimming-pool scene), while Spring Byington is here the best I have seen her, the actress submerging her trademark mannerisms in an actual character. Gene Tierney is sweet, smart, funny and distinctly shapely as the girl who pulls off the perfect con and then learns what she has really done. Henry Fonda -- for my money, both more credible and more sympathetic here than in "The Lady Eve" -- plays a mathematical dreamer with a passion for sailing and the sea, while some eye-catching yachts of the era star in the background, apparently shot on location!
The film starts off light and gradually gains in intensity and emotional weight as it goes along, with frequent upwellings of laughter to season some very genuine feeling. The two lovers are charming together, from a very Freudian first scene (in which the camera settles on Linda's trim contours as a somewhat dislocated John tries to describe the lines of his yacht) to the final escape, Perhaps the highlight is the taxicab sequence in which our hero, intoxicated with excitement, is convinced he has devised a 'system' to beat the roulette wheel, while Linda and the audience, in on the secret, find him both hilarious and adorable at the same time.
Like all good comedies, "Rings on Her Fingers" laughs at our human frailties, but it does so with a gentle touch. It shares with "Some Like It Hot" an essential innocence and sweetness at the root of its effervescent humour, and scarcely sets a foot wrong in the process. I enjoyed this little-known, little-rated picture very much indeed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This little film, with a great cast of Spring Byington, Henry Fonda, and Gene Tierny, is about a bunch of con artists and an honest man. It's full of surprises and neat little touches and bits of dialog. Everyone is at their best, even the normally somewhat annoying Gene Tierney, who plays a shop girl posing as an heiress. The plot's twists and turns extend to the very last scene. And Spring Byington is quite good. Henry Fonda plays the hero as an honest accountant who scrimps and saves to buy a boat, but is conned out of the money by Byington and Tierney posing as mother and daughter. By the end he is also seduced by dreams of great wealth, ill gotten, and becomes a gambler with a system. Creiger, who died tragically while in his twenties, gives a great performance as a member of the gang. The film reminds me a bit of Preston Sturgis, particularly the Lady Eve. Worth a watch!
Having seen Henry Fonda in many of his serious films like 12 Angry Men and Grapes of Wrath, it was quite surprising to see how funny he can in Rings on Her Fingers. He has a nice chemistry with his co-star Gene Tierney as the girl that falls for him. She's involved with a gang of con-artists but can't resist accountant Fonda's sweet natured charm. The plot gets out of hand when Tierney wants to return the stolen money to Fonda. Spring Byington, as Tierney's "mother" is always a pleasant addition to any movie. Playing one of the con-artists, her acting is a little tougher than the usual flighty dowager we've seen her portray before. There are some good laughs along the way especially the chase scene at the airport terminal.It you want to see Henry Fonda in one of his rare comedies this movie is hard to beat.
Gene Tierney wants "Rings on Her Fingers" in this 1942 comedy starring
Henry Fonda, Laird Cregar and Spring Byington. Tierney is a shopgirl
drafted by Byington and Warren to help them con rich men out of their
money. One of their marks is Fonda, with whom Tierney falls in love.
Problems arise, and that's putting it mildly.
Mamoulian loved scripts that contained characters with dual identities such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Mark of Zorro, so "Rings on Her Fingers" must have appealed to him. It has Tierney, a New York salesgirl posing as an heiress, Fonda, an accountant who at first gives the impression he's a rich man, Cregar, posing as a yacht owner, and Byington, posing as Tierney's wealthy mother.
I liked this charming comedy, but I have to take issue with calling it screwball. It's played too straight. Fonda creates a wonderful character - a sincere, caring person who wants to live life in the present and not live as others - lock up their money and, in so doing, lock up their lives. His internalized approach to acting did not lend itself to comedy. Tierney is gorgeous, and a good actress, but comedy wasn't her thing. Picture the airport scenes with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, and you get the point.
Laird Cregar is wonderfully bombastic and funny as the conniver Warren - what a loss to filmdom that he died so young; and Spring Byington does a great job as his partner.
Henry Fonda never forgave Darryl F. Zanuck for forcing him into a seven-year contract in order to do The Grapes of Wrath; though Mamoulian was a great director, I think Fonda probably felt misused here. Opposite a pro like Stanwyck, he fared in comedy much better. Tierney is lovely, though.
In 1941, a year after Fonda made "Grapes of Wrath" for Twentieth Century Fox', the studio loaned him out to Paramount Pictures for Preston Sturges' hugely successful "Lady Eve." That film gave Fonda a rare chance to play comedy, and he is particularly believable and appealing as the naive millionaire. Fox's head of production, Daryl Zanuck, saw the tremendous box-office potential in casting his dramatic star in similar roles, and a year later produced this pleasant ripoff of Sturges' premise: what would happen if a con-artist (in "Eve" Stanwyck, in this film Gene Tierney) fell for the man she'd conned. Tierney is as always very lovely and considerably less wooden than normal in the part of the reformed crook, but it is Fonda with his All-American Boy good looks who steals the show. Rouben Mamoulian, usually not associated with this sort of fluff, does an excellent job of directing.
Where did this come from? I never heard of it. Gene Tierny with a
Brookly accent? Laird Cregar? Has to be fun! It was but only a little.
Fonda is doing his "B" version of "The Lady Eve". I've seen it too often. No one has any real snappy lines. The movie relies on situation comedy and a chase at the end. Sometimes these are good, but if I wanted chases, the Bowery Boys might have sufficed.
The film seemed to be a bit pasted together. New characters appear out of the blue and things are referenced in the dialogue which were not in the film. These were so obvious that it bothered me.
Was it my imagination or did the background music feature snatches of the theme from "Laura"?
Despite the familiar cast, this fails to be a good film. There is a beach scene where you see Gene Tierney sunbathing and Henry Fonda in the sea. They are look as though they are having fun, and because it's a real beach the scene looks authentic. However, there is no real story here nor are there any characters that we connect with. Laird Cregar looks larger than life in clothes that a few sizes too big for him. The problem is with the writing. It lacks sparkle, and the characters are one-dimensional. It's marketed as a movie but I don't know what it is. I would advise Fonda fans to stay away from this film as it comes nowhere near the quality of 'The Wrong Man'.
According to the Citadel Film series book The Films Of Henry Fonda,
Rings On Her Fingers was the third of a three picture deal that Rouben
Mamoulian had with 20th Century Fox. The other two films done in this
package were the Tyrone Power classics, The Mark Of Zorro and Blood And
Sand. Would that this film were light years as good as those two were.
Not that it's bad, but it's strictly second rate Mamoulian and definitely second rate Fonda. This was the period in Fonda's career where he had signed a studio contract to get the role in The Grapes Of Wrath and Darryl Zanuck would be forcing him into things that were second rate. This part that Fonda has here was a ripoff of what he did on loan to Paramount for The Lady Eve.
Fonda is once again the naive pigeon of some con artists played by Spring Byington and Laird Cregar. They're using Gene Tierney who is lured by the chance of easy money into their nest as the come on in a confidence game. The three rook Fonda out of his life savings, selling him a sailboat they don't own. They think Fonda has millions to spare, but unlike in The Lady Eve, Fonda is a clerk on holiday.
But he doesn't know Tierney was part of the gag and the two fall for each other. That however interferes with Cregar and Byington's plans to marry Tierney off to a real millionaire, Sheppard Strudwick.
Rings On Her Fingers is not a bad film, but Fonda who was doing mostly classic roles in The Male Animal and The Lady Eve on loan, back at his home studio was given parts that Zanuck's favorites Tyrone Power and Don Ameche passed on. Fonda hated those years at Fox, hated them more because he wanted to go in the service and Zanuck pulled all kinds of strings to keep him home.
Fonda played naive characters since his debut in The Farmer Takes A Wife and throughout his career before his war service tried desperately to avoid the typecasting. After Mister Roberts no one thought to cast him that way again, but in his early years it was a struggle to avoid it.
Best scenes in Rings On Her Fingers involve Fonda and Tierney at a gambling casino run by Henry Stephenson where things are fixed for him to win. Of course Fonda thinks he's found a mathematical formula and his recklessness increases.
Laird Cregar is good in a most undefined role as a con man. What a loss he was at such a young age.
Rings On Her Fingers belongs in the lower tier of Henry Fonda films though it does have its moments.
Gene Tierney and Henry Fonda star in this film about a family that tries to scam rich young men out of their money. When sister and brother team, Spring Byington and Laird Cregar, lose their young partner in crime, they meet Gene Tierney, who was working in a department store and get her involved. The next victim - Henry Fonda. To begin with, this film starts out a little too cheery for me. I like upbeat films, but this has a bad case of the cutes. I get the impression they were trying too hard to be funny and only wind up coming across as hapless and without a clue. A good picture doesn't let you question the hows and whys of a movie's unbelievable coincidences and plots. But it feels contrived and is ultimately ineffective, despite the stars trying their best to rise above the formulaic material. Obviously trying to capitalize on the success of The Lady Eve, this film is no comparison and basically is a misfire, despite likable actors.
Unrefined shopgirl is pegged by a confidence couple to use as a lure for bilking wealthy men--she hesitates for a moment, but is soon in cahoots with the wily twosome, that is until she falls for one of their victims: a bumbling (and broke) mathematician. Gene Tierney has some wonderful scenes at the beginning, bored with her job and ready to take an early powder, but there's nothing exciting about the man she loves (he's more an overripe juvenile), and pretty soon the movie is going around in circles. There's a private detective who works for peanuts and yet has more information than the F.B.I., not to mention an upscale gambling casino that becomes rigged at random. Henry Fonda, talking too loudly and over-enunciating, is stuck with the movie-world's most rotten concoction--a penniless kid with principles who is too proud to accept easy money--and he does nothing interesting with it. Might have been a far better picture if the love story were dropped, focusing primarily on salesgirl Tierney and her love-hate relationship with the con-artists. Film is easily summed up by one line of dialogue: "Eegads! Did you ever see anything so corny?" ** from ****
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