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Glamorous WW2 comedy is an RKO fest of musical talent with believe it or not, those contract singing and dancing stars Lucille Ball and (yikes!) Victor Mature! He even sings with someone else's baritone too! It is like seeing GlennClose and Sylvester Stallone in a remake of HIGH SOCIETY...or maybe even Jungle Jim and Betty Grable in an imitation PHILADELPHIA STORY. It is an assembled musical with familiar but oddly placed actors and sets: RKO musicals of the 40s had MGM production values but with Republic talent. They have superb art direction and music but somehow out of place actors. HIGHER AND HIGHER is like this: lavish mansions with beautiful furniture and chandeliers, big orchestras, patios, modern nightclubs etc.....and then all these un-together actors placed in roles you might feel better if MGM or Paramount stars were there instead. Lucy is exceptionally beautiful in this film and dressed to impress. Marcie Gray, that teenage Shirley Temple of hep and jive is along for the dancing and comedy as well...so it looks totally like out-takes or a rehearsal for HIGHER AND HIGHER even more so. Good music and fun and quite expensive looking, SEVEN DAYS LEAVE is a patriotic musical of its day...but with Lucy and Victor? It all works in spite of itself.
"Seven Days' Leave" is a WWII-era musical comedy about a young Army
[Mature] who is due a large inheritance. The problem is, he must marry a
certain girl [Ball] whom he does not love, in order to
If one is a Lucy fan, this movie is a great watch. Lucy is actually drop-dead gorgeous in this flick, more so than she had ever been in her entire career, in my opinion.
Also, Harold 'The Great Gildersleeve' Peary adds to the fun, along with Marcy McGuire as the younger sister to Lucy's character.
Unfortunately, this film as a whole is quite mediocre. And, Victor Mature sings twice. FFWD required.
All in all, one watch of this movie is definitely worth it. The video is even worth owning if you like Lucy.
This film is a most interesting and intriguing cultural document: it
was released in November of 1942, or less than a year after the attack
at Pearl Harbor. As most any person who paid attention in their
American history class might know, the first year of the declared war
against Japan, Germany and Italy did NOT go very well for the United
States. Aside from the shocking losses sustained by the fleet at Pearl
Harbor and by the Army Air Corps units there, and the deaths of
civilians on Hawai'i, there was the slow-moving disaster in the
Philippines as the Japanese forces invaded, and rolled up the
U.S. and Philippino losses in that first year of the war were heavy, and the treatment of the prisoners of war there was shocking and brutal, and fairly well-known before 1945.
Watching this film, now, some sixty-four years later, one almost gets the sense of this being a "mockumentary." Of course, it isn't. It's a romantic comedy. But Victor Mature and his Army buddies are entirely too happy for newly minted soldiers facing the grim reality of mortal combat.
This film is a goofy, confusing and fast-paced romantic comedy. It has some nice comedic moments but the true value of this film fiction lies in the romantic music and in the performance of Lucille Ball.
Personality wise, Victor Mature comes off as being kind of ... cheesy ... which is unfair because many people who have considered his entire career find in him an actor capable of subtle and nuanced performances. He could and did play 'noble and heroic' types and he could also be the less-than-acceptable Cad & Bounder. In this film he's a high-voltage goof-ball surrounded by screwball types.
Film buffs who do not know much about cinema productions made during the war really ought to make it their mission to see this film the next time it comes around on Turner Classic Movies. It is fun, in the aforementioned goofy way, Ms. Ball scintillates, and the singing of Ginny Simms and the big band music is exceptional, truly exceptional.
Some day, some day soon, hopefully, some august person will write a dissertation or a pop culture book on the subject of ...
Where Did Rock & Roll Go Wrong ?
Looking back at Bill Haley & The Comets, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, the doo-wop era and the blues-oriented vocal groups of the 1950s, most anyone can see that rock & roll music grew out of the "swing" movement in the big band era.
But what happened to the genius deployed in the big band styles ? How could it have become obsolete so quickly ? Was it "television" that killed the big bands ?? Get a load of the song stylings in this peculiar film, crafted, clearly crafted, as a form of 'feel good' entertainment for the home-front at a time when the news was bad, grim and getting grimmer, and most anyone will have to ask -- where did all those brilliant singers go ??? This is a good film and got a six, but only because the plot is entirely paper-thin. But that didn't stop either Ball or Mature from hamming it up and having a very good time on the silver screen.
Unless you are of that age and those are some of our most senior
citizens nowadays or familiar with the culture of the times, Seven Days
Leave will probably be way out of the league of some of our younger
Through the magic of cable television, today's viewers are of course familiar with leading lady Lucille Ball. Her name will be what attracts viewers to this film. She's a descendant of a Confederate general and a girl with some means. And according to the screwball plot of this film, Victor Mature means to marry her and get some means because he's the last descendant of a Union general who wanted one of his offspring to marry one of the Confederate heirs and bind the nation's wounds so to speak.
Mature is just a buck private, not quite like Abbott&Costello were, but still a buck private and a man with a way with the ladies. I think you can figure out where this one is going.
The film and its silly plot just serve as an excuse to showcase some radio shows and big bands and other assorted acts from the World War II era. Mature is found on a real popular radio program of the day that traced missing heirs and he also appears on Truth Or Consequences with Ralph Edwards. And Harold Peary makes an appearance as the Great Gildersleeve and unless you are familiar with that popular radio comedy you probably won't understand Peary and his significance in being in Seven Days Leave.
Singer Buddy Clark is in the film and when I saw his name in the credits I looked forward to hearing him. Sad his numbers probably wound up on RKO's cutting room floor. I'm sure that bothered him no end.
Seven Days Leave is one terribly dated World War II era film that folks not brought up in that culture will not really enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lucille Ball may get the guy (Victor Mature), but her teenie bopper
sister Mickey (Marcy McGire) gets the songs. In her film debut (the
first of half a dozen she would do during the coure of World War II and
briefly after), McGuire steals the scene as the typical bubbly
bobby-soxer. In fact, McGuire would even get to sing with Frank Sintra
in his acting film debut ("Higher and Higher") at the height of his fan
craze, but here, she's with the future Queen of TV Comedy.
The plot line surrounds a soldier (Mature) who must convince Ball to marry him in order to receive an inheritance. The problem is that they are both engaged. But this is Hollywood in its golden age where reality didn't matter, and we all know what that means. McGuire gets the guy too (Arnold Stang, remembered more as the voice of TV's Top Cat), a squeaky voiced squirt who knits. Appearances by "The Great Gildersleeve", Band leader Les Brown and radio host Ralph Edwards ("Truth or Consequences") round out the cast, plus a nice collection of second rate but enjoyable 40's songs keep the rhythm hot.
After a nice opening ("Please Won't You Leave My Girl Alone"), we meet McGuire singing "Take Me Back to New York" (not to be confused with Cole Porter's "Take Me Back to Manhattan") who then sings "I Get the Neck of the Chicken" after attracting helium voiced Stang. After a rendition of "Can't Get Out of This Mood" by former Kay Kyser vocalist Ginny Sims, McGuire speeds it up to a chase between her and Stang. An acrobatic dance team gives an amusing performance, while Lucy briefly sings "Pop Goes to Weasel" in the "Truth or Consequences" sequence, and another soldier gives hysterically funny impressions of Ronald Colman, Lionel Barrymore and Charles Laughton.
Bouncy little musical programmer. For Lucy fans, there's little of her slap-stick comedic talents. Instead Ball gets to parade around statuesque style in high fashions of the day. And what a gorgeous young woman she was. Plot-wise, there's the usual romantic mix-ups this type musical trades on-- plus, token numbers from the bands including luscious songbird Ginny Simms, and a couple of forgettable novelty acts. Comedy's supplied by the inimitable Arnold Stang (before Milton Berle drafted him), an impish Marcy McGuire, and a gravel-voice Harold Peary soon to get his own Gildersleeve series. But get a load of Victor Mature. He's looser than I've ever seen him, mugging it up in hammy style, and a long long way from his later noir persona. The movie's pretty typical of war escapism, lots of winsome girls and brave servicemen to lighten the load. Nothing special, but a good chance to view Ball in a different kind of role, along with a goofy Victor Mature, of all things.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ONCE AGAIN WE bring you a picture to be reviewed that we should have
done some time ago. In fact, we did believe that we had done this for
SEVEN DAYS LEAVE (RKO Radio Oictures, 1942), but we must have confused
this with another Service Comedy. (I think it was DONDI.)
ANYWAY, THIS MOVIE stands out as being quite unique, difficult to classify and definitely custom tailored to a United States just entering World War II. From beginning to end all of the action takes place in NYC with a gang of newly trained, uniformed Soldiers. But it is far, far away from any Theatre of War. It would appear that it is a sort of 'Bachelors Party' for the Military.
THE CAST OF this one features so many of the performers who were popular at this time. This featured group was not only made up of film actors; but who was on top of his game in Music, Theatre, Vaudeville and Radio. So, we had a healthy helping of the varying musical talents of Les Brown, Freddy Martin, Mapy Cortes, Ginny Simms and the eccentric dance team of Lynn, Royce & Vanya.
FROM THE WORLD of big time Network Radio, we see Ralph Edwards & Company recreate a broadcast of TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES. The 'show' interestingly enough includes the pre-show warm-up and 'selection' of contestants.
AND THOSE CONTESTANTS were the co-stars Lucielle Ball & Victor Mature. For the muscular Mr.Mature, this was a radical departure from his other roles that he would play. His 'Johnny Grea' proved that he could handle comedy, as well as his greatly varied characterizations in ONE MILLION B.C., KISS OF DEATH and SAMSON & DELILAH.
OF COURSE THE co-star, Lucielle Ball was smooth in her performance; which was more of a straight role. This was long before she had become both a Redhead, as well as being 'Lucy Recardo.'
THE VERY TALENTED Peter Lind Hayes made a rare film appearance as a sort of second banana to Victor Mature; giving him ample screen time to both do some great comic bits and to display his abilities as an impersonator of well known actors Ronald Coleman, Lionel Barrymore and Charles Laughton.
THE PICTURE SERVED to introduce to two others, now familiar to several generations since. The first was Harold Peary, from THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE show (a spin off from FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY). The powers that be at RKO thought that including GILDERSLEEVE would be a draw. (Well, Schultz, we can't say we disagree.)
THE OTHER PERFORMER bowing in his first flick was Arnold Stang. Small, be-speckled and speaking in a near slur, he would have a long and highly visible career on Radio, TV, the Movies and in commercials. His tag-line of "Chunky! What a chunk o' chocolate!", can still be heard reverberating across the years! (in our minds)
THE STYLE OF acting in use here would appear to be a throwback to an earlier era. it is very much like that used in Vaudeville, Burlesque and in the Silent Movies. The overdone expressions and held poses would seem to suggest a kinship with both Newspaper Comic Strips and the popularity of the Comic Book; which had only recently emerged as a force in publishing.
AT THE CONCLUSION of this Comedy-Musical fun fest, we have the women now in uniform seeing off the soldiers on a troop transport; which was heading into a true Theatre of the War. It didn't matter either.
THE FRIVOLITY WAS now over and was replaced with the grim realities of combat.
"Seven Days' Leave" is a piece of wartime propaganda fluff--pure and
simple. Much of it consists of lots of soldiers singing and dancing and
putting flowers in their hats--and it makes you wonder HOW the US
managed to win the war if these guys are like the soldiers they fielded
during WWII! After a whole lot of singing and dancing, the plot FINALLY
is introduced. Johnny Grey (Victor Mature) will inherit a fortune. He's
thrilled and plans on marrying his girlfriend. HOWEVER, he soon learns
that there is a stupid codicil to the will. He MUST marry a descendant
of General Allen. It seems, in a VERY contrived plot twist, that
Johnny's grandfather, General Grey, fought against General Allen during
the Civil War. And, the will wants a descendant of Allen to marry a
descendant of Grey to heal up these old wounds. And, this woman is NOT
the lady he plans on marrying but Terry Allen (Lucille Ball)--a woman
who HATES the Greys.
So, you've got a VERY contrived plot, lots of silly and superfluous singing and Victor Mature doing comedy. All in all, it sounds pretty bad...and it is. Even worse is when a fourth-rate guy does imitations of various celebrities. They announce each one before he begins--and you really need to be told who they are supposed to be because you really cannot tell by listening to him! A silly and forgettable film.
By the way, there is a very strange character in the film. Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve (Harold Peary) is the lawyer who handles the estate, right? Well, this same character (and actor) played Gildersleeve in quite a few other films. Plus, Gildersleeve was a very popular radio character who appeared regularly on "Fibber McGee and Molly" and later had his own spin off radio show starring, who else, Peary!
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