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I love films with Charles Coburn and although he was mostly a supporting actor, I try to watch every film I can if he's in it. There was just something about his on-screen persona that I found both charming and sweet--despite the fact that he also often played rather bombastic men! He was wonderful in THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES as well as THE MORE THE MERRIER, so Columbia Pictures decided in this case to give him the lead! And, while the film isn't great and the plot is at times silly, the film is still quite watchable just for Coburn. In essence, the film IS Coburn, as the subplots aren't really that important and, in a way, neither is the main plot!! Instead, just watching sneaky and curmudgeonly Coburn is a treat all in itself. The film may lack depth and staying power, but it IS still a lot of fun and you could certainly do a lot worse than watch this movie!
First, Charles Coburn looks awful in a full beard. Second, the movie is
predicated on a premise that doesn't hold up: If a famous writer were
to come to the US from England, why would he be concerned about having
a good cook? He would be dining out with his hosts and hostesses every
night! The character Coburn plays is an unfunny variation on Sheridan
Whiteside. Did the man who came to dinner fuss over whether he had his
own cook? No, of course not: He had the people with whom he was holed
up provide his meals and cater to his every whim.
The movie has some charming female character actresses. Marguerite Chapman is appealing as the Coburn character's daughter, too. But the ex-solider she falls for lacks charm in spades. Additionally, the two have zero chemistry.
It's wonderful seeing little-known movies from Columbia again. But I can't be gracious and pretend that every one of them is a lost treasure.
The year is 1943, and as Robert Osborne of TCM candidly pointed out
prior to the beginning of this movie last night, there were few leading
men available for boilerplate cinematic products like this one.
It's not a bad "bad" movie, it is certainly not offensive. There's just nothing working for the movie other than the effortless performance of Charles Coburn.
Charles won an academy award for a movie filmed about the same time (Best supporting actor - The More the Merrier 1943) and appeared in a total of six movies released in '43.
If you happen to be looking for a soft and warm family comedy with Mr. Coburn, I would recommend, one of my overall favorites, The Devil and Miss Jones, or the above mentioned The More the Merrier (both also star the delightful Jean Arthur).
I recommend this movie only for those who don't want to have to think during a movie, are having trouble sleeping, or don't want to be disturbed while doing their crossword puzzle. It's a good "bad" movie.
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