|Index||3 reviews in total|
W.A.W. opens up in a magazine publishing office, where they are
discussing how to interview the latest best-selling author, who no-one
has ever met. Flash to Carol Ainsley (R. Russell, nominated for four
Oscars), who is the agent for the un-seen author. She is determined to
track down the author (played by Willard Parker), and doesn't realize
the can of worms that revealing him may open... Brian Aherne is
"Pepper", a magazine editor who is writing a story on Ainsley, and
keeps popping up where-ever Ainsley goes. For most of the film, he is
sitting in chairs, waiting for Ainsley to go through the doorway, or
come back from where-ever she has been.
Keep an eye out for some fun supporting characters - Carol's assistant is played by Grady Sutton is a few years after making those hilarious W.C. Fields films. The office secretary is played by Norma Varden, who was so great as Lady Beekman in "Gentlemen Prefer Blonds". The mens dormitory clerk is Chester Clute, who looks and sounds just like Mel Blanc. Unfortunately, all these actors have very few lines; given a few more lines, they could have spiced the film up a bit. Russell does a great job, and carries the film well. It's a lot of fun to watch, although it's more plain and simple than I was expecting; after seeing her in "Friday", I was hoping for more plot twists. She has the same, strong, fast-talking personality that she had in "His Girl Friday". It was refreshing to watch an upbeat, war-time movie without a single mention of the war. Directed by Irving Cummings, who had directed Shirley Temple in four films in the 1930s. I hope Turner Classics starts showing this more often.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rosalind Russell seemed to play a bazillion roles over the years in
which she played high-powered yet rather sexless ladies. So, when you
see her in "What a Woman!" playing exactly this sort of character once
again, you have a strong sense of déjà vu. This means if you are an old
movie fan like me, this film seemed rather clichéd because this topic
has been done too often...and done better.
The film begins with Rosalind playing an executive at a major publishing house. She has a very successful author working for her and there is talk of making a movie of the man's book---yet no one has seen him or knows anything about him. So Rosalind is determined to track down this guy--who turns out, oddly, to be nothing like you'd expect. While the book is apparently some sort of romance, he's a bookish and rather asexual professor (Willard Parker). Inexplicably, Rosalind has the crazy idea of bringing Parker back to New York and molding him into the character from his book so he can play him in an upcoming movie. Why? This is never explained.
Parker turns out to be pretty awful, but still Russell pushes him....again, I asked 'why?'. But, when she kisses him and coaches him, he suddenly turns into a love-sick puppy. He very, very ardently pursues her and she shows as much interest as a person looking forward to a root canal--and it's obvious to everyone except Parker.
At the same time, a reporter (Brian Aherne) has been floating about throughout the movie--as if he has no job or is on an extended vacation. It's obvious that he, too, is interested in Russell. This and the Parker romances make no sense, as neither man has any reason to even like her--she is 100% asexual and about as alluring as boiled turnips. Yet, you know by convention that by the end of the film she will become a 'real woman' and marry one of the two male leads.
I'd say this film was in need of a massive re-write. Although it starts off promisingly (even though it has a lot of familiar elements), midway through the film it totally loses direction. The characters begin acting inexplicably and you wonder if ANYONE could behave this way. In movies, yes...in real life, absolutely never! In addition, the characters don't do a whole lot other than act kooky--mostly because the writer has given them nothing more to do. And the ending comes out of no where!! A time-passer and nothing more.
This mildly preposterous riff on the by now standard Rosalind Russell
comedy -- high powered woman executive meets easy-going, mildly
contemptuous bohemian and falls into frilly love by the end of the
fifth reel -- winds along its well-greased way in a mildly bemused
fashion. Long-time pro, Irving Cummings directs this well enough, but
only Miss Russell puts any oomph into her role and the visuals mainly
seem concerned with her head, making sure that she has an odd looking
hat or hairdo that seems to change with every scene. She wears some
dynamite dresses also; credit Travis Banton for the dresses. He seems
to have specialized in gowning Carole Lombard in her movies.
Everyone seems to be giving it the old college try, but by now the formula had grown pretty tired, sustained only by war time movie attendance and some hope that all those Rosies out there, busy riveting together planes and battleships would be able to spend their times in silly hats once the war was over and men like Brian Aherne would be free of the restrictions of bow ties.
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