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Max Wharton, 39, is the editor of the New York Bulletin -- or he was, until he announces that he's quitting to join the army. Robert Gow, who owns the paper, is furious. But Wharton wants more than anything to be close to the war. And his wife, Polly, wants to be close to him. And so she finishes up her latest movie script, and follows her husband to live near the barracks. She lives in a bungalow with no shower, lights that you have to turn on and off from the outside, a refrigerator that makes a hideous noise when she's lucky (that means it's working), moths and other niceties. Meanwhile, Max, studying hard for his exams, is starting to believe the saw that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Written by
Polly has arrived at the officers training camp bungalow living quarters. She pushes several of her suitcases forward along the sidewalk with her foot. She passes a toddler on a tricycle and says to him, "I wish you were a little older." The toddler mouths a reply or says something, but no sound is heard. See more »
"Over 21" stars Alexander Knox, Irene Dunne, Charles Coburn, and Jeff Donnell in a wartime story based on a Broadway play written by and starring Ruth Gordon. Gordon joined husband Garson Kanin when he joined the service and the play is inspired by that experience.
Here, Knox plays the 39-year-old newspaper editor Max Wharton, who feels that he can't write about the war unless he gets into the fray himself. His boss, Robert Gow (Charles Coburn) has a fit and so does his wife Paula (Dunne) but he insists. Paula gets housing in a broken-down bungalow so she can be closer to him. Max, meanwhile, is having a tough time. There are lots of tests, and there is a theory that people "over 21" can't absorb anything. Also his boss keeps calling, intending to pressure him to return to the paper as he is needed. Paula keeps Gow from talking to Max, but acts as if Max has agreed to write editorials. She then, under the guise of working on a screenplay, writes them herself.
This is an okay movie, if somewhat frantic. Dunne always had a wonderful style and a flair for comedy. She does a good job here but it almost seems as if she's working too hard. She has a huge part and she's not really surrounded by people as good as she is at comedy, so perhaps that's why. Knox gives an excellent speech at the end of the film.
"Over 21" is enjoyable, it's pleasant, it's no great guns, but the speech at the end is inspired.
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