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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
June Allyson and Robert Walker make an appealing girl next door-boy
next door couple who discover each other by accident when he is nearly
finished his tour of duty in the navy at the end of WWII. Like many
girls and young women of the times, she is attracted to him partly
because he is wearing a uniform, thus has a steady, if meager,income.
They decide to get married after knowing each other only a few days and
knowing he will be leaving the area immediately. Unexpectedly, he is
soon forced out of the navy, thus must move into the NYC apartment she
has recently chosen. Like many new couples at the end of the war, she
has a job to tide them over until he can find a civilian job. They
discover various problems with their apartment, such as a front door
with a knob problem, a leaky roof, and a fireplace with no chimney,
along with a building elevator that tends to get stuck between
floors.'Rochester, of Jack Benny fame, is the apartment building
maintenance man, and thus is always showing up with his gravely voice
to promise to get these problems fixed. Meanwhile, the couple always
seem to be trying to outdo each other in buying presents for the other
or furnishings for the apartment,that they can't really afford. A
dinner party that includes her boss and his prospective boss is a comic
disaster. Soon, June's boss takes a romantic interest in her, while a
very aggressive sex siren in the apartment complex takes a personal and
romantic interest in Robert, leading to jealousies that nearly have
them walking out on each other. Fortunately, their apartment door knob
stops working again at a critical moment, forcing them to stay together
just long enough to cool down and realize that their still unstable
attraction to each other trumps these unsolicited external pressures.
Maybe this film had greater appeal for audiences of the time, some of whom no doubt were personally experiencing something like what this couple was going through. However, I found it an amusing, well paced,romantic comedy, with several personable leading characters. Like Doris Day of the same era, June suffered a devastating leg injury as a child or teenager, yet eventually attracted attention as dancer-singer with a winning sweet personality. Her often half-hoarse voice also helped make her distinctive. She was cast in several films with Robert Walker in the '45-46 era, including the tribute to Jerome Kerns: 'Till the Clouds Roll By'.Robert rather reminds us of the later James Dean in looks and boyish charm, often combined with a rebel or misfit side. Like Dean, he would die young, tormented by the rejection of his only true love, a victim of alcohol and drugs.
"Sailor Takes a Wife" is a rare thing--an MGM film that is just
terrible. Normally, even their disappointing films from this era are
pretty good, as the MGM touch was nearly always box office gold. Most
of the reason it's so bad is the writing--and boy is it bad!
When the film begins, an incredibly stupid couple, John and Mary, decide to get married on their first date! Oddly, the star of the film, Robert Walker, did a film with a similar plot--but it turned out to be a gem ("The Clock", 1945). Much of the problem with it this time is that there was no context--you don't see the couple on their date and the sailor isn't about to be shipped overseas like the character in "The Clock". Instead, the couple just come off as impulsive and dumb. And, their dumbness is apparent throughout the film...not just at the beginning.
Oddly, although Mary plans on living without John as he has to report back to his base, the next day John shows up--announcing that he's been discharged for having a bad back. Now the couple who don't even know each other need to somehow work everything out and forge a new marriage. Not surprisingly, there are many kooky complications--few of which are funny.
There are MANY problems with the film other than the dumbness of the couple. There also is a horrid character played by Audrey Totter. While she was a wonderful actress and played wonderful femme fatales, here she is cartoon-like with a silly Romanian accent and over-acting galore. Also wasted are Hume Cronyn and Reginald Owen--good actors who are given one-dimensional writing. The only one who comes off well is Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, whose double entendres are occasionally funny...and a tad risqué! Overall, a terrible film with badly written characters and a super-contrived plot that never seems the least bit real or interesting.
This is a very cogent argument for living together a while before
Robert Walker, very appealing (and extremely skinny looking when we see him chest-up in the bath tub) and June Alyson marry on impulse when he is -- well, he's the sailor and she becomes the wife.
Then he isn't a sailor anymore and they have to live in a large apartment in Greenwich Village, where they learn they have nothing in common and really don't like each other.
She wears her bunny rabbit "jammies" the night of their honeymoon; and really: What man wouldn't be frustrated at that?
The super of the building is Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, whom some tenants seem to call Eddie and some call Harry.
The generally great villain and excellent actress Audrey Totter is wasted in a third-billed role as a Romanian who speaks with an accent sometimes Russian, mostly French,m and, though she wears hats most of the time, appears to be wearing a black wig.
It isn't without charm. But it's ill conceived.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw "The Sailor Takes a Wife" on TCM just this afternoon. I didn't think it was particularly good or bad, it's just that it didn't have a comment and I've been waiting for the chance to be the first to comment. Well, the basic premise of the movie is simple. Mary (June what's her face that was in the so-called "musical" remake of "The Women" which had a non singing or dancing Ann Miller and an eternally pregnant Menopausal Joan Blondell) works in a canteen during the war. She falls in love with John (Robert, the soldier from "Since You Went Away" and Bruno in "Strangers on a Train" Walker), whom is a sailor. (Is "whom" the correct word?) Anyway... Mary divulges that she could never fall in love with someone not in uniform and they get married. Mary rents an apartment, thinking hubby will be back for the weekend. He returns early however, as he is booted from the Navy because of an injury, leaving him home and a civilian. They have a series of quarrels and misunderstandings, mostly involving her old flame, nay ember, and the foreign woman on the 3rd floor. All in all, a good movie to watch when very bored or late at night or when you've already seen the Montel Williams show that's on.
The guy above summarizes and reviews the movie at the same time and I don't have much to add. The scenarios are basic stereo-types from their day. Walker and Allyson are generally good but Allyson's sniffles, sniffles technique she used throughout her career for emotionally impact can be grating. A MGM programmer that was a mild and successful hit. IN the end of this marital strife and farce, love conquers all. What would you expect?
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