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The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
A law school graduate is hired by a top law firm but doesn't tell them about a problem he has--he's so allergic to alcohol that one whiff of it and he passes out like a light. Written by
Van Johnson and Elizabeth Taylor did two films together during their tenure at MGM and The Big Hangover is the first of them. He's a young law school graduate, top of his particular class, who is applying for an opening in a very prestigious white shoe law firm. She's the daughter of the firm's senior partner Percy Waram and she's crushing out big time on Van.
Van's got one unusual case of shell shock during the war. Two things happened to him, he had a close friend die in his arms in a plane being shot at with anti-aircraft guns and he nearly drowned in a cellar of a monastery that was being used as a hospital. The monks in the place made wine and after spending a good deal of time up to his neck in the stuff, the slightest taste or smell of liquor gets him cockeyed drunk.
It's an amusing bit for parties, but not at all social or business occasions. Liz turns amateur psychologist to discover what's ailing Van.
The Big Hangover is an amusing comedy from MGM, not hardly in the top ten of films for either of its leads. It does have an interesting subplot involving discrimination and the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws that were being passed by a lot of states at this time, New York among them where the story takes place. A Chinese doctor, Philip Ahn, is being thrown out of an apartment the owner is represented by Percy Waram's firm.
Which leads to the highlight of the film and the best performance in the film by Leon Ames who plays the city attorney who is charged with enforcement of the non-discrimination statute. After Johnson chastises him, Ames gives an eloquent statement about how money and success are the gods we cherish.
The Big Hangover is amusing in spots, is serious in spots, has a bit of trouble making its mind up whether it's a comedy or a drama of social significance. Still it is entertaining and fans of the two stars should like it.
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