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Some published reviews of this picture roast it as an inane waste of time, but having seen the film prior to reading those reviews, I was quite surprised. Although there is nothing magnificent about the movie, and it has its far-fetched quotient, it is nonetheless quite a lovely little picture. The awkwardness of the set-up is almost completely outweighed by the believability and lovability of most of the characters. I'm generally of the opinion that Robert Mitchum can do no wrong, but I was unprepared for the calm and masculine sweetness of his performance in a role that might normally have gone to Robert Young or Robert Cummings. Jean Simmons is much more interesting in roles where she can smolder a little, but she's almost adorable here. And the supporting cast, especially Arthur Hunnicutt, is both true to small-town life and quite excellent at depicting well-drawn and individual characters. And my goodness, whatever happened to Eleanor Todd, the cutie who yearns for Mitchum's affections? She apparently appeared in one other film, also with Mitchum. She's really attractive and interesting in what might otherwise have been a cardboard role. Nice little surprise, this picture.
This whimsical movie is set in a fictitious town in Arkansas called
Progress. Places such as Little Rock and Pine Bluff are mentioned. Then
in one part one of the locals talks about the location being a few
miles northwest of Little Rock which would place it somewhere around
Mayflower or Conway, Arkansas. The countryside depicted in the movie
looks a whole lot like southern California. Possibly one reason the
name Progress was chosen was not only to cater to the stereotype at the
time of Arkansas as a backward hillbilly state but also because the
"Natural State's" slogan in those days was "Land of Opportunity." Being
a native Arkansawer (Arkansan), I was pleased to see a fellow Arkansan,
Arthur Hunnicutt, and someone from Missouri, Edgar Buchanan, in the
cast. Hunnicutt is buried in Greenwood, Arkansas, near Fort Smith. He
was a wonderful character actor and added authenticity to the film.
"She Couldn't Say No" teamed Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum once more and the pairing works fairly well, not as good as Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer but better than some of the other female partners assigned him over the years. Both Simmons and Mitchum were top of the line Thespians and much under appreciated, even today. The title is weak and keeps many from watching a somewhat clever and entertaining flick.
I agree with one of the IMDb reviewers that not enough time is spent by director Lloyd Bacon developing the theme of media sensationalism once the press gets word that an anonymous donor has given the 200 residents of Progress money (the exact amount is not revealed but it was obviously a large sum). There's an old W.C. Fields movie "If I Had A Million" and an early TV series "The Millionaire" that dealt with how a million dollars given to strangers would change their lives and rather than making their dreams come true would usually alter their dreams in negative ways. So there was much potential in the basic theme of "She Couldn't Say No" that was never realized.
The idyllic sporting life lived by the country doctor is exploited in interesting ways, especially when trying to hook the big fish in the creek. It blends well with the romantic attachment between the country physician, Dr. Robert Sellers (Mitchum), and the high society lady with a British accent,Corby Lane (Simmons). The repartee between the two is at times humorous, especially in the beginning when Dr. Sellers thinks she's a crazy patient who may have escaped from a mental ward. Digger, a forerunner of Opie, adds a little depth to Dr. Sellers' character and tends to be an asset. All in all this Howard Hughes throwaway is a good one to catch.
This was the hundredth and last of Lloyd Bacon's features (in 28
years!) and it's way down from his career summit, 1934's "42nd Street".
Set in Progress, Ark. (pop. 200), "She Couldn't Say No" concerns a revenant from childhood, heiress Jean Simmons. She learns that spraying her cash around anonymously causes more chaos than gratitude; but she finds love with local doctor and sage Mitchum, watched quizzically by assorted cornpone and cracker-barrel types.
There are few intimations of modernity. TV crews cover the mob hysteria when Ms Simmons's dollar-stuffed envelopes arrive in the citizens' mailboxes. Mitchum contemplates spending his bounty on "one of those bomb shelters". By and large, though, it's timeless, escapist hick hokum. The sun shines, no-one works too hard and the only blacks are a couple of goggling delivery men.
Having deprecated Audrey Hepburn in my comment on "Breakfast at Tiffany's", let me commend Jean Simmons as a British gamine with a wider range and a lot less self-satisfaction. She was suing to get out from under Howard Hughes's bizarre sway at RKO when "She Couldn't Say No" was shot (it was backburnered, like so many Hughes projects, while the boss dithered) and within five years she would do her best work in "Elmer Gantry" and "Spartacus". As usual in Simmons's earlier American movies, the script has to account for her English voice, and there's a clumsy bit of fishing slapstick to prove she isn't a stuck-up Limey; but her spirited sparring with Doctor Robert, her coolly measured tones (no hint of screech or shout) and smouldering sexiness win through.
Mitchum, limbering up for "Night of the Hunter", is his superbly somnolent, reflective yet dynamically masculine and mature self: this quiet man could make John Wayne look noisily neurotic. The couple, who had clicked in "Angel Face", keep the mild, pleasant and not too preachy romcom fresher than most from the McCarthyised, nuke-haunted Hollywood of the early Fifties, when America needed more laughs than it got at the cinema.
Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum both lend star quality to this
unassuming endeavor. It doesn't seem that they're lending it together.
Mitchum was still playing characters, albeit here a country doctor,
who'd have sex with anything in a skirt. Simmons seems less interested.
It's a sweet story. She seeks out a small town whose citizens had helped her when she was a sick child. Now, therein lies the single greatest flaw of this movie: Maybe the print I saw had been cut. However, exactly what this little town did to help a child of privilege is never made clear. And that kinds of eats away at the ore of the movie.
Still, her well meaning but ill thought-out good deeds make for a touching little story.
And the sequence in which people from all over the country drive up, trailers pulled behind their cars, hoping to benefit from her largess, sure is reminiscent of "Ace In The Hole"! That's an infinitely more cynical movie but these scenes have a dark quality too.
The other mystery is Simmons's clothes, especially in the first half. I am not one to pay much attention to ladies' fashions but she sure does appear to be pregnant hen she arrives in town.
She did have a baby not long after this. Maybe the movie was shot completely out of sequence; because in later scenes, she seems trim and chic. (She is chic in the maternity-style clothes, too, but they are hardly flattering to her.)
This is one of those movies that is improbable but fun, with one of the
important features (in my opinion) for a movie - it is
Bob's pairing with Jean Simmons is almost as good as his pairing with Deborah Kerr, although the chemistry is different; perhaps more paternal on his part.
I am, admittedly, a big Mitchum fan, but I won't buy a movie just because he is in it. The other actors in this film do a fine job and help give it a little more substance than the plot would have otherwise.
If this ever comes out on dvd, I'm buying it!
She Couldn't Say No terminated the tempestuous relationship of Jean
Simmons with RKO Studios and her most eccentric boss Howard Hughes. It
was shot in 1953 and released in 1954. Being that it was held up for a
year also made it the farewell film for Robert Mitchum on his RKO
contract. Soon Hughes would unload the studio itself and before the
decade was over, RKO would be out of business.
The film casts Jean Simmons as a rich heiress to an oil fortune who back when she passed through the town as a child she was the daughter of an oil wildcatter, ill and in need of an operation. The town raised the money for her and she's appreciative.
Jean should have taken her lawyer's advice and just given the town a new school or library. But she goes to town incognito to determine the individual needs and wants of everybody. That gets her in trouble, but does provide a few chuckles, no real belly laughs.
Simmons figures to make contact with the doctor who did the operation back then, but he's died and the practice has passed on to his son who is played by Robert Mitchum. He practices medicine as long as it doesn't interfere with his fishing with Jimmy Hunt.
She Couldn't Say No is set in rural Arkansas and the biggest thing the film has going for it is the casting of such people as Raymond Walburn, Wallace Ford, Edgar Buchanan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Gus Schilling, etc. You see all those in the cast and you know the film is not going to be sophisticated comedy. They are as interesting a set of rustics you will ever find in any movie and they more than the disinterested stars make She Couldn't Say No entertaining.
Mitchum and Simmons both thought lowly of this film and I'm inclined to agree.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jean Simmons goes to Progress, Arkansas where she rock and rolls all night and parties every day. Oops! wrong Jean Simmons. Actually Jean does do a little partying in Progress upon her arrival. Progress, Arkansas is a sleepy small town of 200 people and almost all of them character actors. Jean plays a spirited young rich woman who wants to give the citizens gifts and money because they saved her life when she was a child. Her gifts and money cause turmoil in the town. Mitchum plays the level headed town doctor. This may be the only film in his long career where he had to run a fair distance while wearing fishing waders. Come to think of it, Mitchum never really ran much in his films. He maybe did a short dashes in the many war pictures he made, but he never had to do a sustained run. Now Dustin Hoffman, there's an actor who ran a lot in his films. He ran in "The Graduate" and in "Marathon Man." I think he may have even ran a bit in "Tootsie." Anyway, I really liked the premise of "She Couldn't Say No" but I wish the film would have explored the disintegration of the town a little more after their economic windfall. It seemed like the troubles that Simmon's character wrought were resolved too easily as well. I still found the movie to be fairly amusing and entertaining.
SHE COULDN'T SAY NO is a fascinating entry in the canon of Robert Mitchum films; it is comedy set in a small Arkansas town in which he plays a doctor with a passion for fishing. Life proceeds in a calm unhurried manner until spoiled rich girl Korby Lane (Jean Simmons) pays an extended visit. With more money than sense, she makes every effort to make the citizens' life better by giving them presents and/or gifts of cash, as she believes she has a debt to reply to the town, for having saved her life when she was a little girl. Unfortunately she only succeeds in creating chaos. Lloyd Bacon's film (his final work in a long career) has a strong moral tone to it, suggesting quite overtly that money is the root of all evil. D. D. Beauchamp's and William Powers' screenplay has some sharp one-liners in it, allowing Mitchum to display his talent for throwaway observations (something equally evident in the interviews he gave over the years on television). The film also has some strong character-performances by Arthur Hunnicutt (as Odie, a recovering alcoholic with a penchant for non sequiturs such as "It's very Monday today, isn't it"); Wallace Ford (as a splenetic vet); and Hope Landin (as a maternal boarding-house keeper). Simmons' costumes are a continual source of attention, especially when compared with the rather dowdy attire of the citizens; it's clear she is trying her best to draw people's gazes towards her. In terms of ideology. SHE COULDN'T SAY NO is redolent of mid-Fifties attitudes towards women, suggesting that they are not "fulfilled" unless they get married and have children. Hence the ending is rather wearily predictable. But nonetheless there are some incidental pleasures along the way, not least the sequence where Mitchum brings boxes of diapers to one of his patients' houses, only to find that Korby has (anonymously) sent a huge pile already. The sight of Mitchum's face, a mixture of anger and sheer bewilderment, is a sight to behold, reminding us - if we didn't already know - of his versatility as a film actor, despite his public protestations to the contrary.
This is one of those films which, for some reason or other, have become
known by two quite different titles, in this case "She Couldn't Say No"
and "Beautiful but Dangerous". To add to the confusion, it is not the
only film to be known by either of those titles. There were three other
films made between 1930 and 1940 entitled "She Couldn't Say No", the
first of which (now believed lost) was made by the same director, Lloyd
Bacon. Despite the coincidence, however, this film is not a remake of
the 1930 one; indeed, it does not have any connection, as far as plot
is concerned, with any of its namesakes. A Franco-Italian co-production
from 1955, only a year after this film, is known as "Beautiful but
Dangerous" in English, even though this is not an exact translation of
either its French or Italian titles.
The film is set in the (fictitious) small town of Progress, Arkansas, population 200. (In America it would seem that no settlement, however insignificant, is happy to be referred to as a village, except perhaps in New England where the term "village" is thought to confer the sort of olde-worlde rustic charm that is good for the tourist trade). Corby Lane, a wealthy heiress, visits the town in order to express her gratitude to its residents, who had paid for a critical medical operation for her when she was a child. (In the IMDb cast-list her Christian name is spelt "Korby", but this is clearly an error as a set of monogrammed luggage bearing the initials "CL" plays an important part in the plot). Corby decides to help the local people by giving them money anonymously, but things do not turn out as she had planned. A romance also develops between Corby and the local doctor, Robert Sellers.
I watched the film because it features two major stars, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons, but neither is at their best here. Mitchum was generally better in serious dramas, notably films noirs and Westerns; in comedies he could be too laid-back, and here he just seems content to stroll through the film without taking anything seriously. Jean Simmons could be better as a comic actress, but here she appears to be trying too hard to impersonate Audrey Hepburn, who had made a huge impression in her Hollywood debut the previous year in "Roman Holiday". There was, granted, a certain physical resemblance between Simmons and Hepburn, but Simmons here tries to imitate not only Hepburn's hairstyle but also her characteristic gestures, mannerisms and even voice, and her performance (predictably) ends up looking and sounding forced and artificial.
The main supporting actor is Arthur Hunnicutt who, as he normally did, plays a crusty old Deep South rustic with a thick accent virtually incomprehensible to anyone living on this side of the Atlantic. Indeed, it is probably equally incomprehensible to anyone from any part of America apart from Arkansas and the adjacent states. Hunnicutt played an almost identical character in "The French Line" (also directed by Bacon) the previous year; although he was only in his early forties at the time his characters seem much older. Corby is supposed to be American by birth, but the explanation is given that she was educated in Britain, thus accounting for Simmons' accent. Hunnicutt's character Odie, however, assumes that she is from Boston; the difference between British accents and certain East-coast American ones is not as clear-cut as we like to imagine. (I myself have been taken for a New Englander while travelling in one Western state).
This was to be Bacon's last film - he died the following year- and I doubt if it is really the film he would have wished to be remembered by. It has been suggested on this board that it might have been better if it had been made by another director such as Frank Capra, but any director is only as good as his material, and the truth is that Bacon is here trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. The basic idea could have been a good one, but it would have required a much funnier script; the one we actually have is leaden and humourless, with very few laughs to be had from beginning to end. When an inadequate script is combined with two below-par acting performances, the result is generally a predictably poor movie. 4/10 .
Jean Simmons is the "she" in "She Couldn't Say No," a Howard Hughes
film released in 1954 but probably made earlier. Simmons stars with
Robert Mitchum, Arthur Hunnicut, Edgar Buchanan, and Wallace Ford.
Simmons plays Corby Lane, who as a child developed an illness and needed an operation her father could not pay for. The small Arkansas town she lived in took up a collection to send her to St. Louis and get the surgery she needed. Now, she's an adult and is returning to the town to show her appreciation.
Her first stop is to see the doctor who diagnosed her and sent her to St. Louis, Dr. Sellers, but he's gone and has been replaced by his hunky son Dr. Sellers (Mitchum). There's an attraction, but Corby -- who hasn't given anyone her real name -- notices that the doc has a few girlfriends.
She starts her giving by sending people things that she believes they need. They don't. She actually causes more problems than she solves. Then she decides to anonymously mail money (probably $5000 which in those days was a great deal of money - heck, I'd take it now). As soon as the news gets out, people drive in from all over the country hoping to get some nice mail like that. Meanwhile, the town residents are planning to leave and seek greener pastures.
Kind of a strange movie - first of all, Jean Simmons was such a beautiful woman, yet her hair in this film is most distracting as it looks like it was cut with a weed whacker. Also the character she plays is kind of annoying. Just think - Audrey Hepburn did Roman Holiday and Sabrina while Simmons did this.
Simmons and Mitchum make a great couple with lots of chemistry, as they did in the superior Angel Face. Mitchum is very sexy and Simmons does the best job she can with the material. The supporting cast is terrific, and the surroundings do evoke a small town atmosphere.
This was Lloyd Bacon's last film, and what a comedown from 42nd Street! It's a ragged script that needed a little more development.
I've always been a big fan of Jean Simmons and felt that she indeed lost out to Audrey Hepburn once she started working in the United States. Hepburn was a warmer actress, but I think Simmons had more range. Just an opinion.
Okay if you're a Mitchum fan, as he comes off the best here.
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