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Unless you are a big George Gobel fan I'm not sure you'll like The
Birds And The Bees. Especially after you've seen the Preston Sturges
classic The Lady Eve which this is a remake of. I wonder how Preston
Sturges felt about Gobel taking over a part that was created by Henry
One thing though, while Mitzi Gaynor got an opportunity to sing and dance a pair of numbers, one of them a duet with Gobel she sure lacks the spark that Barbara Stanwyck brought to the part of the female card shark. Glad they put those numbers in for her, giving her a chance to do what she does best.
David Niven is third billed and takes over the part of Gaynor's father which Charles Coburn played in the original. Due to his star status his part is built up somewhat. They gave him a touch of gray in his hair and Niven looked older than 46 years at the time. Three years later Niven and Gaynor would be playing husband and wife in Happy Anniversary.
Try as I might I can't conceive that Gaynor would waste her time with Gobel unless it was the millions that he had. See The Lady Eve before you see this one and judge for yourself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This fun, if unnecessary remake of "The Lady Eve", really tried to make
a silk purse out of a sow's ear by casting forgotten TV star George
Gobel in the role originated by Henry Fonda. He's a memory from my
childhood from being practically on every variety show, but for most,
he's an acquired taste. As the heir to a hot dog manufacturing plant,
he's wanted by every glamorous social climber on the elegant steamship
he boards, carrying a rare snake yet unaware of the snakes awaiting the
opportunity to carry away his hot dog fortune. A clunk on the head by
an apple dropped by card shark Mitzi Gaynor leaves him all wet, and an
intended trip over Gaynor's amble foot leads to an introduction that
opens up her heart as she finds that she genuinely likes him for more
than just his sausages.
As talented as she is, Gaynor is no Barbara Stanwyck, although two songs were added for her, one of which (the title song) she sings with Gobel. Taking on the role of Gaynor's opportunistic father is David Niven, ironic considering that he played that part originator's (Charles Coburn) in "Bachelor Mother", another screwball comedy classic of the golden age. While Preston Sturges helped adapt the screenplay of the remake of his own film, much of if is verbatim. The film is colorful and lavish, but I don't see the chemistry with Gobel and Gaynor that I did with Fonda and Stanwyck.
However, this does have a fantastic supporting cast of veteran funny people, with Reginald Gardiner as Niven's partner, Fred Clark as Gobel's father and Harry Bellaver as Gobel's protector. Bits by Roscoe Ates, Mary Treen, Norma Varden, and the coincidence of the presence of both Charles Lane and Charles Cane fill out the roster. Gobel focuses more on pratfalls than the naive charm of Fonda which might have appealed to his fans but didn't bring in box office, and smashed his film career before it took off from the nest (or the hive). Considering the number of classic screwball comedies being remade at the time, I can be thankful that this had Gaynor, not June Allyson, which seemed to be the trend of the time.
Birds and the Bees beats the Lady Eve for the simple reason that Henry Fonda isn't funny. The man can't do comedy to save his life. George Gobel is a hoot. Viewers would do well to stop comparing the two movies and accept it on its own terms. The scene between Gobel and Niven where they discuss a subject then clap their hands over each others mouths before the other can reveal anything is classic. David Niven was never funnier. Gobel wrote the book on playing bumbling ineptness, something Fonda couldn't approach. For me, it was Fonda who was miscast in the original movie. Anyway, give it a view and don't try comparing it to anything. You'll have a good time with it.
A much better remake than it has a right to be. The improvements over the original includes a much better musical score, the advent of color.and the addition of the 2 leads Mitzi Gaynor and George Gobel. Hank Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck are physically well matched so it is hard to swallow her character not being attracted to his character. For the remake because Mitzi and George are so mismatched physically, and there seems to be chemistry between the two principals the romance works. The screen play trims some of the fat off the supporting characters Fred Clark always shines with the brunt of the story focused on the main leads. The casting of George Gobel using his television alter ego as an innocent over an obvious ploy by what should be another fortune hunter is delicious for me. The supporting cast rounds out a formula musical comedy. I look forward to a DVD copy of this movie.
During an transatlantic sea voyage, a card shark and his daughter, Mitzi Gaynor, cheat a wealthy simpleton out of a lot of money, but complications ensue when the the girl falls in love with the victim. David Niven is his usual charming self as the father, but George Gobel as the love interest is wooden and the film falls far short of the original. Preston Sturges directs this mixture of slapstick and sentiment. Save your money and rent the original, The Lady Eve, instead.
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