When Pete's plane crashes in the swamp, he's rescued by young Tammy, an unsophisticated backwoods girl who lives with her lay-preacher-cum-moonshiner grandfather. When Pete's well, he goes back home to his fiancée. But then Grampa gets sent to jail and he sends Tammy to stay with Pete. At Pete's house, Tammy's home cooking, enthusiasm and quaint sunshiny personality bring about changes in Pete's family and in Pete himself. Written by
Winningly Simple Story; Classic Character; a Delight
This is a movie that is extremely well-made, more-than-decently- acted, and it is a movie with a theme--"be the genuine article". Case in point--Tammy, a girl living on the bayou with her Grandfather in a houseboat, dreaming dreams and never going anywhere. Whatever she is, she is genuine; Tammy speaks her mind, a quick-learning one, and can do many things, although she lacks "book larnin'". And like her spiritual ancestor, Scarlett O'Hara, she wants Life with a capital "L", not a second-rate existence. So that when a handsome pilot crashes near the houseboat and she nurses him back to health, it seems perfectly natural that she and Nan her goat should walk all the way to find him to ask him to return the help, when Grandpa is taken away--not by death as the family of the pilot and he believe but by the authorities, because he has been making corn liquor instead of confining himself to preaching. Once she arrives, Tammy affects the life of every person she encounters from the cook to the real owner of the mansion, a whimsical Aunt who has always wanted to be a painter and live a Bohemian life in New Orleans. While she pursues the pilot, affianced to a stuck-up girl who does not understand him, she gets involved in the great tomato project, the lives of guests and family, the amorous fantasy of Pete's best friend, the annual historical reenactment--wherein Aunt Renie dresses Tammy in a low-cut gown like some modern transforming fairy godmother--and more. All comes out well in the end, since the pilot can no more resist Tammy than anyone else can. So Grandpa is released from jail just in time to see the boy come after Tammy to tell her she's his girl, forever. The cast of this very attractive and color-filled satirical comedy does very well with the material. Fay Wray is thin-lipped as a disapproving mother, Leslie Nielsen is very good as the pilot; Sidney Blackmer would have been Academy Award caliber as the father of this dysfunctional family if the author had given him more lines; Mildred Natwick as the artist aunt, Aunt Renie, has one of her best roles else. Others in the large cast includes Louise beavers as the cook and Craig Hill as the pilot's amorous friend, with Walter Brennan as Grandpa. The cinematography by Albert Arling is glowing and consistent; Bill Thomas's costumes represent another triumph for him in his department. Frank Skinner provided music, while Livingstone and Evans wrote the hit theme song, "Tammy". The art direction by Bill Newberry and Richard H. Riedel is unusually good as is the direction by Joseph Pevney. Credit for the clever screenplay goes to Oscar Brodney, who adapted the novel by Cid Sumner Ricketts on which the on screen events are based. It can be objected that the event portrayed are not "real". Millions of moviegoer disagreed; the danger in the character of Tammy is that she is a pseudo-religious figure at basis, an "uncorrupted child of nature who brings the sinful rich folks in the big city back to the Lord and honest ways". Only not one element of this dangerously-wrong set of conventional ideas takes place in this film. What happens is that an unspoiled young girl, only somewhat glossy and overly-cute thanks to the author of her novel, comes across on screen in the person of Debbie Reynolds as an very attractive version of the country mouse, the Man From Mars, the outsider--the one who comes in somewhere and by being honest sees through and works to undo the pretensions of everyone she meets. It is not always realistic. although certain scenes are very strong, and the dialogue coming from Tammy is often amusing; but it is more than occasionally heightened realism, which is called 'fiction", a very scarce commodity these past thirty years in case anyone has forgotten what it looks like. The Tammy character as revived in several sequels with some charm but nowhere near the original effect.
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