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A golden oldie for our times!
This is a satire on big business types who let a perfectly viable business (in this case, a film studio) fail for their own profit, leaving all the "little people" in the lurch. The words "capital" and "labor" even get bandied around! A few years ago modern viewers might have found this boring, but with today's economy, people may find that they can relate to it better than they expected! Besides that, it's an interesting "behind the camera" look at Hollywood, 1930s style.
Leslie Howard is great as the sheltered accountant who comes to Hollywood to see what's up with his bank's film studio, Joan Blondell is also great in her usual breezy, funny style as the former child star now working as a stand-in for a famous actress. There's also a youngish Humphrey Bogart as a film producer. I really wonder if Howard and Blondell did those ju-jitsu throws themselves, and if those outdoor scenes really were shot in downtown Los Angeles! Quite funny and definitely recommended!
I remember enjoying this movie when I saw it years ago on TV, so I decided to rent it on DVD, but it didn't register as well this time around. I believe this is the film that made Sandra Dee a big star, but her lack of acting skill really grated on me several times, especially when she was supposed to be bubbling over with enthusiasm, though several people here (not to mention contemporary fans) obviously thought she did a great job. On the other hand, she really was cute as a button, and the right age for her role (17), or perhaps even 2 years younger, if it's true about her birth date being falsified. I was surprised that Gidget's parents would be so concerned about her date not coming to her home to pick her up, but had no problem with their daughter spending all day, every day with an older, all-male crowd whom they never met! As for the movie itself, the obviously fake surfing shots annoyed me, and Gidget's first near-drowning made me think of the saying "When you're really drowning, you don't make much noise, because there's too much water coming in". I would have been more impressed with Moondoggie if he'd noticed something was wrong without a lot of fuss! Anyway, this film does have a bit more substance than some of the other "teen" movies of the time, and it's a pleasant way to spend 95 minutes.
Made of Honor (2008)
As a long-time rom-com fan, I always look forward to a new romantic comedy, even though experience tells me that I will likely be disappointed... First, the good things: the two leads are fine, and have good chemistry together (plus, I'm a Patrick Dempsey fan, which helps!). The "meet-cute" is at least original, and the background story about Tom's father's multiple marriages sheds some light on why Tom (Patrick Dempsey) is the way he is.
Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. I don't mind a rom-com plot being predictable, but did the film-makers have to trot out every single Hollywood cliché about Scotland? The only redeeming feature is the beautiful cinematography of the Scottish Highlands. Of course, we all know that Scotland consists exclusively of the Highlands, which are peopled by old-time aristocrats living in castles surrounded by their faithful retainers. Naturally, the hero's rival has to own a whiskey distillery (what other industry is there in Scotland?), be even richer than the hero *and* a duke living a 19th-century lifestyle. Also, I'm no expert on Scottish accents, but I know there are many different ones depending on what part of the country you're in, and I suspect (though I don't know) that an aristocrat like Colin would speak quite differently than Kevin McKidd does. I do appreciate that the director insisted on casting actual Scottish actors for the parts.
It also bugged me that the (American) minister who is asked to perform the wedding ceremony is another cliché, but I suppose that's only to be expected - as a rule, Hollywood filmmakers seem not to have attended a church service in decades, and so have only their childhood memories from 30+ years ago to guide them when creating the role of a clergyman.
The third thing that bugged me was the director's penchant for "ugly" visual jokes - "Tiny Shorts Guy", whose weird appearance is direct evidence of his unworthiness as a human being, and the three bridesmaids who are made to look like the 3 ugly stepsisters when they first appear (especially the short, fat one).
Then there are the usual boring conventions - no one has any money worries, the hero doesn't need a job, his father's gold-digger bride can demand $30,000 *a month* in her pre-nuptual agreement, etc.
I was a little surprised that the film made such a big deal of a man being a "maid" of honour. I personally know of at least one man who was his best (female) friend's wedding attendant, and a woman who did the same for her male best friend, and neither wedding raised too many eyebrows (and we're not talking about avant-garde circles here, just regular people).
One more thing: I agree that the film gives Tom and Hannah (Michelle Monaghan)'s friendship rather short shrift before shifting into romance mode, so it's kind of hard to see *why* the two of them are such friends, especially given his sex life.
The trouble is, this could have been a good movie, but the film-makers just didn't want to do the work of coming up with any original ideas. All in all, watch this if you like rom coms or any of the actors involved; otherwise you might like to try something else.
Penny Serenade (1941)
Great movie except for the ending
After 65 years, this film still rings true in many ways. Several people have mentioned the "bathing the baby" scene, but my favourite is the alarm clock scene. One thing I appreciate is that Dunne and Grant's new baby actually looks fairly new, jerky movements and all - maybe not 5 weeks old, as stated, but definitely younger than the usual Hollywood "newborn". I'm sure that at the time, this movie was quite educational for many people like the two main characters, who thought that you adopt a baby by going to the nearest orphanage, picking out the one you like, and walking out with it. I only wish the filmmakers had taken the opportunity to really underline the fact that *everybody* wants a 2-year-old with curly (preferably blond) hair, blue eyes, and dimples, but what about the 99.999% of less "perfect" children very much in need of a good home? The film does slide toward melodrama on occasion - did it take a full-blown earthquake for Irene Dunne's character to have a miscarriage? One thing I noticed is that this film actually shows a married couple sharing the same bed! Mind you, Irene Dunne is lying on top of the cover with her dressing gown on, tensely waiting for the baby's next feeding, while Cary Grant is off to sleep, but I still wonder how it got past the Hays office. The little girl who plays 6-year-old Trina is not *too* saccharine (except for her voice), but at the end of each speech, she is obviously remembering that she's been told to "Smile, dear, smile!".
What ruins it for me is the ending - their little girl has been dead for only a few *days*, and her parents are ready to start with another baby. IMO, at this point, any normal parents would react with revulsion to the thought of "replacing" their dead child. As another reviewer mentioned, in this film it's like replacing a dead goldfish. If only the filmmakers had implied that several *months*, or better yet, a year or more, had passed, and shown the couple finding each other again first, it would have been much more believable and touching. BTW, several reviewers have mentioned the poor quality of the DVD or video they watched, but the one I had from Triton Multimedia was, not outstanding, but quite all right.