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csteidler

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223 reviews in total 
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Plot is secondary but hardly missed in colorful adventure, 20 July 2016
6/10

Fred MacMurray is the chief of a forest ranger crew who get plenty of action fighting forest fires. Susan Hayward runs a logging operation down the road a ways. She has her eye on Fred but he thinks of her as one of the boys.

When Fred meets extremely cute Paulette Goddard riding in a parade over in town, he falls for her quickly and they are married in a snap. Poor Susan isn't too thrilled and sets about figuring a way to send Paulette packing for the city she came from.

Okay, so it's kind of a lame plot....Luckily, it really isn't developed too seriously. A typical scene is the one in which our main characters get stuck overnight in the woods with only one blanket for the three of them: lying on the forest floor, they jockey for position for about five minutes, both of the women wanting to cuddle up to Fred. It's kind of amusing in a silly way.

A subplot involves the rangers' investigation into a rash of forest fires—is logger Albert Dekker the local arsonist? The supporting cast also includes Lynne Overman as MacMurray's old-timer right hand man and Regis Toomey as a pilot who flies over fires and radios in intelligence.

Despite the mediocre story line, MacMurray, Goddard and Hayward all look great and give lively performances. The Technicolor is gorgeous and there are some intense forest fire scenes—so why bother about plot?

Also entertaining: As far as I can tell, that really is Fred MacMurray singing a ballad called "Tall Grow the Timbers."

Hilarious tale of actors and egos showcases great supporting players, 13 July 2016
7/10

Brian Aherne stars as David Garrick, renowned 18th century actor, in this wild little tale that is certainly no stodgy biopic but rather "a romantic adventure that might have happened," as the picture's introduction tells us.

Invited to Paris to perform with France's famous Comédie-Française, Garrick stops over a day out from Paris at a quaint country inn. The players of the French troupe, meanwhile, have already occupied said inn, posing as staff and guests, and have plotted out an elaborate ruse designed to embarrass Garrick—who, they have been informed, has made disparaging remarks about French acting.

Ensuing events include plenty of table-turning...and the plot is stirred delightfully when plucky runaway Olivia de Havilland, her carriage broken down on the side of the road, arrives at the inn and asks for a room.

Aherne is funny and dashing, pompous when necessary but also quite capable of being bewildered; de Havilland is funny and radiant and sometimes bewildered herself.

The character actors filling out the cast are also outstanding— Edward Everett Horton as Aherne's valet whose duties sometimes include giving pep talks; Luis Alberni as an actor eager for his chance to play a mad scene; and especially Etienne Girardot, in a small but essential role as a stage hand who takes the Great Garrick's side.

Best of all, though, is Melville Cooper, who probably never had a better role than this one: as the manager of the Comédie-Française, he is dramatic, commanding, a bit ridiculous—the perfect leader for a crew of enthusiastic but misguided actors.

Oh, the costumes look great too. Good fun all the way around.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Slice-of-life comedy features good performances but meanders too much, 8 July 2016
6/10

Frieda Inescort and Ian Hunter lead a solid cast in this minor but pleasant comedy about a London family's dreams and adventures over the course of a single day.

A pair of spirited daughters have some good scenes; Olivia de Havilland is obsessed with married painter Walter Woolf King, for whom she is modelling, while 14-year-old Bonita Granville is in love with the poetry and paintings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Their brother Peter Willes, meanwhile, is planning to run away from home—until he meets new neighbor girl Anita Louise. These young people are all attractive and funny, but their stories pop into the picture sporadically then disappear for long stretches, with the result that we kind of forget about them.

Roland Young is fine as an old bachelor who initially mistakes Inescort for his blind date and then, even after he discovers that she is married, insists that he loves her and attempts to romance her. Meanwhile, Inescort's accountant husband Hunter is pursued by slinky actress Marcia Ralston, who invites him to come up and see her sometime—not, it turns out, to work on her taxes.

The plot is inoffensive if not particularly inspired; the performances are all quite good and the characters too are likable. Still, there's something missing, and it's not just the fact that the whole thing is pretty dated. Possibly there are too many main characters for a 90-minute movie....we just don't get to know any of them well enough. (I would be interested to see sometime if this works better as a play—apparently it had a nice run on the stage.)

Ian Hunter is fine as the male lead but Frieda Inescort has the film's best role....as mother and wife she is alternately bemused, exasperated, challenged, and charmed. She comes closest to being a character we really care about.

Strong cast carries lightweight murder mystery, 17 June 2016
7/10

A shady character named Bartell (John Miljan) is shot dead in a locked room. Several suspects have good motives. His business associate (Lee Bowman) was closest to the crime but we know he didn't do it. Can a pair of rare book dealers on vacation track down the murderer?

Ann Sothern and Franchot Tone make a pretty good team as Garda and Joel Sloane, amateur sleuths who take a summer break from the book business to visit Seaside City. A beauty contest happens to be in town—and Joel finds himself signed up as a judge while hoping that somehow Garda won't find out.

The plot is nothing special but it keeps us guessing and moves fast. The cast is quite good, especially Ruth Hussey as a girlfriend who's no fool. Allyn Joslyn is also fine as a newspaperman covering the beauty pageant and talking up the contestants. ("Why, the last girl I took an interest in has already married two millionaire husbands, and she's only 22. You can do the same.")

Sothern and Tone excel at delivering the kind of light banter that adds nothing to the plot but is the real appeal of this kind of picture. For example, Sothern's complaint that Tone's investigation includes too many beauty contestants:

Sothern: Don't you ever find a middle-aged, unattractive suspect?

Tone: They're just facts in the case, I don't see them as girls....A detective's first thought must be of his case.

Sothern: It's that second thought that worries me.

Busby Berkeley directed this modest production. It's a far cry from his big musical extravaganzas, but there is one scene that looks like his style—it's the hectic pageant rehearsal featuring a flamboyant director ordering around contestants, telling them how to walk, and barking instructions like "You mothers get out of the way." I had to wonder—does this pageant director bear any resemblance to BB directing a musical?

An entertaining B movie spruced up with some MGM gloss.

Pleasant enough but lacks zip, 16 June 2016
6/10

Paulette Goddard and Fred MacMurray share some cute moments in this modest comedy-drama about a married couple just back from the War. Back in 1941 they had planned to divorce—but then Fred went to the Pacific to fight and Paulette became a WAC and zipped around Europe.

Now it's 1946 and they have to decide how—or whether—to put their lives back together.

Of course there are complications....Fred has taken up with the snooty Other Woman (Arleen Whelan), who wants him to get that divorce. And Fred's best friend (Macdonald Carey), seeing that Paulette may soon be free, sensibly takes an interest in pursuing her.

Unfortunately, Whelan's character just isn't very interesting, and Carey comes across as pushy at best. MacMurray and Goddard seem to be trying hard but there's just not much to their story—a lot of talking but not much snap or depth to the dialog, which leaves the plot feeling flat, too.

The two stars do look good; one could always do worse than spend an hour-and-a-half with Fred and Paulette. If the picture is unconvincing, at least it's also inoffensive.

High energy comedy is unpredictable and sometimes bizarre, 2 June 2016
8/10

The jokes fly fast and furious in this wild comedy whose subject matter is—more or less—the making of a wild comedy. It's very clever and extremely silly.

Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson are not exactly the stars but they're at the center of the action and even direct some of it (or attempt to). They do their best to prevent any kind of standard plot from developing but the picture does feature a couple of recognizable story lines:

The wonderful Martha Raye sings and dances and pursues exiled-prince-turned-waiter Mischa Auer, who is funny as always. Robert Paige and Jane Frazee are the featured romantic couple and sing a couple of pleasant duets. Richard Lane and Elisha Cook, Jr., are also very funny as a pair of filmmakers – Lane as exasperated director, Cook as quietly insistent screenwriter.

Most of the picture's jokes are the kind that are not funny if you pause to explain them. Shemp Howard's running bit, for example, as the theater projectionist is a riot but hard to describe…basically, Olsen and Johnson—speaking from the movie Shemp is supposed to be projecting—have to keep hounding him to pay attention, and it's a lot funnier than that makes it sound.

My favorite bit: the "Stinky Miller go home" sequence that interrupts an otherwise charming love song.

Familiar but fun, 26 May 2016
7/10

Assembly line worker Paulette Goddard is sent up to the office, presumably to be fired by manager Fred MacMurray. However, watching events unfold in the waiting room, Goddard sees her chance and instead announces herself as the substitute secretary assigned to accompany MacMurray to Washington, D.C., on a business trip.

Surprisingly, she pulls it off…at least until she meets MacMurray in Washington and he discovers that she has cancelled their hotel reservations because she thought the rooms were too small. The pair set about finding new lodgings in packed wartime Washington—Fred annoyed, Paulette surprised at the fuss—and the plot goes from there.

There's a very familiar air to much of this story….I'm pretty sure I've seen some of these plot elements before:

• Rising young businessman (MacMurray) is engaged to the boss's daughter but finds himself entangled with charming but ditzy employee (Goddard)

• Stranded pair (Fred and Paulette) pose as married couple and take job as butler-and-cook combo

• Important customer shows up for dinner at the very home where MacMurray is playing butler

So it's not very original…but it's still plenty of fun, mainly because Goddard and MacMurray are so fun to watch in these kinds of roles.

Edward Arnold is also good as MacMurray's imperious but good-natured boss. And Roland Young and Anne Revere are hilarious as the couple who hire on our cook-butler team—Revere is "the Major" while Young spends his days at home vacuuming and trying to find a cook who will stay around.

It's nothing profound but has plenty of laughs.

Fast paced but unconvincing comedy, 24 May 2016
5/10

Priscilla Lane does her best to keep afloat in this somewhat entertaining but maddeningly uneven B comedy. Roommate Penny Singleton just wants to get married but office worker Priscilla has ambition: "I'm going to be somebody in this advertising racket and I've got what it takes!"

Standing in her way is co-worker Wayne Morris, who takes for granted that she should be more interested in him than in her job, despite the fact that he is both dense and obnoxious.

Lane is perky but the relationship between her and Morris never seems believable, and a nice cast of character actors are sorely let down by a mediocre script.

Hugh Herbert is fine as the company boss, apparently silly and absent-minded but not as dumb as he seems. Johnnie Davis is his usual blustery self as Singleton's fiancé then husband.

Mona Barrie has most of the film's best lines as a successful but cynical ad writer who's had some ups and downs in the racket herself. Taking newcomer Lane under her wing, Barrie invites her to the lake for a weekend party—whether out of kindness or hoping to stir up mischief, it's not quite clear: "Bring your boyfriend along. Give you a chance to compare him with the other insects."

Alas, Barrie's role is too small, and what might have been another fun role is simply too dull—young Humphrey Bogart as a playboy radio executive is mildly annoying but little else. This might be Bogie's most boring role ever.

Priscilla Lane is very good and her character is smart and likable….but co-star Wayne Morris isn't her match here, and the standard plot just doesn't really work.

Far-fetched but moderately entertaining comedy, 24 May 2016
6/10

Beauty contestant Paulette Goddard has run out of money in New York. Since she is also a sharpshooter, she lands a job at a shooting gallery, where she spots handsome lawyer Ray Milland, whose rich girlfriend happens to be a client at the fortune teller next door.

Goddard soon finds herself substituting for said fortune teller and using her disguise to capture Milland's attention. The ensuing comedy of mistaken identity and mixed motives is somewhat slow to get rolling but does have a few hilarious moments.

William Bendix is lots of fun as Milland's rough-around-the-edges valet and bodyguard. Virginia Field is also quite good in the thankless role of Milland's over-solicitous girlfriend—who can really blame her for being a bit snotty when Ray's head is turned by newcomer Paulette?

There's a kind of subplot involving a real estate transaction that almost gets Milland in trouble with the feds….but the main attraction is the two stars and their mildly amusing process of figuring each other out.

Cute exchange when they're riding together in the car… Milland:"Where you from, Miss Gerard?" Goddard: (four rapid hand claps). Milland: "Oh, Texas, huh?" Goddard: "Deep in the heart of!"

Overall it's no classic but it's certainly easy to watch, especially for fans of handsome stars in slightly obscure comedies.

Modest spy comedy with attractive leads, amusing story, 6 May 2016
6/10

Cub reporter Paulette Goddard is sent to Lisbon, where she is assigned to work under a fiery news service editor who has a reputation for scaring off one reporter after another. It's not too surprising when we see that said editor is Ray Milland; he is indeed a bit of a grump but—again not too surprising—before long he and his new reporter are working together fine.

The "plans" in the movie's title have been etched in invisible ink across the back of a spy whose original scheme called for her to usurp Goddard's place in the Lisbon hotel and then sell the plans to the highest bidder. Roland Young is lots of fun as a British agent dispatched to the hotel to acquire the plans; his counterpart is Albert Dekker, leading a gang of Nazis who must have the plans themselves. Of course, Goddard is confused and annoyed when her hotel neighbors immediately start asking to take a look at her back.

The plot is clever if nothing spectacular—it moves along fast and builds to a rather exciting climax involving a daring escape and a phone booth.

Also of note, I thought—this picture was made right toward the end of that two year period during which Europe was at war but the U.S. wasn't in it yet. Our heroes' sympathies are certainly with the Brits here, but the American patriotism isn't over the top; starting right about the time this movie hit the theaters—January of 1942— Hollywood movies took on a much more aggressive part in the war effort. The Nazis portrayed here are bad guys, but they're not quite as purely evil as they soon would be.

Overall, it's pleasant rather than profound. Milland and Goddard make a good team, and they both look great too.


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