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William A. Seiter
Jim and Walter are two brother sailors in the United States Navy. Walter tells Jim as soon as they get home he is going to ask his beautiful girlfriend, Nancy Larkin to marry him. But Jim is also in love with Nancy so he begs Nancy's ugly duckling sister, Letty to help break Walter and Nancy up. Letty agrees only under one condition, he help her to win Walter!Written by
A fine example of screwball farce, SAILOR showcases the unique and variegated talents of irrepressible Martha Raye as one of a pair of Larkin sisters, each of whom is after one of a pair of U. S. Navy Brewster brothers, and the question soon arises as to which of the possible pairings will ensue. Paramount, developing a Bob Hope/Raye team, casts Hope in his third feature for the studio as Jim Brewster, with Jack Whiting as brother Walter, each angling for the glamourous one of the Larkins, Nancy (Betty Grable), a competition which began when all four were youngsters. Raye portrays Nancy's sister Letty, who has agreed to assist Jim in garnering her sister's affection in return for his aid in winning the heart of Walter who is ignorant of the machinations about him, none of which is terribly complex for what is, after all, a musical comedy. Raye performs one of the five Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin songs, as does Grable (with Whiting), but it is Letty's gorgeous legs that win for her first prize in a national photo contest, ironic in light of Grable's pinup popularity, due to her own shapely stems, with American fighting men during World War II. Walter eventually notices Letty because of her new celebrity status, and the usually rather rambunctious singing comedienne has an opportunity to show him why he is mistaken in preferring her sister. Of the three films which Raye and Grable made together, this is perhaps the most blithe, and a scene wherein Letty uses overmuch facial masking which hardens to her deliciously acted consternation, draws gales of laughter wherever the picture is shown. Although we find Hope playing second lead to Raye, he plays his part with his normal aplomb and his comedic timing is impeccable as always, although his ad libbing is minimal. Leroy Prinz is responsible for the interesting choreography, and a splendid novelty scene has Grable singing "What Goes On Here In My Heart" while dancing with a collection of eager-to-please partners. Clarence Kolb, as the commanding officer of the Brewsters, is impressive as ever, and Director Elliott Nugent is able to call upon his father J.C. to perform as the Larkins' sire. Consistent with the director's customary panache and rapid pacing, SAILOR offers many treats, musical and otherwise, with the important editing function neatly handled by the generally overlooked William Shea.
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