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William D. Russell
light and highly entertaining, and Hollywood, totally out of touch
Set in the absolute seat of anti-Semitism and after Austria was annexed by Germany comes this little light comedy, "Paradise for Three" starring Robert Young, Frank Morgan, Mary Astor, Edna May Oliver, Henry Hull, Reginald Owen, and Florence Rice.
Many, many classic films are set in European locations, even though for years, they were done on Hollywood sets for the most part. Was it because of the European market? To give the films an exotic feel? Even if the film were adapted from a foreign book, a studio could still set it in the U.S. But no, it was always Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, etc.
Why would anyone set a film in Vienna in 1938? No idea, except that Hollywood (and I guess the U.S.) ignored what was going on in Europe for several years. Even when it was acknowledged, studios were careful in their films not to state that people were Jewish (in the Mortal Storm they were non-Aryans) or talk about the Nazis (in the Mortal Storm they showed swastikas but never used the word Nazi), at least at first.
Robert Young is Fritz Hagedorn, a constant contest winner (26 in all) who wins the Tobler Soap motto competition. In second place, unknown to anyone, is the big guy himself, Rudolph Tobler (Frank Morgan). The prize for both is a ski vacation in the Alps, which Tobler takes under an assumed name and brings his butler (Owen) along as an associate.
The hotel is ready to lay out the red carpet for Tobler because his housekeeper (Oliver) has called to say the contest winner is a wealthy gentleman is arriving and has to have the best of everything. She has to hang up before she can give his fake name, so when Fritz arrives, he gets a suite and all the perks. When Tobler arrives, they take him for a bum and throw him up in a freezing cold attic room.
Believing Fritz to be the rich one, Mary Astor sets her eyes on him and makes a play. While in the hotel room with Fritz and Tobler, Fritz opens some brandy. When Tobler tastes it and identifies it by name, as a very expensive brandy, she realizes she's got the wrong guy. So she changes lanes.
Fritz meanwhile is falling for Tobler's daughter (Rice). She tells him that she's poor, knowing he doesn't want to marry out of his class.
Very funny film with some wonderful character acting from the hotel people (Hull, Herman Bing, Sig Ruman), a great dishwashing scene, Tobler being introduced to the features of his hotel room (broken window in the middle of window, ice in the sink, rock hard mattress), and Edna May Oliver skiing. By the way, she was 55 at the time of this filming and died at 59.
The acting from the rest of the cast is delightful. I guess Hollywood least of anywhere cared what was going on in the rest of the world. Just put in a few yodelers, show some mountains, and that's it.
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