A Justice of the Peace performed weddings a few days before his license was valid. A few years later five couples learn they have never been legally married. Annabel Norris, already Mrs. Mississippi and ready to enter the Mrs. America contest, is now free to enter the Miss Mississippi contest.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The First Noel
Sung during the opening scene See more »
Big Radios, Beauty Pageants, and a War in Korea
It's a clever premise, but the results have dated rather badly. Unfortunately, the comedy level never reaches the sparkle it needs, though the opening vignette (Rogers and Allen) comes close. Perhaps that's not surprising given Director Goulding's credits, which suggest he's more at home with Bette Davis melodrama than with material of this sort. Also, I'm surprised a big-budget studio like Fox didn't film this in Technicolor, which would have added a lot to the atmospherics. Instead, we get dour gray tones that undercut the light-hearted mood, making the movie look older than it is. But then, 1952 was a year Hollywood was looking to retool in the face of TV's onslaught. The following year would see an explosion of wide- screen color beyond the reach of the livingroom tube. As a result, this comedy venture may have been caught in the transition.
To me, the Allen-Rogers sequence is the best. It's actually a rather scathing look at entertainment make-believe and the relentless assault of commercial advertising. In private life the two are barely speaking, while on radio they play a pair of happy marrieds who trade comic barbs in between pushing the sponsors' goofy products. It's rather deftly and bitingly done, even though the 57-year old Allen looks like he's been on a two-week bender. In passing—note that even though we see a number of living rooms, no TV's are in sight, only radios! This was Hollywood in its final stage of denial.
The other vignettes are mildly entertaining, with a look at a number of performers on the way up the ladder-- Monroe, Marvin, Wayne, Gaynor. Especially satisfying is the delicious opportunity the letter provides Calhern to turn the tables on the gold-digging Gabor and her grasping attorney. At least the screenplay had the good sense not to reconcile these two at the end. But notice how the script insists the others be reconciled in typical 50's happy ending style. This certainly rings hollow in the case of the feuding Allen-Rogers. Given a second chance, it's hard to see how they could possibly stay together. In the case of Douglas-Arden, the most incisive of the vignettes, they may be totally bored with one another (check the dinner scene), but are too complaisant to actually change. That strikes me as maybe not the funniest, but at least as the most realistic of the episodes.
Anyway, whatever the comedy lacks in sparkle, it is revealing of its time—radio, beauty pageants, war in Korea (implied in Bracken's troop ship). But I'm afraid that the clever premise plays better than the mild results.
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