Stage-and-night club star Jeannie Laird (June Haver) buys her first home, and everyone who is anyone comes to her first garden party only to be blinded by smoke from next door. Jeannie ...
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Stage-and-night club star Jeannie Laird (June Haver) buys her first home, and everyone who is anyone comes to her first garden party only to be blinded by smoke from next door. Jeannie charges next door to bawl out her new neighbor and meets comic-strip artist Bill Carter (Dan Dailey). Bill has devoted himself to his strip, and raising his ten-year-old son Joe (Billy Gray) since the death of his wife. Joe bases his strip on the everyday happenings of he and his son and is proud of keeping it scrupulously honest. When Jeannie and Bill fall in love, young Joe is hurt, especially when Bill starts using a lot of the father-son time to be with Jeannie. Bill cancels a father-son trip to Canada, and Joe decides to write a letter to Bill's syndicate pointing out that the current plot line of the script being set in Canada isn't honest, since they didn't go.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Obscure Musical Is Innovative and Well Made, with Execellent DVD Extras
This obscure film was a treat for me, a classic film buff; it's a rare musical from Hollywood's golden age that's I've never seen nor even heard of. The Girl Next Door is not only very well made and entertaining, but in 1951 this was cutting edge both in story and in the way it's musical numbers are staged.
Plotwise, it's a mild domestic drama, coupled with a conventional romance. Innovative is that the story portrays a warm, friendship-based father-son relationship which functions very well without a mother or other woman being around. When the father falls for the professional singer-dancer woman next door, the son is resentful.
The dance numbers are not only well staged and performed, but refreshingly creative. The standout is a film-noirish number, shot with highly stylized camera angles, stark lighting, highly effective use of contrasting colors, and slinky jazz dance moves. The capper is that the number is supposed to be a nightclub performance with Dan Daily in the audience; mid-number, he imagines himself into the number, first as a shadow and then as the primary male dancer (a la "The Purple Rose of Cairo", decades later). The film's opening is remarkable for it's time; credits are superimposed (very unusual for the time) on the first of a three song extended musical number which immediately set's up the story and gives us a lot of information about June Haver's character.
Dan Daily is likable, charming, masculine, believable, as well as being a good enough dancer and singer. June Haver is sexy in a very wholesome way, has a great body, moves well, but is somewhat bland in the personality-acting department. Her singing is dubbed. The only weakness in the film are that Denis Day is barely mediocre as a comic second banana, though his singing is beautiful, if you like old fashioned Irish tenor vocalizing. Cara Williams is radiant and sassy in the typical role of wisecracking friend of the heroine, but she's given little screen time and the zingers she's given to say are bland. Otherwise the dialog is far above the norm for musicals of it's era.
The DVD includes 3 documentary featurettes; 2 are very informative and well done, one is about the film and the other about Dan Daily. The third is about Billy Gray (Bud of "Father Knows Best"), it's hampered by not having any footage from non-Fox films he made, nor from the classic TV show.
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