For our next movie, we have the 1959 comedy It Started With A Kiss, starring Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Symphony In Spinach (1948)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
(Length: 6 minutes, 29 seconds)
Popeye and Bluto compete for a spot in Olive’s band. Yes, it’s still Popeye vs. Bluto fighting for Olive’s affections, so that’s nothing new. However, it’s fun seeing how they try to outdo each other with all the various musical instruments. And I love seeing how Popeye got his spinach from a free sample letter from the Sampson Spinach Co., addressed to Famous Studios, the creators of this cartoon! Not one of the best, but I certainly had a few good laughs with this one!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Dancer Maggie Putman (Debbie Reynolds) decides to borrow a dress from her job to go work a raffle booth at a charity bazaar, where she hopes to catch the eye of a wealthy bachelor. She catches someone’s eye alright: Air Force supply sergeant Joe Fitzpatrick (Glenn Ford), who was in the lobby with a friend trying to set him up with a date when Maggie walked in. Joe tried his best to get her attention, including buying a raffle ticket (which was for a very fancy car) but, since he wasn’t rich, she kept trying to ignore him. However, she has to leave when her dress gets caught and is torn apart. She forgets the torn off part of the dress, which he returns, in exchange for a date. When they kiss, just as an experiment (yes, It Started With A Kiss, I know), they decide to get married in a hurry. Of course, Joe has been on leave, and has to take off for Spain, leaving her with instructions to join him shortly. Not long after he leaves, Maggie finds out that he won the raffle for the fancy car, but when she writes him about it, she decides to keep it a surprise. However, based on the wording in her letter, Joe thinks she was trying to tell him she’s pregnant (in spite of not even being married a month yet). When she arrives, that matter is quickly cleared up, but in between that misunderstanding and how the Air Force personnel are reacting to her manner of dress, she decides they need to base their marriage on more than a physical attraction, and gives him an ultimatum of no sex for one month or she leaves. He’s not thrilled, but he decides to go along with it. Little does he know how much trouble her ideas about wealth and their new car are going to cause him, with it attracting the attention of the ambassador (who doesn’t want the Air Force personnel to give off ostentatious displays of wealth among the Spanish people), as well as the Marquesa Marion de la Rey (Eva Gabor) and her friend, the bullfighter Antonio Soriano (Gustavo Rojo) (who also finds himself interested in Maggie).
It’s been said that this movie was being planned as early as June 1957, when producer Aaron Rosenberg bought the property as part of his new contract with MGM. The plan was to use the original storywriter, Valentine Davies, to write the screenplay, although that ended up being handled by Charles Lederer (or at least was credited to him). The movie rather famously made use of one gag previously used in the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, in which, in this movie, Glenn Ford accidentally tears Debbie Reynold’s dress and then he has to walk in-step with her from behind to help her out of the room while hiding the torn dress. The movie also made use of the concept car Lincoln Futura, which would famously be used again a few years later on television as the Batmobile in the classic TV series Batman (although obviously with a slightly different coat of paint).
I know this is one of those movies that seems to have mixed reactions with audiences, but I happen to be one of those who like it! For me, Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds work well together, and play off each other’s timing real well! It’s easy for me to understand why they were quickly teamed up again for the movie The Gazebo! Throw in other fun comedians like Fred Clark as the Air Force general who has to deal with all the problems (including Debbie’s character accidentally getting into his bed and all the fun that entails), plus two people who would work together on television in a few years (even if they didn’t really share many scenes here), Eva Gabor and Edgar Buchanan (who would work together mostly with crossover appearances on the TV series Petticoat Junction and Green Acres). Now, is the plot the movie’s strong point? Not really, as it just seems like a lot of stuff getting thrown at them as excuses to keep them apart after bringing them together so quickly while padding the runtime, but it works well enough for me, and I enjoy getting to watch this one again every now and then! So, yes, it’s certainly got my recommendation!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The new Blu-ray is sourced from a recent 2K scan, and looks great! The detail makes it worth seeing (especially when the Lincoln Futura is onscreen), and the colors are as vivid as one could hope for! Honestly, let’s keep this simple: it’s a Warner Archive release, so for the picture quality alone, it’s worth it!
Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Tammy And The Bachelor (1957) – Debbie Reynolds