What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Opposite Sex (1956)

This week, we’ve got more musical fun with the 1956 film The Opposite Sex, starring June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan and Ann Miller! Of course, before we get into the movie, we’ve got another Ant And The Aardvark cartoon, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber! So sit back, and have some fun with this one!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dune Bug (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 34 seconds)

The ant is trying to vacation on the beach, but the aardvark keeps coming for him. While the aardvark is obviously chasing the ant as always, this short adds in a lifeguard that believes the aardvark is a dog and keeps throwing him off the beach. That adds a lot to the fun, even if the lifeguard does look like a complete idiot for mistaking the aardvark for a dog. But, it all helps to set up the final gag, which is quite hilarious! All in all, a very fun and memorable cartoon that I don’t mind coming back to periodically!

And Now For The Main Feature…

At Sydney’s salon, Sylvia Fowler (Dolores Gray) learns from her manicurist Olga (Alice Pearce) that Steven Hilliard (Leslie Nielsen), the theatrical producer and the husband of one of her friends, is having an affair with a chorus girl. Sylvia is delighted at the news, and rushes to tell another friend, Edith Potter (Joan Blondell). Later, when they meet up for lunch with Steven’s wife (and former singer) Kay Ashley Hilliard (June Allyson) and writer Amanda Penrose (Ann Sheridan) to plan out the show for the Footlights Home Benefit, Sylvia tries to hint at Steven’s unfaithfulness to Kay, but she is oblivious. Amanda, who had also heard the gossip, tries to shush Sylvia, but Sylvia won’t take no for an answer, and suggests Kay go to her manicurist, Olga, at Sydney’s salon. Meanwhile, the showgirl, Crystal Allen (Joan Collins), tries (and fails) to meet up with Steven, but he is trying to end the affair. When Kay goes to Sydney’s, Olga accidentally reveals the existence of Crystal’s affair with Steven to her. After talking with Amanda, Kay tries to hide her knowledge of the affair, but she struggles when she is asked to sing a love song at their tenth anniversary party. She decides to go on a trip to Bermuda, and when Crystal reads about her leaving for Bermuda without Steven, she believes the marriage is on the rocks, and tries to meet up with Steven when he is in the park with his daughter, Debbie (Sandy Descher). Kay returns early from her trip, and things seem to be alright. However, at the Footlights Home Benefit, Crystal flaunts herself at Kay to get a rise out of her, although Kay tries to ignore her. Though after Sylvia reveals her knowledge of Crystal meeting up with Steven and Debbie at the park, Kay goes in and slaps Crystal before she takes off, despite Steven’s protests.

Kay leaves on a train for Reno, Nevada to get a divorce. On the train there, she meets and befriends the Countess (Agnes Moorehead) and Gloria Dahl (Ann Miller). They all go to stay at the D-Bar-H Ranch, owned by Lucy (Charlotte Greenwood). While there, Kay has to fend off the advances of ranch hand Buck Winston (Jeff Richards). Not long after, Sylvia comes to stay there as well, as her husband has left her for someone else. When Sylvia receives a letter from a friend that includes a newspaper clipping that reveals that it is Gloria that her husband left her for, they both get into a fight, before Sylvia is charmed by Buck. After Kay’s divorce goes through, her friend Amanda comes to accompany her home, and tries to convince her to go back to Steven. She is too late, however, as Kay gets a call from Steven telling her that he is marrying Crystal. So, Kay goes back to being a singer. At one point, she finds out from Edith that Sylvia has returned, and brought Buck back with her. The news is that Sylvia both wants to marry Buck herself and promote him as a singer. Meanwhile, Crystal and Steve aren’t getting along, which daughter Debbie sees firsthand (and she also catches Crystal talking on her private phone to her new lover, Buck). When Debbie tells her mother about this, her mother springs into action, making plans to help Steven out of his current marital woes.

The Opposite Sex came from a 1936 play by Clare Booth Luce called The Women which MGM had successfully made into a movie in 1939. In both of those previous cases, the cast was entirely female. MGM had been falling on hard times, as, due to the rise of television, audiences were no longer going to the movies, forcing all the studios to make some changes. With changing leadership, MGM tried, among other things, to look back at their past for inspiration. About this time (1956), they tried doing a lot of remakes of earlier hits, like High Society, Gaby, Designing Woman, Silk Stockings, etc., with varying results. For their remake of The Women, they opted to add in men, make it a musical, make it in color, and in cinemascope (not to mention other changes like character names, relationships, professions, etc.).

For many, The Opposite Sex is an inferior version of the story. Now, I haven’t seen the play or the 1939 movie (yet) or the 2008 remake, so I am at best judging this movie on its own merits. It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I enjoyed it more than its reputation would have indicated. I think June Allyson works very well here for the most part as Kay. For a character that is described as, at times, being too nice, she fits the bill. I do think her performance falters a little at the end when she is supposed to “have her claws out,” but she isn’t bad enough for me to trash the movie over it. I think the rest of the cast is good here, too, especially Dolores Gray as Sylvia, who is almost every bit the film’s “villain” as Joan Collin’s Crystal Allen (and I won’t deny that I cheered when she got her comeuppance multiple times). And the rest of the cast is full of familiar faces, whether they be Agnes Moorehead, a very quick appearance for Dean Jones (early in his career, you know), Joan Blondell, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus and a host of others, which adds to the fun (at least for me). Honestly, I would say that one of this movie’s biggest sins is the lack of musical numbers for some of its stars. I mean, we’ve got Dolores Gray here, who is a very good singer, and all she sings is the title song over the opening credits. We’ve also got dancer Ann Miller here, and she doesn’t sing or dance at all for the entire movie. My own opinion of the music, written by Nicholas Brodszky and Sammy Cahn, is that it’s not that great or memorable (although I won’t deny some of the music can get stuck in my head for a while, with no complaints from me). Again, I can only speak to this movie and not any other version of the story, but I enjoyed it, and would certainly recommend giving it a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray is sporting a new transfer that REALLY shows off the film’s color, it’s so vivid! And that alone certainly makes this movie a treat to watch! So, if you have to see it, see it in high definition with the new blu!

Film Length: 1 hour, 56 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Glenn Miller Story (1954) – June Allyson

Joan Collins – The Road To Hong Kong (1962)

Kismet (1955) – Dolores Gray – Designing Woman (1957)

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Ann Sheridan

Hit The Deck (1955) – Ann Miller

Leslie Nielsen – Tammy And The Bachelor (1957)

Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) – Jeff Richards

Show Boat (1951) – Agnes Moorehead

Stand-In (1937) – Joan Blondell – Desk Set (1957)

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