Now that we’re here in the month of January 2021, with Doris Day as my featured Star Of The Month, I need to get one of my own entries in, and I can’t think of a more fun film to start off with than her 1950 musical Tea For Two, which also stars Gordon MacRae! But first, we have a few shorts to get through, and then we’ll dig into our movie!
Coming Up Shorts! with… She-Sick Sailors (1944)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 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, 37 seconds)
Bluto disguises himself as Superman to win Olive’s affections, but Popeye tries to prove he is still just as good. While it’s another “Popeye Vs. Bluto” cartoon, this one throws in the fun of Bluto trying to appear as Superman, before Popeye becomes a Superman upon eating his spinach. Admittedly, it does feel weird seeing Bluto without his trademark beard (as evidenced by the different coloring for that area of his face). Still, it’s a fun cartoon, and I enjoy seeing it every now and then!
Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Want To Hold Your Husband (1950)
(available as an extra on the Tea For Two DVD from Warner Archive Collection)
(Length: 10 minutes, 51 seconds)
After ten years of marriage and being ignored by her husband Joe, Alice McDoakes seeks out the advice of a marriage counselor to regain his affections. A bit of fun with this marriage comedy. The attempts to liven up the marriage using the marriage counselor’s advice are at least somewhat amusing, if not maybe a little old-fashioned at this point. I do admit, the closing gag was one of the better moments. It’s an interesting short, although it’s debatable whether I would come back to this one.
Coming Up Shorts! with… Tee For Two (1945)
(available as an extra on the Tea For Two DVD from Warner Archive Collection)
(Length: 7 minutes, 3 seconds)
Tom the cat is playing a round of golf, while Jerry the mouse messes things up for him. This short was a fun revisit, as I’ve seen it a number of times over the years. Obviously, we have Tom and Jerry going against each other, with Tom winning sometimes, and Jerry also winning. The gags may not be original, but they’re worth a few good laughs, and I certainly enjoyed seeing this one yet again!
And Now For The Main Feature…
(Host): Tea For Two was Doris Day’s fifth film, but it was her first time being given top billing in any of her movies. In some respects, the movie was a return to her roots. She had started out idolizing Ginger Rogers, and wanted to be a dancer. Before she made it to Hollywood, she was in a car crash that resulted in her right leg being shattered, thus ending her hopes of a dancing career. As she recovered, she took up singing, which, as we well know, became her big talent. But, for Tea For Two, which was loosely based on the 1924 Broadway show No, No, Nanette, she worked with Gene Nelson and his wife to get back in shape and look good on screen as a dancer. It was hard work, but it paid off, according to reviews at the time (and I definitely agree!) But, let’s get into the movie itself, so here’s our regular narrator! Take it away!
(Narrator): We start our story in modern times (well, “modern” for the time this movie was made, anyway). We find a group of kids all having a fun dance party. Then the kids hosting the party, Lynne (Mary Eleanor Donahue) and Richard (Johnny McGovern), come in wearing some of their parents’ clothes from the twenties, causing everyone to break into laughter. Then J. Maxwell Bloomhaus, or “Uncle Max” (S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall), comes in and tells them off for making fun of something they don’t have personal experience with. He proceeds to pull out something he has been hanging onto for a long time: a ticker tape, which is a reminder to him of how bad things once looked, and yet things did get better.
(Activates time machine, which starts up, but then sputters out)
(Narrator): Give it a kick, see if that works.
(Host kicks the time machine, and it starts back up)
(Host): Okay, here we go, back to 1929!
(Supply your own time travel effects)
(Narrator): As we arrive, the stock market has crashed, and Max is reading the ticker tape as it comes in. His lawyer friend William Early (Bill Goodwin) is looking on as Max gets flustered reading it, and William reminds him that he had told him to invest in government bonds. Now, Max has lost all of the money he had invested for his niece, Nanette Carter (Doris Day), and finds himself with the unenviable position of telling her the news. Meanwhile, Nanette has got a singing and dancing lesson going on with singer and songwriter Jimmy Smith (Gordon MacRae) and his dancer buddy Tommy Trainor (Gene Nelson). They are interrupted by Nanette’s ex, Larry Blair (Billy De Wolfe), who has come in the hopes that she will help back a show he is trying to put on. Of course, she’s no fool, and turns him down. However, he persists, and drags in a reluctant Jimmy and Tommy to help convince her, by telling her a sob story about Jimmy’s troubles with his family. Hearing one of Jimmy’s songs, “Tea For Two” (which Larry hates, by the way), Nanette decides to invest in the show.
(Host): Hmm. In a movie called Tea For Two, the titular song is enough to make somebody decide to invest in a show? I’d say it sounds fishy, but with a catchy tune like that, I can’t say as I blame them, as it’s a song that gets stuck in my head every time I watch this wonderful film! (Muttering to self) Now where are my tap shoes? That song is stuck in there again, and I’ve got some dancing to do! (Heads off-stage)
(Narrator): Well, while he’s seeking out his tap shoes, we’ll get back to the story. As I was saying, she decided to invest in the show, providing she be given the female lead role. Of course, Larry has already given that role to his current girlfriend, Beatrice Darcy (Patrice Wymore), but he is willing to go along with the idea (at least, until he gets the check). In order to invest in the show, Nanette needs to get the money from her uncle Max. When he comes home that night, she tries to butter him up, but he is still thinking hard about what William Early had told him earlier. In doing so, he accidentally makes a bet with Nanette that, if she doesn’t say yes to anything for two days. she would win the $25,000 needed to back the show. Caught with his foot in his mouth, Max is stuck with the bet, and enlists the help of Nanette’s friend and secretary Pauline Hastings (Eve Arden) to help keep her honest. When the two of them go to the theatre to talk with Larry, some of his creditors are there, waiting for word of her check. When they ask her questions about her backing the show, she is forced to say no, and the creditors refuse to allow Larry and his company to use the theatre, Instead, Nanette offers her home as a place they can rehearse for a few days. When Uncle Max comes home with William to make the bet more official (even though they both know he doesn’t have the money to cover the ridiculous bet), they find the house completely occupied by all the actors and actresses (and wow, was that a HUGE crew). Max tries (and fails) to get her to say “yes” through various means, but she continues to say “no” to everything (even when it hurts to do so). Of course, there is some trouble brewing when Beatrice comes storming into the place (since Larry “forgot” to tell her about the change in casting or where they were going to be rehearsing for the weekend).
(Sound of taps slowly getting louder from offstage)
(Narrator): Uh-oh. He’s coming back! Guess I better finish up quickly (we’re close enough, anyway)! The question at this point remains, will Uncle Max’s meddling mess things up, not only for Nanette, but for everybody in the show, too? Or will they find that “the fundamental business of the country is on a sound and prosperous basis” as President Herbert Hoover once said?
(Host): (bursting out onstage wearing tap shoes) I’m back! Let’s get this party starte – oh. You already finished telling the story. You could have waited for me to provide musical accompaniment, you know. Oh, well. Moving on. In all seriousness, this is a movie I have been enjoying for quite some time. Doris Day, as has so far been the case for me with all her musicals, is absolutely wonderful here. It’s fun watching her do a fair amount of dancing, and quite capably. Gene Nelson gets to show off his more acrobatic abilities here in a number of dance routines (just like in The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady), which makes it equally entertaining. And while the music may vary, with different composers represented (which I assume did not all write music for the original No, No, Nanette play), it all still works well together. I will grant you that the songs really don’t advance the plot or give us character development, but I’m used to that (and sometimes prefer it), so it’s fun getting the music stuck in my head (like the aforementioned “Tea For Two)! And the comedy is well-represented here, in between S. Z. Sakall, who practically steals the film, or Billy De Wolfe as one of his more annoying characters (you know, the type you like to see get their comeuppance, like he does), or Eve Arden, whose quips are also amusing. It’s an all-round fun movie, and one I enjoy seeing every now and then! So I can definitely tell you that I would recommend this wonderful movie!
This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.
(Host): (starts tap dancing and singing offkey) Picture you upon my knee, just tea for two and two for tea (trapdoor opens up underneath, host falls through) Not agaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn!
(Narrator): (Steps away from trapdoor lever) Sorry folks, I had to do it. If he had only stuck to dancing, that would have been alright. But nobody wants to listen to that offkey singing!
Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Young Man With A Horn (1950) – Doris Day – Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)
The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950) – Gordon MacRae – On Moonlight Bay (1951)
The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950) – Gene Nelson – Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)
My Dream Is Yours (1949) – Eve Arden
Blue Skies (1946) – Billy De Wolfe
The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)
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