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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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954)

“Nice night for a coon hunt.”

OK, now that I’m done trying to flirt with the ladies, we’ll get on to my thoughts on the movie Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

Of course, the film’s plot is well known. Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) comes to town, determined to return home with a wife in tow. He finds Milly, (Jane Powell), who marries him, and sticks with him, even after she arrives and discovers Adam’s brothers (and his views). She then tries to positively influence the brothers, which works except for when Adam disagrees with her. At a barn-raising, the brothers fall for some of the girls from town, but get into trouble when the suitors from town start a fight with them. Feeling like they have no chance, they listen to elder brother Adam and kidnap the girls.

As a whole, I think this movie’s reputation speaks for itself. I know there are aspects to it that really don’t jibe with a lot of things today, and that is understandable. Of course, it is all up to the interpretation of the viewer. For me, personally, this movie is one I have enjoyed watching for many years, and one I definitely would recommend to everybody, as long as they are willing to try it. It’s worth it just for the barn-raising sequence alone! I may not have been watching it as much the last few years, but with my new Blu-ray disc, I will definitely be trying to watch it more often again. Speaking of which…

Now, normally, I don’t want to try and push any one format for viewing. In this instance, I really want people, if they can, to try the newly released Blu-ray, and I’ll tell you at least two reasons why. First, this release contains two versions of this movie. At the time it was made, the movie studios were trying to find a way to combat the recent menace of television, and get people to go back to the movie theatres. One way they tried to do that was by switching to widescreen movies. MGM decided to film this movie (and several others) in two different aspect ratios, because they weren’t sure whether it was going to be permanent or just a fad like the attempt at 3-D. They had the Cinemascope version (the one we all know and love), and they had an alternate widescreen version (framed in such a way that they could cut off part of the sides), using completely different takes. Of course, by the time the movie came out, Cinemascope had taken off in popularity, and so the alternate version was barely seen, until it was released on laserdisc in the late 90s (and again on DVD as part of a two-disc set around 2005).

The second (and better reason) to try the new blu is the movie’s new RESTORATION. For the most part, popular movies tend to be in rougher shape, but from what I have heard, back in the 70s, the studio decided to blow it up to 70mm. I don’t know whether it was the fact that they did it, or whether it was poorly done, but they REALLY damaged the original camera negative when they did that. So what we have seen, for years, is what they have been able to cobble together from the best sources they had available, which would not have produced a good Blu-ray without EXPENSIVE work. From what I have heard, they found an old print that had been made BEFORE the damage was done to the movie. Warner put a lot of work into it, and that is what they have released on blu. I can tell you right now, the movie looks AMAZING. So much more colorful than what we have seen for a long time. Does the movie look perfect? No, but from what I have heard, whatever problems remain have EVERYTHING to do with how the movie was originally filmed in the first place (after all, technology isn’t always perfect).

I have no idea whether the new transfer is available as a digital copy (possibly through Warner Archive Collection on iTunes), but I know the new transfer is NOT available on DVD. I know not everybody has the ability to watch blu-rays, but if you do (and you enjoy this movie), I VERY MUCH RECOMMEND you try it out! Pricing wise, it is a little expensive (which is to be expected, since Warner Archive is a MOD (manufacture-on-demand) division, which tries to give the same quality as the retail division, while acknowledging that sales will not be as good, so prices are a little higher to help offset that), but this two-disc set is priced the exact same as their one-disc releases, so it is a bargain!

“I’m a lonesome polecat…”

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes (for both versions)

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases of 2018

**ranked #5 in Top 11 Movies Watched In 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jane Powell – Athena (1954)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) – Howard Keel – Deep In My Heart (1954)

Jeff Richards – The Opposite Sex (1956)

Russ Tamblyn – Deep In My Heart (1954)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) – Tommy Rall – My Sister Eileen (1955)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!