What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

We’re back again to keep things musical this month with today’s entry in the Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon, as we take a look at MGM’s all-star musical from 1945, Ziegfeld Follies!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Luckiest Guy In The World (1947)

(available as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 21 minutes, 9 seconds)

Charles Vurn (Barry Nelson) struggles monetarily, due to his desire to get rich quick (mostly by gambling). When he accidentally kills his wife, his luck “seems” to change for the better. This was the last short in the “Crime Does Not Pay” series of shorts produced by MGM. It’s an interesting short, that feels well-acted and pulls you in for the story. Amusingly, considering this short’s inclusion as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray, it includes part of Red Skelton’s skit from the movie done as part of a radio program heard in a car. I’m still no fan of the “Crime Does Not Pay” series, but this one was interesting to see once, anyways.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Hick Chick (1946)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 or as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray, both 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: 7 minutes, 10 seconds)

Hick rooster Lem ends up fighting with a city slicker for the affections of his girlfriend, Daisy. A bit of fun here, with the city slicker rooster imitating Charles Boyer, while Daisy also does an imitation of Katharine Hepburn (if I’m correct). Not the most original, with the hick rooster constantly being punched in the face the same way by the city slicker, but it’s still fun. Enjoyed the chasing around (plus the bull being “stripped” of his fur several times). Maybe not Tex Avery’s best work, but I had a few good laughs here, and that alone makes it worth it!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Solid Serenade (1946)

(available as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 25 seconds)

Tom the cat tries to serenade his girlfriend, but when he disturbs the sleep of Jerry the mouse, he lives to regret it! An old classic “Tom & Jerry” cartoon, with him famously singing “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby.” I’ve seen this one for years, and always get a laugh out of watching Tom facing off against Killer, the bulldog, when Jerry lets him loose. The gags just get funnier as the short goes on, and this one never gets old!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): Ziegfeld Follies is one of those films with a very simple plot.

(Host): How simple is it?

(Narrator): I expected that from you, so I’ll tell you. Florenz Ziegfeld (William Powell) looks down from heaven, and imagines what it would be like to put on just one more of his famous Ziegfeld Follies shows using the talent in Hollywood (especially at MGM).

(Host): Yeah, yeah, what else?

(Narrator): That’s it.

(Host): That’s it?

(Narrator): Yep, and that all takes place within the first ten minutes of the movie. After that, it’s a revue like the earlier reviewed King Of Jazz, with different stars singing, dancing, doing comedy skits, whatever their specific talents were.

(Host): So what’s on the program?

(Narrator): Well, here’s a list of what’s included, and we’ll get into the various segments afterwards:

  • “Here’s To The Girls” sung by Fred Astaire, danced by Cyd Charisse and chorus, Lucille Ball and chorus
  • “Bring On The Wonderful Men” sung by Virginia O’Brien
  • “A Water Ballet” featuring Esther Williams
  • “Number Please” with Keenan Wynn
  • “Traviata” sung by James Melton and Marion Bell
  • “Pay The Two Dollars” with Victor Moore and Edward Arnold
  • “This Heart Of Mine” sung by Fred Astaire, danced by Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer
  • “A Sweepstakes Ticket” with Fanny Brice, Hume Cronyn and William Frawley
  • “Love” with Lena Horn
  • “When Television Comes” with Red Skelton
  • “Limehouse Blues” danced by Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer
  • A Great Lady Has “An Interview” with Judy Garland
  • “The Babbitt and The Bromide” sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly
  • “Beauty” sung by Kathryn Grayson

(Host): And that’s all?

(Narrator): Yep, that’s all. Admittedly, there was more filmed, but that’s all that made it into the movie. But, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

(Host): Ok, so start at the beginning.

(Narrator): (whispering aside to audience) He asked for it! (winks at audience, then turns back to Host, speaking in normal voice) “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the–

(Host): No, no, NO! Not that far! The making of this movie!

(Narrator): Ok, fine. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (1867-1932) was a famous stage producer. On the suggestion of Polish-French singer Anna Held, he started producing the American version of the Parisian Folies Bergère. From 1907 until 1931, he produced a yearly revue of the Ziegfeld Follies, with these shows sporting songs, dances, comedy sketches, and such. They mainly ended when he passed away in 1932. After his death, his widow Billie Burke sold the film rights of his life to Universal Pictures. However, with the rising costs and disagreements between the film’s producer and the studio, Universal ended up selling the rights to MGM. In 1936, MGM released The Great Ziegfeld, to great acclaim, box office, and a Best Picture Oscar win. A few years later, in 1939, studio head Louis B. Mayer planned the idea of a film version of a Ziegfeld Follies show, and gave the project to his new producer, Arthur Freed. However, with Arthur Freed’s new unit only just getting started, it took a while before they could really get into the project. With the success of Ziegfeld Girl in 1941, they really started to focus on the idea. The plan was to try and use some of the various songs, sketches and comedy routines that MGM had been acquiring over the years. At first, George Sidney was assigned to direct the film, but he left after a short while (supposedly, he wasn’t happy with the first month’s worth of shooting) and was replaced by Vincente Minelli (although some of what Sidney filmed was retained for the final product). The movie was originally intended to be released in 1944 to celebrate MGM’s 20th anniversary, but things didn’t work out that way. Filming initially took place between April 10 and August 18, 1944. When the movie was given its sneak preview (with a running time of nearly three hours), audiences didn’t respond as positively as they would have hoped. This resulted in the studio making some changes to the movie, removing many segments and doing some re-takes and additional sequences. Even once finished (as the film is now), they still took their time in releasing it, waiting almost half a year before finally giving it a wide release in 1946.

(Host hands the narrator a small business card)

(Narrator): (reading the card) “And now a word from our sponsor?”

(Pie comes flying in from offstage and hits the Narrator in the face)

(Host): That’s right folks, our sponsor this week is Pie N De Face! If you’re feeling gloomy, and you don’t know what to do (and you’ve got a friend or family member nearby), use Pie N De Face, and you’re sure to bust a gut laughing! Also comes with a portable washing machine (water falls from above the Narrator, drenching him), soap (Narrator is scrubbed with soap, then drenched again), and dryer (a strong gust of wind blows on the Narrator, drying him up and fluffing out his clothing) so that you can use it again in a hurry!

(Narrator): (Angrily walks off-stage, sound of pie hitting him in face again, then sounds of gushing water and wind) (yells) Let’s move on here! Start talking about the movie!

(Host): Alright. Computer, bring in the “This Heart Of Mine” set.

(Computer): Bringing in comedy set.

(Out pops a set with three distinct sections that look like a subway car, a courthouse and a jail cell. There are also two telephone booths and an old CRT television set with what appears to be a bottle of an alcoholic beverage, although nothing inside is visible. A huge pile of sweepstakes tickets drops on the Host, burying him).

(Host): (from underneath the pile of sweepstakes tickets) Ow.

(Narrator): (Walking back onstage) That’s the ticket!

(Audience groans)

(Narrator): Ok, ok, they can’t all be good! Anyways, it may not be what he asked for, but we should mention the comedy sketches. Obviously, opinions will vary for most, but in general, the comedy bits in this movie are among the more controversial aspects of it, as there are those that don’t think they have aged as well as the various musical numbers. There is a degree to which I agree with that. The bit “Pay The Two Dollars” with Victor Moore and Edward Arnold is the worst, as Victor Moore plays a businessman who gets in trouble for spitting on the subway (a minor offense), but, because of the fact that he is unable to pay the fine, combined with the insistence of his lawyer that he fight the charge (even though he just wants to pay the fine), he is sent to jail and then later prison, before being pardoned. In general, this one is just cringeworthy, watching Victor Moore’s character getting in worse and worse scrapes, both financially and with the law, just because his lawyer doesn’t want to lose the case (and charges his client an arm and a leg to do it). Maybe it’s funny once or twice, but eventually this becomes one worth skipping. Computer, drop “Pay The Two Dollars.”

(Computer): Dropping the cheapskate.

(Trapdoor opens up beneath the Host).

(Host): (Falling through the trapdoor with some of the sweepstakes tickets) Aaaaaaaaahhhh!

(Narrator): Moving on, we have the the “Number Please” comedy bit with Keenan Wynn, where he keeps asking the operator for a specific number, but keeps getting the wrong one. This one is decently funny, but, when all is said and done, it’s essentially the “Alexander 2222” (or whatever other name they go with) comedy routine, and, when you’ve seen Lou Costello do that routine, nobody else is as good.

(Phone booth rings)

(Narrator): (Steps in phone booth and picks up phone) Hello? (Muffled voice overheard on phone) Mmm-hmm. (Muffled voice continues) You don’t say. (Muffled voice starts to sound angry). You don’t say! (Muffled voice gets angrier. Narrator cups his hand over the phone and gives the audience a look). I think most of you can predict what I’m about to tell you, so say it with me. (breathes in) “He isn’t saying.” Computer, drop this obscene caller.

(Computer): Dropping the obscene caller.

(Host): (from the other telephone booth, getting quieter as if falling again) Not agaaaaaaaiiiiinnnn!

(Narrator): The next comedy sketch would be “A Sweepstakes Ticket” with Fanny Brice, Hume Cronyn and William Frawley. Fanny Brice was the only featured star in this movie to have actually been one of the big stars from a Ziegfeld Follies show. Different sketches and ideas were thrown around for what to do with her for this movie, but what we got was a sketch in which she plays a housewife that has the winning ticket in an Irish sweepstakes. The problem is her husband, played by Hume Cronyn, has given the ticket to their landlord (William Frawley in what would become a familiar occupation for one of his most famous characters half a decade later) as part of their rent, so they must try to get it back from him. There’s some fun with their attempts to get the ticket back, so it does manage to be slightly more memorable. (speaks loudly) Of course, I’ve got that winning ticket in that pile somewhere…

(Host comes running back onstage and dives into remaining pile of sweepstakes tickets, only to fall through the still open trapdoor)

(Narrator): Knew I forget to take care of something. Computer, close the trapdoor.

(Computer): Closing the trapdoor.

(Trapdoor closes)

(Narrator): Our last comedy sketch is “When Television Comes” with Red Skelton. (Walks over to the television set and takes a swig from the bottle on top) While Red Skelton seems to be one of the more “you love him or you hate him” types, I will admit that I personally like his comedy. I don’t think his comedy bit here is as good as what he did in Lovely To Look At, but it’s still some good fun as he plays an advertiser that gets slowly more drunk on the sponsor’s product while alternating (by the turn of his hat) as a poet with some rather amusing poetry (if you can call it that). Out of all the pure comedy sketches in this movie, this is the one that I enjoy the most. (Takes another swig from the bottle) Ah, that’s good stuff. (To audience) Before you get the wrong idea, I’m drinking the hard stuff. Milk. What? You expected something alcoholic? We wouldn’t let anything of that nature on here! But let’s get back to the movie!

(Host): (weakly from offstage) What about “A Great Lady Has An Interview” with Judy Garland?

(Narrator): Well, that’s kind of a different story. That one is a musical number, which was written by Kay Thompson and Roger Edens for actress Greer Garson, in an attempt to spoof her screen image at the time. When the two writers performed it for Greer Garson and her husband and her mother, they expressed their feelings that it wasn’t for her. Instead, Judy Garland ended up doing it. Personally, while I think that Judy Garland does a good job with it (and I’m glad that she got something in this movie, considering she was another star that had a lot of stuff planned as possibilities that didn’t pan out, and, as big as she was at MGM, she did need to be in this film), I think the humor of the piece falls flat. Maybe I’m saying that coming from a complete lack of knowledge in regards to Greer Garson (having only seen her in the film Blossoms In The Dust which was part of a set of Christmas films I got on DVD a number of years back), but I can’t believe that I’m the only one who has no knowledge of her, which causes this number to age poorly, in my opinion.

(sign drops from above)

(Narrator): (reading the sign) “And now back to our sponsor Pie N De Face?”

(another pie comes flying in from offstage and hits the Narrator in the face).

(Host): (trying to stifle a giggle) If you’re feeling gloomy (starts giggling more intensely), and you don’t know what to do (and you’ve got a friend or family member nearby), use Pie N De Face (busts out in raucous laughter), and you’re… sure to… bust a gut… laughing! (starts rolling on the floor in uncontrollable laughter)

(Narrator): (wiping pie off his face) Oh, very funny. Veeeeerrrry funny. Are you through yet?

(Host still laughing on the floor)

(Narrator): Fine. I’ll finish the ad. (starts speaking fast to get it over with). Also comes with a portable washing machine, soap, and dryer so that you can use it again in a hurry! (In quick fashion, water drops on the Narrator, followed quickly by soap, more water, and then a strong gust of wind fluffs him up again)

(Host): (still on the floor laughing) Had enough?

(Narrator walks offstage muttering angrily to himself)

(Host): (laughter subsides) Ok, let’s try this again. Computer, bring in the “This Heart Of Mine” set.

(Computer): Bringing in “Beauty” set.

(From above, a bunch of soap suds and bubbles drop down, covering the stage and sticking to the Host)

(Host): (spitting out soap bubbles) No, no, no, not that! Computer! Bring in the “This Heart Of Mine” set!

(Computer): Bringing in “Water Ballet” set.

(Host): (dreading what is coming) Oh, no!

(A glass pane comes down covering the front of the stage, with water filling in behind it and washing away all the suds. The Host suddenly finds himself swimming in all the water as the water level continues to rise.)

(Narrator): (walking back onstage in front of the glass pane) Ah, two musical numbers that ended up being far different than what was originally planned. As I’ve hinted at already, a lot of the various stars were being given numerous songs or sketches in the planning stages, some of which managed to be filmed (but were dropped after the initial preview). One of those stars was singer James Melton, who had filmed at least four songs, but only one was retained: the operatic “La Traviata.” Personally, I think that to be one of the weakest (if not THE weakest) segments retained for the movie. I’ve seen it described as being filmed like a song for a TV variety show, which feels quite accurate. Overall, I don’t really like it at all (and only would have been able to tolerate it if it could have been done, for example, by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy instead of James Melton and Marion Bell).

(The water level continues to rise. The Host swims his way over to the glass pane and taps on it.)

(Narrator): What? Oh, right, the two different musical numbers. Well, we have the one segment with Esther Williams doing her underwater ballet. Originally, this segment was done with James Melton singing the song “We Will Meet Again in Honolulu,” but after the initial preview, Melton’s appearance was cut, with only Esther Williams’ swim routine sticking around. It’s nothing compared to some of the spectacles she would do in some of her later films (at least, those that I’ve seen), but it’s entertaining enough.

(With the water level at the top, an agitated Host pounds furiously on the glass pane.)

(Narrator): (looking back) Now what? (sees water level) Oh, right! Computer, pull the plug.

(Computer): Pulling the plug.

(A hole opens up in the center of the stage, draining all the water. As the water goes down the hole, the Host goes down with it.)

(Narrator): (When all the water is gone) Computer, put in the plug.

(Computer): Putting in plug.

(The hole in the center of the stage closes up.)

(Host): (from down below) Why can’t that thing work that well for me?!?!?

(Narrator): (Ignoring the Host’s complaint) Now where were we? Oh, yes. The song “There’s Beauty Everywhere” was also quite different for its original conception. James Melton also originally sang that song, and director Vincente Minelli envisioned having Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer and Cyd Charisse dancing among soap bubbles. However, the bubble machine caused a lot of trouble, with the gas from the bubbles causing the cameraman to faint and otherwise became a constant hazard, not to mention the bubbles themselves getting out of control. As a result, they weren’t able to film it right (with the bubbles generally obscuring parts of Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer’s faces), so most of the idea was abandoned. Some of the footage featuring Cyd Charisse was kept in the film, and James Melton was replaced by Kathryn Grayson with some newly shot footage. Personally, I think it’s not really that memorable of a song, especially as it is, and makes me wish they could have (safely) pulled off their original vision.

(From offstage, the sound of machinery fizzling out can be heard. Then the Host walks onstage)

(Host): Darn it. There goes our sponsor’s machine. All those soap suds and that water shorted it out.

(Narrator): (in a mocking tone). Awww, that’s too bad.

(Host): (imitating the Narrator) “Awww, that’s too bad.” (Normal voice) Oh, you’ll get over it. Getting back to the movie, are you finished with the water ballet and “There’s Beauty Everywhere?”

(Narrator): Yes.

(Host): Anything you want to say about the song “Love” before segueing into discussing the Fred Astaire stuff?

(Narrator): Well, “Love,” as sung by Lena Horne, is a fun piece of music, and she does a wonderful job of singing it. I can’t really say much one way or the other about how it was staged, as that aspect doesn’t really feel that memorable. Still, as I said, the song itself sticks quite well in my memory, and is one of the better songs in the film.

(Host): Ready for Fred Astaire?

(A screen drops down from above)

(Narrator): (ducking behind the screen and popping out on the other side wearing a top hat and a tuxedo with tails, and carrying a cane) Ready!

(Host): Alright. We’ll give this one last shot. Computer, bring in the “Fred Astaire” set. (closes eyes and flinches)

(Computer): Bringing in “Fred Astaire” set.

(Host): (slowly opens one eye and looks around to see a set divided into four sections, with one occupied by a group of ladies all decked out in costumes with big headdresses, another occupied by the Chinatown section of London, another in a park with a statue of a man on a horse, and the other with a barren wintry landscape. Seeing the coast is clear, he unflinches and breathes a sigh of relief) Phew. Finally! (Suddenly, a piano drops on his head, knocking him out)

(Narrator): Hmm. That piano sounded out of tune. Oh, well. (pulls the unconscious Host out from under the piano and drags him offstage) Anyways, back to Fred. Compared to some of the many stars who had multiple segments planned that, for one reason or another didn’t make it into the final film, Fred Astaire managed to get four segments in the movie, besting Cyd Charisse and Lucille Bremer, who were tied at two each (while everybody else had one). Even then, Fred still had at least one segment cut, the song “If Swing Goes, I Go Too” (a song that he himself wrote). While the footage of that song no longer exists, the recording of it does. However, that was not included (for some reason) as an extra on the recent Blu-ray release.

Anyways, to get back to what is actually in the movie, after William Powell’s Ziegfeld introduces the idea behind the movie (in what little exists for a “plot”), he hands things off to Fred Astaire to start things off. Fred introduces everything with a few kind words about Ziegfeld, concluding with a reminder that Ziegfeld was a specialist in glorifying girls before launching into singing the song “Here’s To the Girls.” After singing the song and dancing (very, very briefly) with Cyd Charisse, he leaves the stage, leaving Cyd to dance with some other chorus girls, before we have a merry-go-round with ladies all dressed in pink, leading up to Lucille Ball leading a group of cat-like dancers (with a whip in hand). Of course, after glorifying the ladies, Virginia O’Brien shows up on horseback to “Bring On The Wonderful Men” (although it’s just her onscreen, without any men showing up). Neither song is necessarily that great, but they do help start off the proceedings quite well.

Moving on from there, we have Fred’s third appearance in this film (I know I’m doing this out of order, but we’ll get to his second appearance in a bit), dancing alongside Lucille Bremer for the song “Limehouse Blues.” Now, one thing that should be said here. Fred was worried about his song “If Swing Goes, I Go Too” becoming dated (because of the style of music), which is why that was deleted, but, among his song-and-dance routines that survived, “Limehouse Blues” has fared worse over time, with both him and Lucille Bremer made up to look Asian in appearance. But, if you can get past that, this is a wonderful routine that is out of the ordinary for Fred Astaire. For one thing, it’s a bit more balletic, with him doing some tricks like cartwheels, and, for another, both he and Lucille work with fans throughout the dream sequence. In spite of it’s issues, it’s still a very interesting routine that shows how well he could do with a variety of dance styles.

(Host): (Walking back onstage) Have you gotten to Fred and Gene yet?

(Narrator): No, I was just getting there. Fred’s last appearance in the film is for the song “The Babbitt And The Bromide,” which was originally written by the Gershwins for the Broadway show Funny Face starring Fred and his sister Adele. This time, Fred was paired with up-and-comer Gene Kelly, with the two of them providing the choreography for the different sections of the song. Before starting the song, they both rather amusingly reference each other’s big partners (obviously, for Fred it was Ginger Rogers, but for Gene, it was Rita Hayworth, since Cover Girl was still Gene’s big breakthrough at that point). Whatever the case, it’s still a lot of fun to see the two of them dancing together in their prime, as that was to be the only time they could work anything out (yes, I know they also danced together in That’s Entertainment, Part 2, but that was with them both nearly thirty years older than they were here).

(Host): Ok, that’s all fine and dandy, but what about “This Heart Of Mine?”

(Narrator): Yes, I know you’ve been leading to that one, but that’s why we’ve saved the best for last.

(A moving sidewalk starts up underneath the Host, who starts walking to keep up with it)

(Host): This isn’t too bad. Anyways, “This Heart Of Mine” is, in some respects, a shorter version of the story for the other Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer film, Yolanda And The Thief, with Fred playing a thief out to steal something from Lucille Bremer’s wealthy character.

(The Narrator pulls out a remote and presses a button. The moving sidewalk starts to move faster, forcing the Host to start jogging, then running.)

(Host): (Running out of breath) That’s not so easy! (Angrily points at the Narrator) You were planning this, weren’t y- (Host trips and falls on the moving sidewalk, which is going so fast now that he practically flies offstage. A commotion is heard backstage as he crashes into various objects.)

(Narrator): And off he goes again. Getting back to the “This Heart Of Mine” segment, it’s arguably one of the film’s best moments. We’ve got Fred and Lucille doing a ballroom dance together, with a beautiful piece of music to back them up. I know I like it, and the song itself gives me chills, especially when the chorus sings it near the end. It’s a longer song, clocking in at over ten minutes, but it’s well worth it for me.

Overall, I find this to be a very enjoyable film. As I’ve indicated, it’s a bit uneven, but, let’s be fair. As a revue, it’s going to be hard to keep everything good. Whatever the case, it’s one I’ve seen many times over the years. Most of the music is good, and there’s some fantastic dancing throughout (mostly provided by Fred Astaire, but there are some others doing well here, too). For me, I always like to sit through the whole thing without skipping through anything (in spite of the variation in quality of the segments). If you can get past the essentially nonexistent plot, then it’s a movie worth recommending (and certainly the best movie revue I’ve seen, even if that is a short list)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray features a new transfer that comes from a 4K scan of most of the original camera negative. While some of the original negative is gone, I would say that overall, this transfer is much improved! The detail is much better, and the colors certainly have that three-strip Technicolor look to them! The picture has been cleaned up of dirt and debris. Extras include (besides the three shorts already mentioned) a featurette on the movie and audio-only outtakes of different musical numbers that were originally planned for the movie. I certainly think that this is the best way to enjoy this movie!

(Host comes back onstage carrying a stack of pies on his left hand, and one lone pie on his right, looking like he might throw them)

(Narrator): What are you doing with those?0

(Host): Well, even though the machine is broken, we do still have a sponsor for this post who needs-

(Narrator): (interrupting) Oh, no you don’t! I’ve had enough of Pie N De Face! Now give me those pies!

(Host): Are you sure? (winks at the audience).

(Narrator): Of course I’m sure! Now let me have them!

(Host gives the audience a look. However, that look is long enough for the Narrator to act and push the lone pie into the Host’s face. The Host falls down, and the pies in his other hand go flying. The Narrator starts laughing hysterically, and then all the pies fall down, covering the both of them. They wipe the pie off their faces, look at each other, and burst into uproarious laughter.)

(Narrator): (After finally calming down) Computer, bring the curtain down.

(Computer): Bringing the curtain down.

(The whole curtain falls down from above, landing on the Host and the Narrator).

(Narrator): Well, it seems that the Writer has thrown in almost everything now.

(A kitchen sink falls from above and lands on the Narrator’s head, knocking him out)

(Host): You just had to go there, didn’t you? Well, that’s all folks!

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“Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart (September 2021)” featuring… Kismet (1955)

Next up among the films that I’ve been looking forward to revisiting for the Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon, we’ve got the 1955 musical Kismet starring Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray and Vic Damone!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Battle Of Gettysburg (1955)

(Available as an extra on the Kismet Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 29 minutes, 37 seconds)

The story of the Battle of Gettysburg is told using footage filmed at the Gettysburg National Military Park.  This short is narrated by Leslie Nielsen, with Frank Ferguson reading off Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address at the end.  This is one of those shorts where you will either love it or hate it, as it is filmed without any human actors or reenactors, just narration, some sound effects to help get the idea across, the actual locations and some of the statues of the military men involved.  Without any people onscreen, I personally find it to be very dull, and mainly for education or Civil War enthusiasts.  Of course, watching it on this disc doesn’t help, as it is an unrestored, non-anamorphic transfer that limits the size of the picture, while also not being as detailed as one would prefer.  Overall, I have to give this one a hard pass, as I just didn’t care for it.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The First Bad Man (1955)

(Available as an extra on the Kismet Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection or as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)

This short tells the story of Texas, circa one million B.C., where Dinosaur Dan laid claim to being the first bad man in Texas. In some respects, a precursor to The Flintstones, with the caveman era combined with modern ideas. Granted, this cartoon seems to have two distinct halves, with the first introducing us to the world it’s taking place in, and then the second, mainly preoccupied with Dinosaur Dan (and the posse chasing after him). It works quite well, even if not quite to the level of some of Tex Avery’s earlier cartoons. Still, it’s a fun cartoon, certain to provide many laughs (it certainly did for me)!  Of course, given that the Kismet Blu-ray preceded the Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 collection by several years, the transfer therefore isn’t as restored as the later version, with some specks and dirt still remaining (and the color not quite as vivid).

And Now For The Main Feature…

In the city of Baghdad, the Poet (Howard Keel) and his daughter, Marsinah (Ann Blyth) go about trying to sell his rhymes. They have no luck, so they separate, with Marsinah trying to snatch some food for their empty bellies. The Poet finds himself kidnapped by some men, who bring him to the famous robber, Jawan (Jay C. Flippen). The Poet is mistaken for Hajj the beggar, who some years earlier had put a curse on Jawan, resulting in his young son being kidnapped from him. Sensing an opportunity, the Poet charges Jawan one hundred gold pieces to undo the curse, and promises Jawan that he will find his son that very day. Jawan gives him the money and returns to Baghdad to look for his son, while the Poet makes his way back to the city on foot with his new fortune in hand. Meanwhile, Lalume (Dolores Gray), the wife of Baghdad’s judge, the Wazir (Sebastian Cabot), has just returned from Ababu. The Wazir was seeking a much-needed loan from the ruler of Ababu, and Lalume brought the news that the Wazir would be given all the gold that ten camels can carry. The catch? A royal marriage for the three princesses of Ababu, quite specifically to the Caliph (Vic Damone), which could prove troublesome. Elsewhere, the Poet has returned to the city, and gives Marsinah some money to buy herself some new clothes and such. He does some shopping of his own, but he is arrested when the Wazir’s guards notice that the purse of gold bears the sign of a wealthy family that had been robbed. Meanwhile, the Caliph has been walking around the city incognito, and sees Marsinah. Falling for her, he approaches her (without revealing his identity), and, since they are both interested in each other, they promise to meet later that evening. Now in front of the Wazir, the Poet is accused of being a thief, and sentenced to have one of his hands chopped off. He pleads for his hand to be saved, attracting Lalume’s attention. However, his pleas fall on deaf ears, and the Wazir orders BOTH hands to be chopped off, resulting in the Poet calling down curses on the Wazir. Before anything further happens, Jawan is brought in. Upon seeing the Poet, Jawan immediately starts lashing out at him in anger for deceiving him. He quickly changes his tune, however, when he sees the amulet around the Wazir’s neck. As the Wazir claims to have had it since his youth, Jawan declares that the Wazir is his son. The Wazir has no interest in Jawan (and thus sends him to the dungeon), but he is interested in the Poet’s “powers.” Upon realizing that the Poet had cursed the Wazir, he wonders what will happen. The answer comes quickly, as the Caliph makes a quick visit to announce that he will be getting married that night. Frustrated at the prospect of not getting his loan from the ruler of Ababu, the Wazir listens to Lalume’s advice and restores the Poet’s freedom and gold, and even makes him an Emir in exchange for reversing the curse. Lalume, of course, knows the Poet has no powers, but she is intrigued by him (and complains to him in private how bored she is by her marriage to the Wazir). When they hear the Caliph’s procession as he goes after his bride, the Wazir orders the Poet to do something about it. Under threat of being executed, the Poet starts up a big curse reversal ceremony (with Lalume’s help) as a distraction so that he can escape (which he does). The Poet quickly finds Marsinah and tries to explain the situation to her as they run. When they hear that the Caliph didn’t find his bride-to-be, the Poet reconsiders, and decides to go back to the Wazir’s palace to be an Emir. With Lalume’s help, he sends for Marsinah and invites her to stay there, where she will be safe. While the Caliph has the Wazir’s people searching the city for Marsinah, he visits the Wazir’s home. The Wazir still tries to push the princesses of Ababu as a potential marriage alliance, when they both see Marsinah amongst the Wazir’s harem. Believing her to be one of the Wazir’s wives, the Caliph declares that he will instead choose a bride that night from among those seeking a marriage alliance. When the Caliph leaves, the Wazir marries an unconscious Marsinah (so that the Caliph doesn’t catch him in a lie), although upon waking, she declares that she will kill herself if he tries to take advantage of her. Will Marsinah survive this night? And will the Poet be able to see past his own ambitions for his daughter’s sake?

Edward Knoblock originally wrote the play Kismet, which made its debut in 1911. Over the years, it made its way to movie screens several times, in 1914, 1920, 1930 and 1944. MGM had produced the 1944 film, and afterwards, musical producer Arthur Freed made plans to put together a film musical of the play, but held back on those plans when he heard that a musical version was being readied for Broadway. MGM bought the film rights even before the show opened. Luckily for the studio, it turned out to be a hit. Arthur Freed intended to have the film version directed by Vincente Minelli, but Vincente declined at first, stating that he didn’t care for the show. He only came around when he was promised his pet project, Lust For Life, in exchange for directing Kismet. However, a lot of his focus while making Kismet was spent on preparing for Lust For Life, and Stanley Donen had to finish filming when the production ran over and Vincente Minelli left for Europe for his film. As a result, Kismet wasn’t well-received by audiences, which was enough to end Howard Keel’s career in film musicals, as he returned to the stage after this film.

Due to Vincente Minelli’s indifference to the show, this movie has a common complaint of spectacle being emphasized over the actors, and it does seem that way. I will admit, visually, this film is a marvel to look at (even more so on the Blu-ray release from Warner Archive Collection), with the various sets and colors. The acting is a bit more inconsistent, with Howard Keel and Dolores Gray taking a more tongue-in-cheek/theatrical approach, while a lot of the rest of the cast (especially Ann Blyth and Vic Damone) play it straight. Obviously, it boils down to preferences, but I prefer Howard Keel and Dolores Gray’s performances, as I feel like they fit the material better (and they also look like they are having fun doing it). I also think Monty Woolley, who plays Omar (the Caliph’s advisor) leans more towards the theatrical, but he has so little to do beyond his initial two appearances, interacting with the Poet (in Hajj’s place) and walking through the market with the Caliph. Quite frankly, I consider Monty Woolley’s character being relegated to the background a minor strike against the movie.

Regardless of the performance styles one thing I can say about this movie: the music is absolutely beautiful to listen to! For the stage show, the music was adapted from themes of Alexander Borodin, with new lyrics and music written by Robert Wright and George Forrest. While I don’t think their acting style works as well for the film, I DO think that both Ann Blyth and Vic Damone have wonderful singing voices, particularly for the song “Stranger In Paradise,” which is probably my favorite song from this film. I also like the song “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” which is sung (and quite beautifully, I might add) by Ann Blyth. Howard Keel has some fun with stuff like “Fate” and “Gesticulate,” and Dolores Gray has the really fun “Not Since Nineveh” and the sensual “Bored” (even if the way that the song’s ending is staged comes across as a little stiff and unnatural). I first saw this movie on DVD as part of the Classic Musicals From The Dream Factory: Volume 3 set (and saw it twice then), but after upgrading it to Blu-ray after it was released in 2014, it’s become an almost yearly viewing, I’ve enjoyed it so much! So, if you can get past the disparate styles of acting, there is a good film and a wonderful musical to be found here (and one that I would certainly recommend)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 53 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Deep In My Heart (1954) – Howard Keel

Dolores Gray – The Opposite Sex (1956)

Hit The Deck (1955) – Vic Damone

Since You Went Away (1944) – Monty Woolley

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!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2

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.

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m again focusing on various cartoons from MGM that were directed by Tex Avery. The shorts I’m covering were all a part of the Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2. While the shorts have not been released in chronological order, those in this set were originally released theatrically between 1948 and 1955.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

Tex Avery Screwball Classics

  1. Little Rural Riding Hood (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
    • The city wolf invites his country cousin to the city, but cannot stop him from chasing after girls.
  2. The Cuckoo Clock (1950) (Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)
    • A cat is being driven crazy by a cuckoo bird and tries to get rid of it.
  3. Magical Maestro (1952) (Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • After a magician is thrown out by opera singer Spike (also known as “The Great Poochini”), he gets his revenge by taking the place of the conductor and using his magic wand to wreak havoc on Spike’s performance.
  4. One Cab’s Family (1952) (Length: 7 minutes, 56 seconds)
    • A pair of taxicabs raise their new son (with the hope that he will also be a taxicab), but he wants to be a hot rod.
  5. The Cat That Hated People (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • A black cat expresses his dislike for humans for the way he has been treated, and takes a rocket to the moon.
  6. Doggone Tired (1949) (Length: 7 minutes, 34 seconds)
    • A rabbit tries to keep a hunting dog from getting enough sleep.
  7. The Flea Circus (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • When a stray dog walks in on a circus of fleas, they all leave (except for Francois, the clown), and it’s up to him to bring more fleas back!
  8. Field And Scream (1955) (Length: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • We follow American sportsman Ed Jones as he goes fishing and hunting.
  9. The First Bad Man (1955) (Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)
    • This short tells the story of Texas, circa one million B.C., where Dinosaur Dan laid claim to being the first bad man in Texas.


  1. Out-Foxed (1949) (Length: 8 minutes, 18 seconds)
    • A group of hunting dogs (including Droopy) are promised a steak if they can bring in a fox.
  2. Droopy’s Double Trouble (1951) (Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • Droopy and his twin brother Drippy are tasked with taking care of a house (and keeping out strangers). Of course, Spike the dog (with an Irish accent, no less!) has to join in on the fun (as the “stranger” that they have to keep out).
  3. The Three Little Pups (1953) (Length: 6 minutes, 44 seconds)
    • Three little pups (including Droopy) take on a dogcatcher.
  4. Drag-A-Long Droopy (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 34 seconds)
    • Sheepherder Droopy drives his sheep into cattle territory, and the Wolf (who owns a cattle ranch) tries to stop him.
  5. Homesteader Droopy (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • Droopy and his homesteading family find resistance from Dishonest Dan when they make a home in cattle country.
  6. Dixieland Droopy (1954) (Length: 7 minutes, 44 seconds)
    • Droopy plays Dixieland musician John Pettibone, as he tries to become famous.


  1. The Counterfeit Cat (1949) (Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)
    • A cat tries to pretend to be a dog to get the bird that Spike the dog is guarding.
  2. Ventriloquist Cat (1950) (Length: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)
    • A cat uses ventriloquism to play some pranks on Spike the bulldog.

Cartoons Of Tomorrow

  1. The House Of Tomorrow (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)
    • We are given a tour of the house of tomorrow by the narrator.
  2. Car Of Tomorrow (1951) (Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
    • We are shown the “cars of tomorrow.”
  3. T.V. Of Tomorrow (1953) (Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)
    • We are shown the many innovations of the television of tomorrow.
  4. The Farm Of Tomorrow (1954) (Length: 6 minutes, 32 seconds)
    • We are shown the “farm of tomorrow.”

Well, since the various Tex Avery shorts aren’t being put out on disc in chronological order, there isn’t much more that I can say about Tex himself than what I said when I reviewed Volume 1 of this series. So, I will confine my comments overall to the shorts included in this set. As indicated in the list above, this set contains more one-off shorts, some Droopy, some Spike (the bulldog), and the four Cartoons Of Tomorrow. As before, I consider the Droopy cartoons to be the most fun, since I have fond memories of growing up with them. They’re always guaranteed to give me a good laugh! I think I also remember the Little Rural Riding Hood and Doggone Tired shorts, but most of the rest were new to me through this set. Overall, it’s a fun continuation, with some cartoons just as good (if not better) than those in the first set!

All the shorts included in this set come from 4K scans of the best surviving preservation elements (since, as I mentioned before in my review of the first volume, many of the original negatives for MGM’s pre-1951 cartoons were destroyed in a 1965 vault fire). Compared to the first set, this one didn’t fare as well in overall quality in the transfers. Admittedly, most of the trouble seems to have been caused by the pandemic, which delayed the set (which I have heard was originally planned for a June 2020 release, or thereabouts, instead of the December 2020 release it got) with all the film labs and storage facilities being shut down (and thereby removing access to the film elements), and also resulted in the team that had done the earlier release and the Popeye sets being laid off. Further compounding the issue, they were still stuck with a release deadline which forced them to use some less-than-stellar transfers prepared for HBO Max. A lot more DNR (digital noise reduction) was used than would have normally been the case, resulting in too much grain being removed (and therefore, some of the detail). Now, for the most part, the average Joe (or Jane) probably won’t notice, as everything looks pretty good in motion (it’s just when you stop to pause the picture that things will look worse). Now, this isn’t a problem for ALL the shorts on the set, just a few. The majority are, for the most part, treated much better. There are a few that also had photoshopped titles, and there is a slight audio issue on the start of the short T.V. Of Tomorrow. Still, the set overall is quite nice, and even throws in an hour-long documentary on Tex Avery from 1988 as an extra. It’s only good, compared to the usual GREATNESS that we would expect from Warner Archive transfers, but it’s still better than you might see for other animated libraries.

Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, twenty-nine minutes.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… My Favorite Blonde (1942)

We’ve got yet another Bob Hope comedy! This time, it’s the 1942 film that set out to prove that Bob Hope considered actress Madeleine Carroll “My Favorite Blonde!”

Coming Up Shorts! with… T.V. Of Tomorrow (1953)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)

We are shown the many innovations of the television of tomorrow. Another funny cartoon, even if it is a little dated, as the technology ideas revolve around what TV was like back then. Of course, it throws in a joke about not being able to find much on, as it jokes about westerns being on everywhere (which wasn’t far from the truth not long after this short was created). I had a few good laughs seeing Tex Avery’s usual type of gags as he made fun of television, and certainly look forward to revisiting this one in the future! Only problem with this short is some audio issues at the very beginning of the short (they don’t prevent you from understanding everything, but you can tell there’s something wrong, just the same).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Everything is starting to look good for vaudevillian Larry Haines (Bob Hope). He’s part of an act with his penguin, Percy. Hollywood has come a-calling for Percy, and Larry has a job on that picture as Percy’s trainer. But things start to go awry when he meets Karen Bentley (Madeleine Carroll). She decides to go along with him to Los Angeles, which he doesn’t mind at first. But, then she starts acting a little crazy, which drives him nuts. What he doesn’t know, though, is that she is a British agent who needs to deliver a flight plan for American bombers to somebody in Chicago, but she is being chased by enemy agents. As he gets on a train, she pins the plans (contained in a scorpion medallion) on his coat and leaves, planning to catch up with him later. The enemy agents get on the train with Larry and intimidate him when he is in the club car (although he is able to get away before they can do anything further). After another train stop, Karen catches up with him and continues the trip to Chicago with Larry. When he changes his coat, she steals his luggage (to get the coat that had the scorpion pinned on it) and runs off. She goes to an apartment (with Larry following), where she discovers that an agent she was supposed to meet has been murdered. With Larry trying to take back his suitcase, Karen now has no choice but to tell him the truth. Although he is unwilling to accept it at first, he believes her when, upon trying to leave, a knife is thrown at him (and misses). Karen knows she needs to go on with the scorpion, but is unsure of how to get out of the apartment with the enemy agents lying in wait. Larry quickly gets an idea to stage a wife-beating incident in the hopes that they will get a police escort out of there (which they do). As the police escort them to jail, Larry and Karen decide to make up in a sickeningly sweet manner, which results in the police letting them go. Of course, the enemy wasn’t idle during that time, as they decided to call the police themselves and report the murder of the other agent, blaming Larry for it. With a new manhunt on for the two of them, Larry and Karen must stay on the run as they continue towards L.A. Can they make it in time to get the flight plans delivered, or will the enemy agents win out?

In the early 1940s, comedian Bob Hope had a bit of a crush on actress Madeleine Carroll, which he used to really talk up on his radio show. Figuring the free publicity would help her career, she asked to be on his radio show, and then he took things a step further by asking her to be in My Favorite Blonde. Of course, the film ended up spoofing some of the types of thrillers that Alfred Hitchcock was known for at the time (including the 1935 film The 39 Steps, which Madeleine Carroll had starred in). My Favorite Blonde turned out to be another hit, and one that started yet another series for star Bob Hope, with My Favorite Brunette (1947) and My Favorite Spy (1951) following.

I’ve had the opportunity to see this one many times over the last two decades, and it’s one I enjoy coming back to periodically! Bob is funny, as usual, with his quips providing much of the humor (especially those insulting his Road movies co-star Bing Crosby). And, speaking of Crosby, he makes the first of what would become many cameo appearances in Bob’s films (and causing Bob’s character to do a double-take). Of course, there are other fun moments, too, whether it be any of the times that Madeleine Carroll’s Karen changes her character in front of the enemy agents, all the while making Bob’s Larry think that she’s flipped her lid. Then there’s the moment on the train where the enemy agents just sit there in the club car, intimidating Larry (and all while not doing anything more than staring intensely at him). And, speaking of those agents, they are well-cast, with Gale Sondergaard continuing to show how good she is as a villainess in creeping others out. It’s not a spy movie, at least, not in the way most would think in an era where we have the likes of James Bond, the Bourne franchise, or any number of action films. Still, it’s an entertaining ride, and well worth giving a chance!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, featuring a new 2K master. The transfer looks pretty good, for the most part. There are some shots that don’t look as good (particularly some of the foggy scenes early in the movie), but I suspect a lot of that has to do with the limitations of the source elements used. It’s still a huge improvement over what was previously available, with most of the dirt and debris cleaned up, so I would definitely say it’s the best way to enjoy this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 18 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Nothing But The Truth (1941) – Bob Hope – Road To Morocco (1942)

Road To Zanzibar (1941)Bing CrosbyHoliday Inn (1942)

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Nothing But The Truth (1941)

We’ve got another Bob Hope film today, and that would be his third pairing with actress Paulette Goddard, the 1941 comedy Nothing But The Truth!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Car Of Tomorrow (1951)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)

We are shown the “cars of tomorrow.” This one is fun, as it shows different types of cars. Some car features work (in a literal way), and others backfire. But the gags come fast and furious (and, building off of The House Of Tomorrow, it even throws in one “mother-in-law joke”). There are a few jokes based on stereotypes that haven’t aged well, but it’s only one or two instances. I enjoyed a few good laughs with this one, even if it did just seem to be a series of gags with different types of cars.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Stockbroker T. T. Ralston (Edward Arnold) is in trouble: his niece, Gwen Saunders (Paulette Goddard), is trying to collect $40,000 for charity, and he has promised to give her $20,000 if she can raise the other half. Of course, he doesn’t want to keep that promise, and, behind her back, convinces everybody he knows not to donate. However, she has managed to collect $10,000, and turns to the one person he hasn’t talked to: the newly-hired Steve Bennett (Bob Hope). Gwen asks him to invest the $10,000 in something that will double her money in a quick period of time (without telling her uncle or anybody else where the money came from). Before Steve can do anything, his boss T. T. tries to get him to sell some bad stock. Steve is unwilling to do so, believing that honesty is the best policy. T. T. and his partners, Tom Van Dusen, a.k.a. “Van” (Leif Erickson) (who also happens to be Gwen’s boyfriend) and Dick Donnelly (Glenn Anders) decide to call him on the idea by betting him that he can’t the tell the truth and nothing but the truth for twenty-four hours. Steve takes up the bet, using Gwen’s money, since he figures he can win easily. With nobody allowed to tell about the bet, the three men decide to stay close to Steve to keep him honest (and try to force him to lie). He’s stuck going with them on T. T.’s yacht for the weekend, and, with their constant pestering in an attempt to get him to lie, he manages to insult almost everybody on the boat. To make matters worse, Dick Donnelly (who is married to T. T.’s daughter) also finds himself trying to avoid trouble, when his mistress, actress Linda Graham (Helen Vinson), comes on board, looking for the money that she had been promised would be put into her show. Since Dick had promised her that Steve would pay, she appeals to Steve by trying to tell him about the show (and, in the process, convincing some of the eavesdropping women that the two are an estranged couple). With everybody mad at Steve (including Gwen, whom he had fallen for), will he be able to win the bet, or will he tell a lie to get himself out of trouble (and lose all that money)?

Nothing But Trouble was the third and final pairing of Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard. Like the previous two films, it was based on another property, which first came about as a 1914 novel by Frederic S. Isham before being turned into a 1916 stage play by James Montgomery, and which was then made into a movie twice before (in 1920 and 1929). The basic story, that of somebody betting that they can tell the truth (and only the truth) for a set amount of time has been done many times, both on the big and small screen, so the plot itself is nothing new. What does matter is how well done it is, and I personally think that the cast of this film makes it work quite well here! We still have Bob Hope early in his career, when he did do more as a romantic lead (and did quite well here). Compared to her two previous outings with Bob Hope, actress Paulette Goddard is given a lot more to do as a comedienne, and she shines in that regard, providing just as many laughs as Bob! Edward Arnold, Leif Erickson and Glenn Anders are all fun as the trio trying to trip up Bob (while also keeping their own noses clean), and the rest of the cast is solid, too. While he doesn’t have a lot to do, actor Leon Belasco, who portrays the psychiatrist Dr. Zarak, manages to leave an impression, as he comments on everybody’s actions (mostly by referring to names of famous psychiatric cases he knew of in Europe). The film’s weak spot (for better or for worse) is black actor Willie Best as Hope’s servant, and all the black stereotypes that come with it (although at least he’s not scared all the time like he was in The Ghost Breakers). As I said, this is not a new concept story-wise, but it’s a well-done comedy, and worth seeing!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics, featuring a new 2K master. Personally, I think the movie looks wonderful! The detail is improved over the old masters that were previously available, and the image has been cleaned up of dirt and debris! The only problem I have with this release (and sadly, it’s more of an issue than I wish it was), is that the movie is not uncut. I know there is some footage missing at about the hour mark (that had been present on an earlier DVD from Universal). According to a representative from Kino, the missing footage is not on any of the film elements available at Universal (who owns the movie), and may have been a scene cut in the U.S. (and therefore the footage may have been found for the DVD in elements from another territory). That’s the last I have heard on the subject, and I don’t know if anything further will be done about it. It’s disappointing, as it leaves us with a fairly obvious jump cut that takes away from some of the scene’s humor. Hopefully, that’s something that might still get fixed somewhere down the line, but, if it doesn’t, it certainly makes this release a question of whether you want better picture quality (for which it is recommended), or the entire film (for which I would be a bit more hesitant to recommend it).

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

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!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Caught In The Draft (1941) – Bob Hope – My Favorite Blonde (1942)

The Ghost Breakers (1940) – Paulette Goddard

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) – Edward Arnold – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

The Ghost Breakers (1940) – Bob Hope/ Paulette Goddard (screen team)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Well, I’m a little late (by about a week) in talking about this movie (considering one of the film’s stars was featured last month), but let’s get into it anyways! I’m talking, of course, about the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The House Of Tomorrow (1949)

(Available as an extra on the Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection or as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 Blu-ray or DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)

We are given a tour of the house of tomorrow by the narrator. A very fun cartoon, as we see what types of contraptions that Tex Avery visualized for the future. Of course, there’s a running gag about the unwelcome “mothers-in-law” (which may be overdone just a little). Some aspects are dated, in between how it treats housewives, plus the image of the bikini-clad girl (possibly looks like Virginia Mayo, but I’m not 100% sure) for the “tired businessmen.” Apart from those issues, it looks like a lot of fun (just don’t start asking questions, or you’ll have a toilet plunger thrown at you)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Advertising executive Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) lives in an increasingly cramped apartment in New York City with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and their daughters Joan (Sharyn Moffett) and Betsy (Connie Marshall). One morning, their lawyer and friend Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) comes over to talk with Muriel about remodeling the apartment, but when Jim hears the $7000 price tag, he rejects the idea completely. At work, he is given a new advertising account that one of his colleagues had failed to satisfy. While looking over some of his colleague’s previous ideas, he sees an ad for a home in Connecticut, and decides to look into it. He and Muriel become enamored with the place, but the real estate salesman, sensing a golden opportunity, misrepresents the place (and sells it to them for more than it’s worth). Bill quickly figures out they paid too much for less than they were told, but, they want the house more than anything, so Jim decides not to push against the idea. They turn to a few experts to see what improvements can be made to the house, but every one of them suggests tearing it down and starting fresh. So, that’s what they do (although they get in trouble with the owner of the mortgage for not asking him first). Further troubles arise as they try to get the house designed like they want but within a decent budget. And then, of course, there’s all the difficulties (and rising costs) that come about as they try to build it. Plus, they’re evicted from their apartment before the house is complete. With all these problems (and an advertising campaign that Jim is struggling to put together while he focuses on the house), will he be able to stay sane, or will they lose everything?

Eric Hodgins, at one time a vice president of Time, Inc., originally tried to build his dream house (in 1939), but the costs skyrocketed from the estimated $11,000 up to $56,000 at completion. After two years, he was bankrupt and forced to sell his home. But he wrote an article on his experiences entitled “Mr. Blandings Builds His Castle” for Fortune magazine in 1946. This article was turned into a novel that same year, and it was quickly picked up for a movie by David O. Selznik. With the funds from the movie rights, Eric Hodgins tried (and failed) to buy back his house. But, back to the movie, David O. Selznik planned to use it to pair up Cary Grant and Myrna Loy (who had worked together previously in two movies), hoping to make them the next (Spencer) Tracy and (Katharine) Hepburn. That didn’t happen (as this was the last film that Cary Grant and Myrna Loy made together), but it was pretty well received by audiences and critics.

While I’d heard of this film before, I can’t say as I’ve ever really had the chance to see it. But, it’s a comedy, it stars Cary Grant, and it also stars Myrna Loy! That was enough of a combination for me to want to see it (especially when the Blu-ray was announced, but more on that in a moment)! Having finally seen it, the movie turned out to be even better than I would have imagined (and I imagined it would be good)! The story overall is fun, and the comedy certainly makes it better! I admit, I get a few Green Acres vibes here (you know, the 1960s sitcom), in between the dishonest real estate salesman, the broken down house, and even the doorknob on the closet! Plain and simple, this one was a good time, and one I look forward to revisiting periodically! So, if you get the chance to try it, do it! You won’t regret it (just make sure somebody is there to get you out of the closet)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray features a new transfer from a 4k scan of the original nitrate camera negative. As I said, this was my first time seeing it, but I would say this new Blu-ray is a typical Warner Archive release. In other words, it’s a WONDERFUL transfer, with great detail and clarity! The picture has been cleaned up of all dust and dirt and other debris. Throw in two radio productions of the story, both of which feature Cary Grant (with one featuring Irene Dunne and the other featuring Cary Grant’s then-wife Betsy Drake), and I’m sold on this release! So, if you want to see this movie looking its best, this is the way to do it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Notorious (1946)Cary GrantRoom For One More (1952)

Song Of The Thin Man (1947) – Myrna Loy

Ninotchka (1939) – Melvyn Douglas

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!

“Star Of The Month (May 2021)” Featuring Cary Grant in… Father Goose (1964)

We’re back for one last go-round with Cary Grant to end our celebration of him as the Star Of The Month! Today’s movie is the 1964 film Father Goose, also starring Leslie Caron!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Ventriloquist Cat (1950)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)

A cat uses ventriloquism to play some pranks on Spike the bulldog. It’s a fun cartoon, with many Tex Avery-style gags. Admittedly, the cat is a little over-reliant on using sticks of dynamite, and the ventriloquism kind of disappears for a moment or so. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as that can only work just so many times before it loses its humor (and it doesn’t). It was worth a few good laughs, and is worth recommending!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Early on in the second World War, Salamua is being evacuated by the Royal Australian Navy. Walter Eckland (Cary Grant) tries to take advantage, and “borrows” some supplies. However, he is pushed by his “friend” Commander Frank Houghton (Trevor Howard) into working as a coast watcher on the deserted island of Matalava. To make sure that Walter stays there and does his job, Frank has his ship “accidentally” create a hole in Walter’s boat. He also has his men hide bottles of liquor throughout the island, promising to reveal the locations of the bottles if Walter reports in on any Japanese aircraft (with the reports confirmed elsewhere). Soon, Frank finds that another coast watcher on the nearby Bundy Island is being surrounded by the Japanese, and, unable to send any military craft to get him off that island, asks Walter to go after him in his dinghy so that the other watcher could replace him. In exchange for the location of all the hidden booze, Walter accepts. So, off he goes. On the island of Bundy, he discovers that the other watcher had already been killed by Japanese planes, and had been buried by a stranded schoolteacher, Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron). She is stuck there with seven younger girls, and so Walter has no choice but to bring them back to Matalava. Wanting to be left alone, Walter tries to convince Frank to get Catherine and the girls off his island, but Frank can’t get anybody there to do so for some time. So, Walter is forced out of the shack he was living in, and continues to clash with Catherine. However, with time, they do start to get along. When she thinks she is bitten by a snake (which was actually just a stick with thorns), Walter tries to make her comfortable by letting her drink some of his booze, and in the process, they get to know each other better. Once they realize she is okay, they decide to get married, and get Frank to have a chaplain marry them over the radio. However, during the ceremony, a Japanese plane spots them, and tries to shoot them. Now in need of getting everybody out of there, Frank sends a submarine to get them all off the island. But with a Japanese patrol boat arriving first, can they all get out of there alive?

In choosing to do Father Goose, Cary Grant opted to take on a role that was different from his usual screen persona (with some speculating that it was an attempt to win that ever elusive Best Actor Oscar). While he didn’t win (and wasn’t even nominated), Frank Tarloff and Peter Stone won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and, for his acceptance speech, Peter Stone famously said “I want to thank Cary Grant, who keeps winning these things for other people.” The role was indeed different than usual for Cary Grant, as he was dressing a lot more casually (wearing jeans and sporting something of a beard) and was a selfish drunk, bent only on self-preservation without worry about others. Still, Cary made good use of his comedic abilities, as his character gets stuck “volunteering” for the job of coast watcher.

I’m coming off my first time seeing this movie, and it was wonderful! It was a lot of fun watching Cary Grant do something different (while still being funny). The whole opening, as we get him established on the island (with all the things his “friend” Frank does to get him to the island and actually get him to do the job) was pure joy, and got the movie off on the right foot! And while Leslie Caron may not have been the original pick for Cary Grant’s co-star (supposedly, he wanted to work with his Charade co-star Audrey Hepburn), she still does quite well as the schoolteacher (and is rather amusing when she gets drunk when they worry she might be dying from a snakebite). Of course, the movie isn’t pure comedy, as we also deal with the tension resulting from the Japanese coming around, especially near the end when they discover the island is inhabited. It may have been Cary Grant’s second to last movie, but, for my money, this was a wonderful discovery (for me), and one I would heartily recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.

And with that, we end our celebration of Cary Grant as the Star Of The Month! Come back in a few days, as we start our celebration of actress Claudette Colbert for the month of June!

Film Length: 1 hour, 57 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Charade (1963)Cary Grant

An American In Paris (1951) – Leslie Caron

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!

“Star Of The Month (May 2021)” Featuring Cary Grant in… Operation Petticoat (1959)

We’re back for another Cary Grant movie as we continue the celebration of him as the Star Of The Month! This time, it’s his 1959 comedy Operation Petticoat, also starring Tony Curtis.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Counterfeit Cat (1949)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

A cat tries to pretend to be a dog to get the bird that Spike the dog is guarding. A bit of a fun cartoon, although the whole “cat trying to get a bird that is guarded by a dog” concept is certainly nothing new, especially with all the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons from Warner Brothers. Still, there is some fun to be had (especially with all the bones that the cat keeps offering Spike), and I certainly didn’t expect the ending. All in all, not one of Tex Avery’s best, but certainly enough fun to recommend it just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

On December 10, 1941, the submarine USS Sea Tiger, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Matt Sherman (Cary Grant), is sunk by a Japanese air raid while docked in the Philippines. Captain J. B. Henderson (Robert F. Simon) wants to have the sub destroyed since he fears the Japanese will overrun the port, but Matt manages to convince him that his crew can get the ship repaired in two weeks. He’s stuck working with a smaller crew, since Henderson had transferred some of his men to other boats, but he is promised some replacements. One of them turns out to be the social-climbing Lieutenant Junior Grade Nick Holden (Tony Curtis). At first, Nick doesn’t seem to be worth anything, but then he sees how much trouble that Matt and his crew are having in trying to get supplies and parts from the Navy. With Nick promising to help get what they need, Matt makes him the supply officer. Soon, everybody has almost everything they need as a result of Nick’s “scavenging.” They are forced to try leaving before they are finished when their position is discovered by some Japanese planes. They find that they can submerge, but they soon discover a leak that forces them to stop at the island of Marinduque. While Matt’s crew works on repairs, Nick is sent to the island, where he discovers a group of five nurses that had been stranded there, and he offers them transportation off the island. Matt is less than thrilled, but he finds himself with little choice. Trouble arises from this situation, with the clumsy Second Lieutenant Dolores Crandall (Joan O’Brien) causing trouble for Matt, the engaged Nick trying to flirt with Second Lieutenant Barbara Duran (Dina Merrill), and Major Edna Heywood (Virginia Gregg) causing trouble in the engine room for Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate Sam Tostin (Arthur O’Connell). Will Matt be able to finish repairing his sub and get back in the war, or will everything fall apart?

While Operation Petticoat was an original story, it borrowed from several actual events from World War II, including the issues with the crew getting toilet paper (which, in light of the pandemic, seems a little too familiar an idea to modern audiences), another submarine (the USS Sea Dragon) with a red coat of paint that made it a prime target for the Japanese, and a few other things. The movie was an early directorial effort from Blake Edwards (before he really hit it big with the likes of Breakfast At Tiffany’s and the Pink Panther films), originally intended as a modest black-and-white film. However, when Cary Grant and his production company got involved, the budget rose, and the movie was filmed in color. In some respects, it was co-star Tony Curtis’ idea to have the two of them work together in a submarine film, as he remembered being influenced by Cary Grant’s performance in Destination Tokyo. For his part in producing the movie, Cary Grant was rewarded a high percentage of the profits, nearly $3 million (more than he had made on any movie before).

Operation Petticoat is a movie that I’ve seen a few times at this point, and it’s one that is among my favorite Cary Grant movies! The story is more or less told from the viewpoint of his character (especially considering it’s being told via flashback, as he reads from a journal he kept from his days as the commander of the sub). Cary Grant manages to be funny by himself, but a good fraction of the humor in the film is derived from his reactions to a lot of the stuff going on around him (particularly both the actions of Tony Curtis’ Nick and the presence of the women onboard)! Of course, one of the moments involving Cary Grant’s character that stuck with me the most in this movie is when they spotted a Japanese tanker and tried to sink it with a torpedo. At the last moment, the clumsy nurse Crandall accidentally fires the torpedo, and, instead of hitting the tanker in the water, it goes on land to hit a truck! HIs reaction right there makes this one of the most hilarious moments in the movie for me!

Of course, the rest of the movie is filled with good fun, too! As Nick Holden, Tony Curtis adds to the fun. At first, we would think he is only a society-climber, incapable of being useful (an assumption shared by some of the other characters). But, when he gets to scavenging, all hilarity breaks loose, as we see not only his methods of scavenging, but also how he is able to avoid being caught! Of course, one of the more memorable moments of scavenging is when he works with yeoman Ernest Hunkle (as played by Gavin McLeod) to steal a pig (particularly with his “oinking” lesson). Quite frankly, the whole situation with the pig (given the name Seaman Hornsby to get by a couple of military police) is also quite memorable. Plain and simple, this is a wonderful comedy (and probably my favorite submarine movie), and I would certainly give it some of my highest recommendations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.

Film Length: 2 hours, 1 minute

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

An Affair To Remember (1957)Cary GrantCharade (1963)

Kings Go Forth (1958) – Tony Curtis – Paris When It Sizzles (1964)

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!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2021): Rita Hayworth in… The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

Well, the 17th has rolled around again, and that means that it’s time for another Rita Hayworth film! Today’s film is the 1948 classic The Lady From Shanghai, which also stars Orson Welles. So let’s start things off with another theatrical short!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Dixieland Droopy (1954)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 44 seconds)

Droopy plays Dixieland musician John Pettibone, as he tries to become famous. This is probably one of the weaker Droopy cartoons, with the main gags being how he gets thrown out of places for playing his record, and then is on the run after “stealing” some Dixieland musician fleas. Do I enjoy it? Yes! I’ll gladly stick it on to watch it! But I can’t deny that I’ve seen better from both Droopy and Tex Avery.

And Now For The Main Feature…

While walking through Central Park one night, sailor Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles) comes across Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth) being mugged, and helps her get away. He learns that she is married to famous criminal lawyer Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane), who later offers Michael a job on his yacht (which he very reluctantly accepts). While they are sailing around the country, Michael falls for Elsa, but they find themselves watched, both by Arthur’s partner, George Grisby (Glenn Anders), and Sidney Broome (Ted De Corsia), a detective Arthur uses for some of his divorce cases. Eventually, Grisby makes Michael an offer: for $5000, he wants Michael to “murder” him (so that he can disappear and live a life in obscurity). Once the yacht arrives in San Francisco, Michael decides to go with the idea, hoping to use the money to help Elsa get away from her husband. What he doesn’t count on is Grisby’s treachery (as he plans to kill Arthur and blame Michael), which Broome finds out about. Broome tries to blackmail Grisby, but gets shot for his efforts. Before he dies, Broome tries to warn Elsa and then Michael about Grisby’s treachery, but it’s Grisby himself that gets killed. Michael is arrested (because of all the previous set-up, which included a signed confession), and has no choice but to have Arthur represent him. Will Michael get out of this mess, or will he go to the gas chamber for murder?

The Lady From Shanghai came about mostly due to Orson Welles’ fall from grace. With Citizen Kane‘s failure, The Magnificent Ambersons famously being cut and redone by the studio, and another film that he had planned to shoot in South America never being completed, Orson Welles was no longer looking like the genius he was originally thought to be. He had gone back to the stage, to put together a musical for Around The World In 80 Days, but had run out of money to get the costumes right before the premiere. Without anywhere else to turn, he called Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures (and his wife Rita Hayworth’s boss), to ask him for the money. In return, he promised to direct a movie for him essentially for free (and Harry Cohn accepted). Some sources say that the film was chosen because the original story, If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King, was on a display of paperbacks next to where Orson Welles was when he made the call, and some say that it was a story that Columbia had already purchased the rights for, but whatever the case, it’s what Orson Welles ended up doing. Rita Hayworth was cast at Harry Cohn’s insistence (instead of some of the other actresses that Orson was considering), although Harry Cohn later made a fuss about her changing her image (which he had been carefully crafting for his star for years) by cutting her hair and dying it blonde for the film. At the time, The Lady From Shanghai still didn’t do well at the box office, and was considered one of Orson Welles’ biggest failures, but, like some of his other films, its reputation has improved with time.

This is a movie that I had heard of, but it’s taken me several years to actually get around to seeing. And I will admit to having enjoyed it! Like I said back when I reviewed Tomorrow Is Forever, after watching Citizen Kane, I was generally less than interested in any of Orson Welles’ films. Following up that film (Tomorrow Is Forever), I find my opinion improving, as I was impressed with his performance in this movie as well. I certainly feel for his character, trying to do good, but getting sucked into all the mess of the people he’s trying to help (and getting into trouble because of it). It’s definitely a different role for Rita Hayworth, one that seems to fit in somewhat with her role in the classic Gilda. Overall, I do think all the performances worked well, as everybody kept me guessing what was going on, and who was going to be the big culprit. I admit, the story could be confusing at times, in such a way that multiple viewings would certainly be preferred to fully understand what was going on. But, in this film’s favor, I find myself WANTING to watch it again (admittedly, it’ll probably be a while, but at least it’s not one that completely alienated me on the first viewing). So, I would definitely say there is a movie here worth seeing!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment, either individually or as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection. This is another transfer that seems typical of Sony (the company that owns this movie). In other words, it’s quite good! The detail is superb, and it shows off some of the cinematography very well, especially in the aquarium and the scene in the funhouse with all the mirrors! Certainly one of the best ways to see this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Down To Earth (1947) – Rita Hayworth – The Loves Of Carmen (1948)

Tomorrow Is Forever (1946) – Orson Welles

Down To Earth (1947)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate CollectionThe Loves Of Carmen (1948)

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!

“Star Of The Month (May 2021)” Featuring Cary Grant in… Wedding Present (1936)

As we continue on with Cary Grant as the featured Star Of The Month, we come to another film from 1936, the comedy Wedding Present, also starring Joan Bennett! But first, we’ve got a theatrical short!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Homesteader Droopy (1954)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 31 seconds)

Droopy and his homesteading family find resistance from Dishonest Dan when they make a home in cattle country. A fun companion cartoon to Drag-A-Long-Droopy, as another wolf takes on Droopy. Of course, we have the recurring gag of his child wanting milk, and the different ways it’s given to him. As usual, Droopy beats the Wolf for most of the cartoon (which, considering the chemistry, always works). After all, “it’s the laaaaaw of the West” (and always fun to see)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Chicago newspaper reporters Monica “Rusty” Fleming (Joan Bennett) and Charlie Mason (Cary Grant) are about to get married, but his pranks result in them being unable to get the license before closing time. Their newspaper editor, Pete Stagg (George Bancroft), is frustrated with all their practical jokes, and sends them to get an interview from Archduke Gustav Ernest (Gene Lockhart). Not only do they manage to get an exclusive interview from the archduke, but Charlie rescues New York gangster “Smiles” Benson (William Demarest) (who promises to pay off for the rescue), and both Charlie and Rusty help rescue a ship lost in a storm. They are both given medals for their work, and Rusty gets to enjoy a month’s vacation in New York. While she’s away, Pete Stagg resigns as editor, and, instead of being fired completely, Charlie becomes the editor. In the process, he becomes a hard worker, and doesn’t let anybody else get away with the type of things he had previously done. When Rusty comes back, she tries to bring him back to his senses, only for him to fire her. As a result, she decides to return to New York City. At the airport, she meets author Roger Dodacker (Conrad Nagel), and they start going out together. Without Rusty at the newspaper, Charlie comes to his senses, resigns, and goes after her. In New York, he is met by “Smiles” Benson, who tries to help bring the two back together to return the favor for saving his life (but without success). Will Charlie and Rusty be together again, or will she stick with the boring author?

Wedding Present is based on the short story (of the same name) by Paul Gallico that originally ran in The Saturday Evening Post in September 1935. The movie is toward the end of Cary Grant’s contract with Paramount. As such, we can see that he has essentially gotten his screen persona together. He’s quite suave, and yet, he can be a bit of a screwball, too. I’ve seen a number of comparisons to his better known classic His Girl Friday (made a few years later), and it is a fitting one. Once again, he’s a character willing to get involved in the news story (and help create one), as we see him become friendly with the Archduke, and push a pilot to go help a lost ship (and give the pilot credit for being a hero, even though he and his partner had knocked out the pilot to keep the search going).

Now, I will definitely grant (pun intended) that Wedding Present is certainly no match for the far better His Girl Friday, but it is fun on its own terms. I certainly enjoyed some of the various practical jokes that Cary Grant’s Charlie and Joan Bennett’s Rusty played in the course of getting their stories at the beginning of the movie. Not to mention the stuff they pulled on their bosses (both the editor and the owner of the paper). Everything that Charlie tried to do to win back Rusty upon his arrival in New York was certainly enjoyable as well. But I probably got the most solid laughs out of the stuff that occurred at the film’s finale (I wish I could say what, but to do so would be to spoil it, so I won’t go there). All in all, this was a very fun screwball comedy. I think most (if not all) of the later screwball comedies that Cary Grant did were better, but this one was still worth seeing! So, I would indeed recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Wedding Present (1936)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the three film Cary Grant Collection from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. Like Big Brown Eyes in the set, the opening credits start out looking rough, with a lot of dirt and debris, but, once things get going, everything settles down. Of the three films in the set, this one looks the best, and it’s certainly worth seeing this way.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Cary Grant Collection

The Cary Grant Collection includes the movies Ladies Should Listen, Big Brown Eyes and Wedding Present. All three films have HD scans, with some variation in quality. None have been completely cleaned up, but that shouldn’t stop anybody from looking into this set. I think this set is worth it. I will admit, none of these are “Cary Grant with his screen persona” good, but they all manage to be fun, especially seeing him try to develop that persona, with some good co-stars. Again, this set is recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Big Brown Eyes (1936)Cary GrantThe Awful Truth (1937)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Joan Bennett – Father Of The Bride (1950)

Star Of Midnight (1935) – Gene Lockhart – A Christmas Carol (1938)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Cary Grant Collection

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!