Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nugget Reviews - 22

Follow the Boys! ( 1963 )  Elct. 

Three women follow their Navy husbands and boyfriends to their next port of call in the French Riveria where romantic entanglements ensue. Connie Francis, Janis Paige, Dany Robin, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Long. MGM Pictures. Directed by Richard Thorpe.

After the success of Where the Boys Are ( 1961 ), Connie Francis was re-teamed with Paula Prentiss in this Navy-themed escapade in France and Italy. It was a good story idea, but unfortunately, the script was a dud and the film dragged more than a 3-ton anchor. Two redeeming features : the opening title theme song and the beautiful location footage. 


The Courtship of Andy Hardy ( 1942 ) 14k

Andy Hardy nearly finds himself in court after accidentally "stealing" an automobile. He also has to help his father, Judge Hardy, with a case involving his drippy schoolmate Melodie Nesbit. Mickey Rooney, Donna Reed, Lewis Stone,Cecilia Parker. MGM Pictures. Directed by George B. Seitz.

Andy Hardy never intends to get himself into a jam, but he always ends up in a bigger tangle than he can unwind. In this particular installment of the Andy Hardy series, it is Judge Hardy who shoulders some of the blame. As sister Marian, Cecilia Parker gets a side story of her own involving her changed attitude towards small-town life. Like all the Andy Hardy films, sprinkles of old-fashioned wisdom are interspersed between the comedy and drama. 


The Glass Slipper ( 1955 ) Elct.

The rebellious "Ella" falls in love with a cook's son, not realizing that he is actually the Duke's son....her very own Prince Charming. Leslie Caron, Michael Wilding, Elsa Lanchester, Keenan Wynn, Amanda Blake. MGM Pictures. Directed by Charles Walters. 

This was another case of MGM thinking they could replicate a success ( 1953's Lili ) by following it up with a similarly themed film. Helen Deutsch, who had written the screenplay to Lili, penned this rather silly re-telling of the Cinderella fairy tale. The elements that made the original fairy tale so endearing were removed. Cinderella is no longer a sweet-natured woman who bears her toilsome life with patience. Instead, she is "Ella", a tomboyish waif who sulks around wishing she were dead. No doubt Deutsch intended to add a touch of 1950s realism ( and teenage rebel behavior ) to the character, but in doing so she made the romance that springs between her and Prince Charming completely unbelievable. 


Journey for Margaret ( 1942 ) 18k

After a foreign war correspondent's wife loses her baby during a Blitz, he decides to adopt two children to bring home with him to the States to raise as their own. Robert Young, Laraine Day, Fay Bainter, Margaret O'Brien, William Severn. MGM Pictures. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke.

Margaret O'Brien was such a talented child, having more acting chops than many adult actors. Her range of emotions in Journey for Margaret is especially impressive. William Severn and Margaret O'Brien both portray orphaned children raised during the Blitz. Naturally, they develop social problems as well as nightmarish fears after living through the horrors of the war...but once they meet the kindly Mr. Davis ( Robert Young ) they begin to have hope that they will have a father - and a new family again. Like Mrs. Miniver, Journey for Margaret doesn't whitewash the brutality of war but gives audiences a heart-tugging ( and tear-inducing ) slice of realism. This was legendary director Major W.S. Van Dyke's final film. 


Callaway Went Thataway ( 1952 ) 14k

An advertising agency recycles old "Smoky Callaway" westerns for broadcast on television. When the movies become a smash hit with kids across America, they find a lookalike cowboy to take the place of the old Smoky Callaway.....since in reality, Callaway is a drinking womanizer! Howard Keel, Dorothy McGuire, Fred MacMurray, Jesse White. MGM Pictures. Directed by Norman Panama.

In Callaway Went Thataway, Keel tackles two parts, playing the wild drinking Smoky Callaway as well as Stretch Barnes, his honest good-hearted lookalike. Howard Keel looked and acted like a real-life cowboy, and whenever he made films that cast him as one, it suited him to a tee. However, in this film, all his usual cowboy-ish Texan behavior is gone. Keel is wasted in a role that doesn't suit his personality nor showcase his magnificent voice. Dorothy McGuire is also cast against type as a tough-talking city gal ( Diana Lynn could have done wonders with this part! ), leaving only Fred MacMurray to provide us with a meaty role....and, unfortunately, he is cast as a money-hungry publicity agent, so he is not very lovable either. There are some great cameos mid-way through the film, however! 

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