Two Weeks With Love – 1950

Sometimes a girl’s life is split into two parts…BC and AC.  The “C” stands for “corset” and in this movie it is the pivotal item that takes a person from girl to woman:

Two Weeks with Love – starring Jane Powell and Ricardo Montalban

This 1950 MGM frolic is probably my favorite Jane Powell movie…and that is a hard choice for me to make.  Jane plays Patti Robinson, a young woman ready to take the leap to adulthood, but her loving-yet-traditional parents are holding her back.  Her family is set to take their annual vacation to “Kissimee in the Catskills”, a storybook family resort.  Patti, who normally loves taking this trip, is desolate at the thought of seeing her slightly more mature friends (who will surely be wearing corsets by now).

Patti’s mother refuses to let her lengthen her skirts and tighten her waist…so she is doomed to spend another summer in her baggy girlish frocks.  Not helping the situation is her precocious and very outspoken sister, Melba (played by a very young Debbie Reynolds, in a role that shows exactly why she became a star).  As if Patti wasn’t distraught enough, in walks Demi Armendez (Montalban), impossibly handsome and successful and the apple of every female eye.  Patti immediately develops a huge crush on Demi, and also immediately begins to embarrass herself every time she encounters him.

Patti is soon in competition for Demi’s attention with her much more sophisticated friend, Valerie (Phyllis Kirk).  If only Patti could get herself a corset, she could definitely win Demi’s affection, right?  That’s one of the many questions answered in this movie, and along the way there are several wonderful songs and laugh-out-loud predicaments.  This movie, for me, ranks among the likes of Meet Me in St. Louis and In The Good Ole Summertime.  It’s bright and fun and definitely worth your time.

Scenes to watch for:  Patti’s Dad shopping at the apothecary; and Patti’s daydream on the lake

It Started With Eve – 1941

 

Romantic comedies follow a formula that’s almost as predictable as the sunrise.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, [insert zany chain of events here], boy and girl push hate aside and fall in love.  Some movies do it well, some do it…not so well…and some become those we should measure all romantic comedies by…

It Started With Eve - Starring Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton, and Robert Cummings

This 1941 Universal charmer is everything a romantic comedy should be.  The lead characters are quick and clever.  The dialogue is funny and holds up in this modern age.  The romance is sweet but not too sticky.  Add all of those elements together, and throw in a sprinkling of Deanna Durbin’s beautiful singing voice, and you have a must-see movie.

Anne Terry (Durbin) is a hat check girl who moves to the big city with still-unrealized dreams of being a singer.  Down on her luck and flat broke, she decides she must leave the city and move back home.  Jonathan “Johnny” Reynolds Jr. (Cummings) is the wealthy son of an even wealthier man, Jonathan Reynolds Sr.  (Laughton) who is on is death bed.  It is Sr.’s dying wish to meet the girl Jr. is set to marry.  Unable to find his fiancee, he pays Anne to pose as his blushing bride.

Not-so-surprisingly, Sr. makes a miraculous recovery and hijinks ensues as Jr. must continue to pawn off Anne as his bride-to-be, in an effort to prevent his still-recovering father from becoming upset and falling ill again.

I cannot say enough about this film.  Each and every character, from the butler to the undertaker, is hilarious and perfectly cast.  Deanna Durbin is absolutely charming, and it is easy to understand why she was the highest paid star in her day.

This is the way romantic comedy should be done.

 

*Scene to watch for:  Any scene where Jr. is trying to deal with his actual fiancee.

 

 

Home From The Hill – 1960

If a movie’s weight were measured by angst alone, this film would be a two-ton titan.  There is marital angst, mistress angst, illegimate-unacknowledged-son angst, unwed mother angst, and I-killed-my-father’s-killer angst (totally the heaviest angst of all).  If angst is your thing, then you will love:

Home from the Hill – starring Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker and George Peppard.

This 1960 MGM film takes us on a trek through the trials and tribulations of the Hunnicutt family.  There is the womanizing patriarch, Captain Wade Hunnicutt (great name, played by Mitchum); His embittered and beautiful wife, Hannah Hunnicutt (Parker); strangely-naive-for-his-age son, Theron (played by George Hamilton); and Wade’s illegitimate son, whom he also employs as a farmhand, Rafe Copley (George Peppard in his dreamiest role as far as I am concerned…take that Breakfast at Tiffany’s).

Very unhappily married, Wade and Hannah punish each other by pulling Theron in different directions and filling him with untruths.  Fearing he will end up like his dysfunctional parents, Theron is unable and unwilling to marry the girl he loves.  Theron leaves his lovely girlfriend, Libby, even though she is carrying his child.  Libby is distraught and desperate for a man…any man…to make her an honest woman.

Rafe steps in and saves the day with a charming drawl and a promise of devotion to her and the baby.  You’d think a happy ending could be inserted here, but that would go against everything the angst has been building towards.  In the tradition of all exhausting tales, there are some grave misunderstandings, a few murders, and a bittersweet ending.

I have watched this movie a few times over the years and I cannot decide if I it’s the story that I like, or the way George Peppard tilts his cowboy hat on the back of his head.  It’s a toss-up at this point.  Either way, this film is definitely worth viewing, if only to make you feel like your life isn’t nearly as complicated as the Hunnicutt’s.

Too Young To Kiss – 1951

Sometimes a movie’s premise blurs the line between “Ewww” and “Awww”…this movie somehow manages to walk that line without crossing into a really weird space:

Too Young to Kiss – starring Van Johnson and June Allyson.

This 1951 MGM film probably couldn’t be made today, but in 1951 it worked (I think).  Van Johnson stars as Eric Wainwright, a talent agent who is constantly confronted by wanna-be concert instrumentalists.  One such artist is Cynthia Potter (Allyson), a phenomenal pianist who cannot catch a break.

Hearing that Wainwright is on the lookout for child musicians, Cynthia poses as a 14 year-old and pretends to be her own sister.  Thinking he has found a child prodigy, Wainwright quickly tries to move Cynthia into the spotlight.  Along the way Cynthia’s childish, yet too-adult, behavior perplexes Wainwright and…surprise surprise…the two begin to have feelings for each other.

The movie manages to stay away from the creep-factor, in that we really only see Cynthia’s feelings develop, and Wainwright remains almost parental until Cynthia’s big reveal.

I have to admit, I really love this movie.  In part, I’m sure, to my undying love for Van Johnson.  Something about that tall red-headed man is just so darn appealing.  Infatuation aside, the dialogue between the primary characters is very funny, and the actors make this far-fetched story work.

Many Rivers To Cross – 1955

 

I love great character names…Holly Golightly, Trip Fontaine, Rooster Cogburn, Lloyd Dobler…but my favorite character name of all time happens to come from one of my favorite movies:

Many Rivers To Cross – starring Robert Taylor and Eleanor Parker

This 1955 MGM film stars Robert Taylor as, are you ready, Bushrod Gentry (great name, right?) and Eleanor Parker as his devoted admirer, Mary Stuart Cherne.

This underrated western-comedy is pure enjoyment, mainly due to the banter between Parker and Taylor.

Bushrod Gentry (Taylor) is a somewhat famous frontiersman who is devoted to his freewheeling life as a fur trapper.  His pioneer playboy lifestyle is going along fairly well until he meets Mary Stuart Cherne (Parker), an almost-spinster who sets her desperate and determined cap for Bushrod.  Mary is bound to have her way and traps Bushrod into a marriage that he immediately tries to escape.

Not to be outdone, Mary pursues Bushrod through the wilds of the American West, foiling Indians and fighting for the love of her reluctant bridegroom.

This western is more comedy than action, but 100% enjoyment.  There is also a great chance you will find yourself singing Bushrod’s song about the “Berry Tree” for days and days.

 

*Scenes to watch for: Bushrod’s early attempts at avoiding matrimony

Rachel and the Stranger – 1948

There is a running theme in my life that I only recently discovered…I love William Holden movies.  To be clear – Mr. Holden is not new to me, I’ve known of him my entire life.  His films aren’t foreign to my eyes, I’ve watched many of them over the years.  What is new, is my realization that several of my all-time-favorite films have a running theme…William Holden (William Beedle to his friends).

My favorite movie of all time stars the handsome Mr. H, but this post is not dedicated to that film (to be announced at a later date), this post is all about Rachel:

Rachel and the Stranger – starring William Holden, Loretta Young, and Robert Mitchum.

An RKO classic from 1948, Rachel and the Stranger alternates between humor, romance, and adventure.  It is, in my opinion, an egregiously overlooked western.

This film, set against the wilderness of colonial America, revolves around Dave Harvey (Holden), his son Davey (Gary Gray), his best friend/sometimes-nemesis Jim Fairways (Mitchum) and the woman who enters their life, Rachel (Young).

Rachel is an indentured servant whom Dave “buys” out of her service contract and then weds as a stand-in for his deceased wife.  Dave is seeking a marriage “in name alone” as a way of providing a mother for his son, but soon begins to see the many virtues in Rachel when his friend Jim makes advances toward her.  Along with the very entertaining love triangle, is the struggle of these characters to establish themselves in a landscape where danger lurks at every turn.

This film is everything that a pioneer film should be.

*Scene to watch for: Any scene involving Robert Mitchum, he is perfect in this role.  Also, you will be singing his “signature” tune for hours upon hearing it.

Bachelor Mother – 1939

Picking the very first film to write about is difficult.  I have thousands of movies at my disposal, so what’s a girl to do? Do I pick a well-known classic?  Do I go with my favorite movie of all time?  Do I try to find something obscure so I can seem hip and offbeat?  I’ll take the fourth option, and go with a movie that is saved on my DVR and has played on my television several times over the past month:

Bachelor Mother starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven.

This 1939 RKO gem is charming.  The actors are charming, the script is charming…even the little apartment Ginger Rogers’ character lives in is charming.  It tells the story of Polly Parrish (Rogers) and David Merlin (Niven) an employee-employer who find themselves thrown together after a case of mistaken maternity.

David Niven as the wealthy and slightly stiff Merlin, is handsome and hilarious as he tries to turn the reluctant Polly into a model mother.

Ginger Rogers as the accidental mother, Polly, is witty and bright as she tries to sort out the unexpected turn her life has taken.

This is not a song and dance movie (though there is a 1950′s musical remake, Bundle of Joy, starring Debbie Reynolds), but the filmmakers take the opportunity to showcase a little of Ginger’s famous abilities.  This film is quite simply the type of fun and funny romp that makes a girl like me long for a time where ladies wore stockings and men always had linen handkerchiefs on hand.

*Scene to watch for: Merlin and the how-to-guide for babies