Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Julia Misbehaves (1948)



As a lover of classic films I often have a very difficult time finding films on DVD and even on youtube and through downloading sites. Thankfully I get TCM so I am able to catch many classic films that are unavailable anywhere else. Often I will see an excellent old film on TCM, look for it on Amazon or to download, and if it is not available I am left wishing to no end it was available on DVD. Julia Misbehaves starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon was one such old film that left wishing it was on DVD.
            Julia Packett (Garson) is a dancer and actor who makes very little money. Several years ago she was married to a man named William Packett (Pidgeon) and they had a daughter together but he left her because as he said he did not love her anymore and she let him take their daughter Susan so she could have a better life. They are still technically married they never divorced. Julia gets an invitation in the mail for Susan’s wedding. She has to go even though she has not seen her daughter in so long.
            William lives with his mother and daughter in the south of France. His mother is a pain in the behind and very overbearing and is no doubt the reason why William left Julia. When his mother finds out Julia is coming to the wedding she has her son meet his former wife in Paris to stop her from coming. On the ship over to France Julia meets an acrobat named Fred Ghenocchio (Caesar Romero) and his family. She decides to join his act for one night leaving a note with William that she cannot go out to dinner with him because she has accepted an invitation to the opera. William figures out where she is and sees her show.
            Julia never did see William in Paris and gets to his home before him. His mother is none too pleased but Julia could care less she just wants to see her daughter. She finally does and Susan (played by a sixteen year old Elizabeth Taylor) is beautiful. Julia finds out that Susan sent the invitation. The two women hug and cry after so many years apart. Julia decides to make up for all the years and Christmases missed she is going to buy gifts for her daughter but unfortunately she does not have any money. She goes to a gambling house loses her money but finds a very nice rich old man who is more than willing to give her money for some dresses he thinks she is buying for herself.
            She sneaks out on the old man and when she gets back to the house William opens the door for her. As soon as they see each other their old spark is reunited between them.
            As the film progresses Julia sees that Susan is not really in love with the man her grandmother has set her to marry she really loves a boy named Ritchie (Peter Lawford). William and Julia begin to fall back in love but two slight problems arise when Fred and his mother come by and the man Julia took money from is a friend of William’s (William sets up a gag with his friend that helps to get rid of Fred).
            This was my first time watching a Greer Garson film and one of her famous pairings with Walter Pidgeon.  I loved Greer Garson in this film I she was so hysterical. I know she is more famous for her dramas and won an Academy Award for Mrs. Miniver but she was so fantastic in this comedy. I was cracking up to no end when Julia did her stage show with Fred and his brothers. She had to be up in a tower singing and the brothers would climb onto each other and get her down. Well, Julia was not too happy about that she was terrified so she kept messing up the brothers and her singing. When she got down and finished her number she saw some sailors from the Royal Navy and sang their song. The whole time she is singing she is moving around on stage and the brothers are trying to get her off the stage but they keep pulling off some of her clothing like her wrap around her skirt and her gloves. You would have to see it I was cracking up. The ending is adorable: Julia is determined not to be left along with William in the middle of nowhere in his vacation house so she treks it out during a storm but he is watching the whole time. Julia gets stuck in the mud and digs out her shoe and slides down some fire wood. William comes out and the two of them are stuck in the mud. Garson was fantastic I enjoyed her so much I cannot wait to see her in her other films.
            Elizabeth Taylor was gorgeous and usually she gets on my nerves to no end but I really liked her in this film she actually acted nicely. The whole time Susan claims she does not like Ritchie because he fell in love with her and started kissing her but after talking to Julia and being purposely scared by a bear she sees how much she loved him. Peter Lawford was adorable he was so cute when he was younger.
            Julia Misbehaves is an adorable film. Not too many things are explained such as the whole reason why William broke things off and there is no animosity from Susan towards her mother for leaving her. The film came out after WWII when people really wanted something light and to forget about their problems for a while so there is no heavy explaining which is fine and it fit the storyline. It was nice to see an old film not look so much to the past but look ahead Julia was not a woman to really look backward she was looking forward.
            I really wish Julia Misbehaves was on DVD. Hopefully Warner Archives will eventually. If TCM airs the film again definitely catch it.