Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bedtime Story (1941)

I always like seeing an actor or actress in a type of film I am not used to seeing them in like a dramatic actress in a comedy or a comedic actor in a drama. Usually it is the first I like where an actor or actress who usually does dramatic films or these days TV shows and then they make a comedy. For example, years and years ago when Alias was still on TV I could not believe that Jennifer Garner was going to be in a comedy film where she had to be light and silly. Then I saw 13 Going on 30 twice its opening weekend and I worried about how I would watch her in Alias that weekend I was so used to seeing her nice! (but if you are an Alias fanatic like myself you will have seen the bloopers and apparently the cast was silly more so than serious).
            You must be thinking what on earth does this have to do with a film from 1941? In Bedtime Stories Loretta Young plays a flustered stage actress named Jane Drake. Up until this point I had only ever seen Young in serious films including two silent ones. I had not seen her in a comedy.
            Jane and Luke Drake (Fredric March) are husband and wife theaters actors. One night Jane was saying thank you to the audience and wanted Luke on the stage with her but he is nowhere to be found. He is not even at their house when Jane arrives home. When Jane arrives home she is tired. She and Luke have been performing for seven years non-stop and they both want a break. Or so Jane believes.
            Luke has started writing a play and wants Jane to play the lead. He even bought a theater by selling the farm house they had planned to relax at. When Jane finds out her husband’s planes she is furious with him. She did not want to do another play she wanted to go away with Luke and relax. Jane goes to Reno for a divorce. Luke is upset that Jane is getting a divorce from him but he still wants her to star in his play he wrote it for her. Luke tells a columnist that he is heartbroken about the divorce and he wants to shut the play down. This is the beginning of his plan to get Jane to come back. Fortunately it works. Jane comes back and there is no divorce.
            When Jane comes come she has Luke promise not to work on the play and to spend time with her. She figures he is working on his script because a drawer in his desk is locked. To prove he is not lying (when he in fact really is) he tells her he will break the desk. Jane believes Luke and stops him from breaking the desk. Their manager Eddie comes in with a girl for the show. Eddie makes it look like the girl is for him. After a few minutes of looking at the girl Jane knows the show is still going on. To top her frustration off a set designer walks in. Jane leaves again and does make it to Reno.
            Luke goes out to Reno. Jane asks him if he is going to give up the theater. He tells her no it is in both of them. He hands Jane the script and says he will not do anything without her approval. When Jane returns home she reads in the paper that an actress named Virginia Cole (Eve Arden) has been chosen as the lead actress in Luke’s play. Jane is upset mostly because Virginia is a comedic stage actress. Virginia goes to Luke’s office. She just read she is going to be in the play. He tells Virginia he set the news up to get Jane to agree to play the part because she hates parts that are miscast. Jane then comes into the office. Luke is ready for her to fight for the role. Jane just stopped by to tell him that she is selling her furniture in the house.
            Jane is marrying their banker William. Luke sees the marriage in the paper as he was walking out of the theater. He hears from a cop that a speakeasy is going to be raided that night. Luke calls William telling him to meet at the speakeasy. Luke also has Jane come to the theater to see some of the show performed. During the performance Luke tells Virginia she is not good. Jane defends her and he asks her to show Virginia how to play the part. Jane performs the part. Virginia pretends to throw a fit and be upset. Now there is no one for the lead. Luke walks Jane across the street from the theater to show her the marquee. He has named the theater after her. She decides to do the show temporarily until an actress can be found. Luke’s entire plan falls apart when the police officer tells them a banker was arrested in the raid.
            The next day Luke goes to Jane’s apartment to apologize for what he did to William. The maid and the butler are upset and crying because Jane and William have gotten married. Luke gets the idea to hire some actors to pretend to be lawyers to present Jane with legal action saying she is most likely still married to him and her marriage to William is illegal. They say that Jane went to Reno but did not say long enough for a divorce since she came back to town. Jane is not happy with William. She is hoping there will be an issue with them being married.
            Eventually Luke gets Jane back and she acts in his play.
            Fredric March and Loretta Young were fabulous together. I liked seeing Loretta Young in a comedy. Like Irene Dunne, Young always seemed to be such a lady that to see her silly in a film was so funny because you are not used to her acting in this type of film. I know she was in others later in the forties which I cannot wait to see after watching Bedtime Story. Fredric March was so versatile he seemed to slip from dramas to comedies with ease. Even though Young and March did a great job in their roles you can see they were a little uncomfortable stepping out of their typical roles in certain scenes. Eve Arden nearly steals the film with one scene. When her character pretends to be upset about being let go from the play she says she will into burlesque and gives a thrust. I was dying and if you have ever seen Eve Arden in a film you do not even need to have watched the scene to know she was hysterical in it and how she delivered the lines.
            Bedtime Story is a very cute film even if it is a bit clichéd. The ending made me do a forehead slap it was so typical. Besides the clichéd story and predictable ending Bedtime Story is worth watching for the cast. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Sun Comes Up (1949)

There is a rule in Hollywood that you never kill a dog. People do not want to see a dog get hurt in any way. It is so traumatic to see a cute dog get hurt or killed. I never thought I would be one of those people who almost cry when a dog, or any animal for that matter, has something bad happen to it but now that I have a cute Yellow Lab puppy (who looks like she is one she is so tall and so big) named Indy (full name is Indiana Bones, of course, after Indiana Jones) I go crazy if a dog or animal gets hurt. Fortunately in the 1949 film The Sun Comes Up the only things that hurts poor Lassie (this is a Lassie film) are his feelings.
            Helen Lorefield Winter (Jeanette MacDonald) is an opera singer. She has not sung live in three years since her husband died and she now has to look after her son Hank. Helen’s agent tells her she has been away too long and has been keeping too much of an eye on Hank. She replies that she does not care she will quit everything if Hank feels he is not getting the mother he deserves. Eventually Helen gets talked into giving a performance. Her driver brought Lassie to pick Helen and Hank up after the show. Lassie jumps out of the car in the middle of a busy street. Hank goes to get Lassie and he is hit by a truck and killed.
            Helen has been in a depression for months. She finally wants to get up and get away. She hates Lassie she will not even acknowledge he is around. The maid convinces Helen to take the go away after all the dog is lonely without Hank too and Hank would not like the way she (Helen) has been treating the dog. Helen goes out into a small town in the mountains. She is not too crazy about being up there at first but then she gets the hang of the way of life and enjoys herself. One day a kid named Jerry walks past the house. When he comes around the following day Lassie runs out to him to play. Jerry is a handy boy and Helen pays him to do things for her. After a while she does not want Jerry to come around anymore. It pains her to see the boy she thinks too much of Hank. She changes her mind though after Jerry saves Lassie from a deadly rattlesnake. He is surprised Lassie does not know how to survive in the mountains. Helen has Jerry teach the dog about the area and to play with him.
            Jerry makes Helen very happy. She becomes so happy she calls her agent to say she wants to go out on tour again. Eventually there is nothing Helen will not do for Jerry. She comes to love the boy very much.
            This was the last film Jeanette MacDonald made. MacDonald was fabulous. The more of her films I see the more I enjoy her. She is very watchable she seemed professional and comfortable in front of the camera playing different characters. Although I liked the film I kind of feel bad MacDonald had to end her career with a Lassie film. At MacDonald’s acting was top notch because it helped to watch the film.
            The Sun Comes Up was cute but to me the story was a bit dragged out. There were some shots that could have been cut down. This is not one of Jeanette MacDonald’s greatest but The Sun Comes Up is worth watching just for her. And also for Lassie who was adorable and sweet

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ada (1961)

“Never trust a woman, Sylvester, any man would tell you that”

            Ada is about politics in the south in the 1930s. To me it tries to be a political thriller and it just falls miserably short.
            Bo Gillis (Dean Martin) is running for governor in a southern state. He is not a typical politician. He carries around a guitar and sings. Bo’s friend Steve writes all his speeches. He finds it odd that Steve is not the one running for governor since he had more education. In one town the two friends go to a bar at the hotel for a party. Someone sets Ada (Susan Hayward) up with Bo to give him a good time. Ada has no idea who Bo is or why he is so important. Bo really enjoys talking to Ada and they go up to his room. They spend the night together. The next morning when Steve comes in Ada leaves without saying goodbye.
            A few nights later Bo and Ada have dinner together. He does not want her to go to Memphis. Bo asks her to marry him. Steve is not happy about Bo marrying Ada and neither is Sylvester, Bo’s mentor and backer. Both men are worried about the voters. Sylvester says they will just write up a fake biography of Ada for the campaign. Ada does not care she had made up a few lies about herself before.
            Sylvester wants to get Bo into office no matter what it takes. He talks to the Lieutenant Governor about how the bigger cities may be hard to gain votes and is thinking about buying votes on the reform ticket. Sylvester heard a rumor that the opponent’s wife is addicted to drugs. He has the opponents home raided and the wife arrested. The wife made bail then went home and killed herself. Bo wins the cities by a landslide.
            After this things get complicated for Bo and Ada. Bo, with Ada’s help, starts thinking on his own which Sylvester does not like and tries to have Bo killed. Ada becomes acting governor for Bo then Bo thinks she is the one who tried to kill him and he gets mad at her. Seriously, it becomes a mess.
            Susan Hayward was, as usual, fantastic. She always played a tough woman who never took crap from anyone and that was the way Ada was. No one could have played Ada any better than Hayward. This was the first time I have ever seen Dean Martin in a film. I am so used to hearing him sing that the first time I heard Martin talk it was weird! He has such a gorgeous singing voice and when he talks he almost sounds like a little boy.

            Ada was way too long for me. I got bored of the story pretty quickly. It was as though the story tried to be a backstabbing political thriller and, as I mentioned, it failed. I only suggest watching Ada if you are a fan of either Susan Hayward or Dean Martin.