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Posts Tagged ‘thelma ritter’

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This film is a remake of My Favorite Wife (1940), the hilarious film which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Move Over Darling was originally going to be called Something’s Got to Give, and meant to star Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. When Monroe was fired before the film was finished and Dean Martin subsequently pulled out of the project, it was rewritten for Doris Day, who starred opposite James Garner.

Ellen Arden (Day) has been missing presumed dead for five years, after a plane she was travelling on crashed into the ocean. Her husband Nick (James Garner) survived the crash, and now wants to have Ellen declared legally dead so that he can marry his new girlfriend Bianca (Polly Bergen). However – wouldn’t you just know it? – on the very day that Nick and Bianca marry, Ellen is brought home after being rescued by the Navy from the desert island she has made her home. Hoping to rekindle her marriage with Nick, she is more than a little surprised to see that there is now a new Mrs Arden…!

It’s been a while since I watched My Favorite Wife, but I remember that I really enjoyed it. Cary Grant was better than almost anyone in these kinds of slapstick roles, and Irene Dunne was always great when she played opposite him. So actors in any remake had big boots to fill – but Doris Day can pretty much do no wrong, and she is fantastic here. She sparkles with the magic she brings to all of her roles, and really shows off her talent for comedy. Similarly James Garner was really great as Nick, and the two played off each other with great chemistry. Kudos to Polly Bergen for playing the somewhat hard done to Bianca, and major props to Thelma Ritter, who played Nick’s mother, Grace Arden.

Overall, a really lovely and enjoyable film – less screwball than MFW, but just as good in it’s own way. I recommend it!

 

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This film is the first of three films which teamed Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  Day is serious, independent interior designer Jan Morrow, and Hudson is songwriter and playboy Brad Allen.  They share a party line (readers under a certain age will not know what that is, but basically, they share the same telephone number although they live at different addresses, and when one is using the telephone, the other is unable to do so).  Jan is annoyed because Brad is constantly using the phone to romance various women, which means that nobody can get through to her.  They argue about it via telephone, but without actually meeting.  When Brad sees Jan, he falls for her, but realises that if she discovers his identity, she won’t give him the time of day, so he pretends to be a Texan tourist named Rex Stinson, and their romance develops…

This film preceded 1961’s Lover Come Back – the second Day/Hudson film, and the two plot lines are basically the same – she is the strong career-minded woman, and he is the playboy who pretends to be someone else in order to romance her.  I loved Lover Come Back, but I think I preferred Pillow Talk.  The chemistry between the two leads is terrific, and Day in particular is extremely funny.  It’s not particularly spoilerish to say that she does eventually discover his true identity, and the use of music and facial expressions in that scene genuinely made me laugh out loud.

Truly excellent support was provided by Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter – in fact these two almost stole the movie!  Randall plays Jonathan Forbes, a client of Jan’s who has fallen in love with her – and he also happens to be friends with Brad!  Ritter is Jan’s permanently sozzled maid Alma, and every scene that she was in was a gem.

Overall, this was a hugely enjoyable, light-hearted film, which is an absolute must for fans of old-fashioned romances.

Year of release: 1959

Director: Michael Gordon

Producers: Martin Melcher, Ross Hunter, Edward Muhl

Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Maurice Richlin, Russell Rouse, Clarence Greene

Main cast: Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter

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Married couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward play opposite each other in this frothy comedy from the 1960s.  After watching it, I read a few reviews and was quite surprised to see some of the vitriol directed towards this film, with it being described in some places as Newman’s worst film.  I suspect there are a few reasons for such animosity; (1) Anyone who thinks this is Newman’s worst film has clearly not seen The Silver Chalice – which Newman himself was not a fan of! (2) Paul Newman was in some iconic and wonderful films, and any that fall somewhat short of those standards may receive short shrift, and (3) Admittedly, this film is not very Newman-esque.  Anyway….I liked it quite a lot more than I expected to.

Woodward plays Samantha (Sam) Blake, a buyer for a clothes store, who is constantly being mistaken for a man, due to her short haircut and masculine clothes.  She travels with Paris with her boss and colleague in order to look at the new fashions, so that her store can copy them.  Newman is Steve Sherman, a womanising sports journalist who disgraces himself with his boss’s wife, and gets sent to Paris, basically so that he is out of the boss’s way!  They meet each other, and there is an instant antagonism between them.  When Sam has a makeover, Steve fails to recognise her and mistakes her for a call girl, who he decides to interview in order to write a column about her profession.

It’s a nice little comedy, with both stars seeming to have a lot of fun with their roles.  The storyline is pretty bonkers, and not particularly credible, but I’m not sure that it’s supposed to be.  Actually the film reminded me a lot of some of the comedies from the 30s and 40s.  There were plenty of witty lines, and it was colourful and fun, and Thelma Ritter provided excellent support.  I did think that Woodward looked FAR more attractive before her makeover – and whatever the script said, she did not look like a man at all – but the story still kind of worked, because she could not have been mistaken for a call girl before the makeover.  I’m not sure what that says about makeovers – probably, just be careful where you go for one!

Strangely, there was not a whole lot of chemistry between Newman and Woodward, unlike in The Long Hot Summer, where their chemistry was positively sizzling.  However, this may have been because they were antagonistic and untruthful to each other for much of A New Kind of Love.  The ending was somewhat predictable, but no less fun for that.

Ultimately, it is a forgettable film, but it is fun and well worth watching.

Year of release: 1963

Director: Melville Shavelson

Producer: Melville Shavelson

Writer: Melville Shavelson

Main cast: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Thelma Ritter, Eva Gabor, George Tobias

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This is a rather lovely musical, featuring Fred Astaire as Jervis Pendleton, a wealthy man who travels to France and sees 18 year old orphan Julie (Leslie Caron). He determines to help her, and secretly pays for her to move to America, where he funds her schooling and pays her living expenses. Julie has no idea who her mysterious benefactor – who she calls ‘Daddy Long Legs’ – is, and is as eager to find out, as Jervis is to keep his secret. But when the two of them meet up after a few years, there is an attraction between them…

I enjoyed this film a lot – Fred Astaire is as pleasing as ever, and does some lovely dancing. Leslie Caron is a perfect partner for him in this respect, as she was an amazing ballet dancer, and their grace and talent combined makes for some beautiful sequences.

There’s plenty of comedy to be had as well – Astaire had a comic flair which was great for light-hearted film such as this, and Leslie Caron mixes just about the right amount of feistiness with a touch of vulnerability, making her character very endearing.

Basically, this is a very sweet, light and enjoyable film. Perfect for watching when you want something that you don’t need to think too hard about, but that will put a smile on your face. Definitely recommended for all fans of musicals.

Year of release: 1955

Director: Jean Negulesco

Producer: Samuel G. Engel

Writers: Jean Webster (novel), Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron

Main cast: Fred Astaire, Leslie Caron, Thelma Ritter, Fred Clark

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In Hitchcock’s thriller from 1954, James Stewart is photographer L.B. Jeffries, forced to stay at home with a broken leg, and nothing better to do than stare out of his rear window and watch the lives of his neighbours going on around him.  He becomes convinced that one of the neighbours has committed murder, and is determined to prove it, despite a lack of any evidence.  His girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) help him try to uncover the evidence he needs.

I love this kind of movie – apart from just a couple of scenes, everything the viewer sees is exactly how Jeffries sees it from his window.  This means that we are privy to only the things he is aware of, and this really places the viewer in the apartment with Jeffries.

James Stewart was great in the central role.  He plays an active man, who enjoys his varied and exciting work as a photographer, who is frustrated at being stuck in his apartment all the time.  Another source of frustration is his relationship with Lisa; while he thinks they have no future because they are so different, she is very much in love and can’t understand why he is not more enthusiastic about them being together. Grace Kelly does a great job in the role, and there seems to be real chemistry between the characters.  However, it is Thelma Ritter who makes a bigger impression – and nearly steals all of the scenes she is in, as the sharp minded and quick talking Stella.

The ending has been somewhat maligned, for reasons I won’t mention here, as to do so would be to give away spoilers, but I personally liked it, especially the very last couple of scenes.

This is not a film with lots of twists and turns and a lot of action – in fact there is very little action, but I still thought there was plenty of suspense, and would certainly watch this film again.

Year of release: 1954

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writers: John Michael Hayes, Cornell Woolrich

Main cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr

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