Saturday, December 15, 2001


Odd comedy-drama with Cary Grant as a reporter in Europe in 1938 as Hitler is getting serious about taking over Europe. He falls for Ginger Rogers, an ex-burlesque queen who is passing as a cultured lady, married to a man (Walter Slezak) who turns out to be a high-ranking Nazi. She becomes a spy for the US. It reminded me a bit of a comic variation on NOTORIOUS with Rogers as Bergman and Slezak as Rains. The movie goes grim a couple of times, most notably when Grant and Rogers are mistaken for Jews and are herded into a miserable group bound for a concentration camp. The scene, with a mournful Jewish song playing in the background, is short, and certainly the filmmakers probably didn't realize the full horror of what was happening to the Jews being rounded up, but it remains a strange scene, all the more disturbing for having a fast, happy ending for Grant and Rogers, who get out quickly. I haven't seen Walter Slezak in many films, but he was very good in this one, showing himself to be a subtle actor. Albert Dekker is also good in a fairly small part as the man who recruits Rogers for the spying mission. Rogers spends much of the first hour doing something close to a Katharine Hepburn imitation--she's faking a high-class Philadelphia background--and it's a relief when she reverts to her normal voice.

I'd recommend it, but at 2 hours, it does wear out its welcome. The ending on a US-bound ship, as the filmmakers obviously do contortions trying to make sure that the bad guy gets his just desserts but that the good guys don't do anything too immoral, must be seen to be believed! Leo McCarey, who handled Grant to much stronger effect in THE AWFUL TRUTH, directed. Grant and Rogers have quite a bit of chemistry in the earlier scenes, and Grant seems as relaxed as I've ever seen him.

No comments: