Sunday, February 03, 2002


This was another interesting B-comedy that tried hard but couldn't quite overcome a small budget and less than top-notch writing. Tom Drake is a soldier who returns from the war to the department store at which he worked (in the shoe department), expecting to find his old girlfriend (Donna Reed) who worked in the stock room--she's still at the store, but now she's a buyer and she's unofficially engaged to someone else. An artificial time constaint is put in place (he's only home for two weeks, then he has to go back to a miltary hospital for tests before he's done with his wartime duties) so that Reed and their friends in the shoe department (Edward Everett Horton, Spring Byington, Margaret Hamilton) try to keep his illusions intact to give him a lovely two weeks. Of course, Reed falls back in love with Drake.

The plot is full of holes and underdeveloped ideas--we are told much more than we are shown about the background of the couple and about Reed's current situation. The pleasures here are mostly in the supporting cast. Byington comes off best. Horton was getting a bit long in the tooth for his befuddled whimsey, but he's still fun to watch. It's nice to see Hamilton playing a modern-dress part, although she is underused. Harry Davenport (looking like Death personified--and two years away from his own real death at the age of 83) gives a nicely understated performance as Drake's great-grandfather who helps to bring the two together.

A scene with Horton getting "fried to his eyeballs" on the town with some friends (and trying to make sure that Reed and Drake's date is successful) comes close to buidling a SHOP AROUND THE CORNER atmosphere, but the film can't begin to touch Lubitsch. One last note: this was the same year Reed broke through in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE; it's two years after Drake was in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, but he actually looks younger in this film.

No comments: