Thursday, September 19, 2002

CAIRO (1942)

I am most assuredly not a fan of Jeanette MacDonald, so I don't know why I watched CAIRO in the first place. She has a couple of moments here, but like Ruby Keeler in COLLEEN (which I reviewed a few days ago), she is mostly a big energy drain at the center of the movie. Overall, it's a rather cute spy movie spoof, with Robert Young as an American reporter who gets in over his head with a spy ring in Cairo. He thinks MacDonald is a German spy, and gets suckered in by the real spies (including Reginald Owen and Mona Barrie, an actress I'd never heard of, who is pretty good here). There is a very funny bit where Barrie complains about the constant use of secret passages ("Why can't we use doors like normal people?"). There are sneaky references to WIZARD OF OZ and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, and a very fun reference to MacDonald's role in the movie SAN FRANCISCO: Young says to her, "Have you ever been in San Francisco," and she replies, "Once, with Gable and Tracy, and the joint fell apart." Ethel Waters gets to sing but otherwise is underused, as is Dooley Wilson, who gets about three minutes of screen time as Waters' love interest. Despite MacDonald, it is a fun movie, although it drags a bit in the middle.

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