Thursday, November 07, 2002


This movie is apparently historically important for its weird blend of screwball comedy and Red-baiting; I've read about it frequently, but it doesn't shown very often. It's certainly no masterpiece, but I'm glad I was able to see it. The anti-Communist element would have made it more topical about 15 years later--and indeed it had a major theatrical re-release during the McCarthy era. Barbara Stanwyck plays the daughter of an Army general who plans to marry a campus radical (Hardie Albright), much to her father's dismay. When Stanwyck's aunt flies off to Mexico on vacation, the father arranges to have her shanghaied along to get her away from the commie boyfriend. While there, she gets involved with an American soldier (Robert Young) who ends up going AWOL to help her get back home. The middle of the movie becomes a kind of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT road trip (except Young is no Gable) with the amusing Cliff Edwards along for some laughs. Ruth Donnelly is wasted in a small part as Edwards' shrewish wife. The general realizes that Young might be the one to get Stanwyck away from Albright, and he hires Young to bust up the radical protest.

The movie is amusing in places, but could have been a bit more tightly plotted. For example, I'm glad that Cliff Edwards is brought back at the finale, but it makes no sense that he's there. One of the more notorious lines occurs when Young, who has seen Stanwyck on the dance floor, declares that she can't be a Red because thinkers are dodos on the dance floor. The anti-intellectualism that pairs up thinking with Communism (which implies, of course, that red-blooded Americans can't or shouldn't think), is astoundingly stupid. It's kind of a reverse SWEPT AWAY, with the female Marxist converted by the male capitalist--though Stanwyck never really seems to be especially political at any point in the movie. Funny in spots, but sluggishly paced. Still worth seeing just for its *weirdness*.

No comments: