Saturday, December 31, 2005


The best classic movies that I saw for the first time this year, in alphabetical order:

BEN-HUR (1925): The silent version of the Biblical epic, with Ramon Novarro. I'm trying to decide if it's worth getting the overblown Heston version on DVD just to get this as an 'extra.' (Mar.)

BORN TO BE BAD (1934): Loretta Young and Cary Grant in one of the last of the naughty pre-Code melodramas; struggling mother Young (in her best bad-girl performance) tries to seduce rich Grant away from his bride-to-be. (Feb.)

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (1944): Not really a holiday film, but a good noir with two stars playing against type: Deanna Durbin as a fallen woman and Gene Kelly as the murderous mother-loving thug she married. (Dec.)

DON'T TURN 'EM LOOSE (1936): Perhaps the only anti-parole propaganda film ever made. It's a little B-movie gem with Bruce Cabot doing a fine job as a paroled thug who acts like a golden boy in front of his family (including Lewis Stone as his father). (Nov.)

THE GENERAL DIED AT DAWN (1936): The best Marlene Dietrich movie that Dietrich never made. It's a lot like her SHANGHAI EXPRESS but with Madeleine Carroll as the good/bad lady and Gary Cooper as the hero. Funny, sexy, exciting. (July)

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW (1965): Pasolini's bare-bones, documentary-style take on the life of Jesus. Compelling and at times beautiful. (Mar.)

MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN (1960): A low budget French/Italian horror film with a plot that is a cross between HOUSE OF WAX and EYES WITHOUT A FACE. Acting and atmosphere make this stand out above the run-of-the-mill horror film of the time. (Oct.)

THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER (1951): The wonderful Thelma Ritter gets to play a lead role here as a marriage broker who comes to question her life's work, and it's a wonderful, underrated film, a comedy with some serious overtones. (Dec.)

THREE ON A MATCH (1932): Archetypal pre-Code movie with sex and crime and scandal; three former schoolmates (Bette Davis, Ann Dvorak, and Joan Blondell) meet up a few years later and get involved in each other's lives. It's short, fast-paced, and lots of fun. (Technically, I'd seen this before, but remembered little about it) (Apr.)

THE WIND (1928): Silent film with Lillian Gish as a young woman stuck in a marriage of convenience fighting for survival in a barren, wind-swept part of Texas. Melodramatic, but powerful. (Apr.)

THE WOMAN ON PIER 13 (aka I MARRIED A COMMUNIST--1949): Good cross of noir thriller and anti-Communist propaganda. Stars Robert Ryan and Laraine Day are fine, but the real gem is Janis Carter as the icy blonde bad girl. (May)

I saw some good WWII movies, such as GUADALCANAL DIARY, BATAAN, SO PROUDLY WE HAIL, and THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY. I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of Shirley Temple films (BRIGHT EYES and REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM) and I had fun seeing the 60's camp thriller DANGER: DIABOLIK. Other highlights included Maurice Chevalier in FOLIES-BERGERE, a fun B-movie with Gloria Stuart called WANTED: JANE TURNER, and Errol Flynn in SANTA FE TRAIL. My disappointments seemed few and far between this year, so I won't dwell on those this time. As far as recent films, it was a dry year for me. I didn't see many, and the few I genuinely liked included MYSTERIOUS SKIN, FANTASTIC FOUR, THE ARISTOCRATS, DOWNFALL, and SERENITY. CAPOTE and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK had great acting but fell down in other areas. I haven't seen the new KING KONG yet but I have high hopes for it. The DVD release of the 1933 original was yet another wonderful package from Warner Home Video.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


I'm usually a sucker for Christmas-themed films, but this year, my cinema stocking was rather bare. My annual holiday TV-movie, CHRISTMAS IN BOSTON, on ABC Family, was pretty lame. The plot device had potential: a man and woman who have never met but have been pen-pals for years finally arrange to meet, but then chicken out and each has a friend pose as him or her. The friends wind up falling in love, and so do the pen-pals, without knowing each other's real identities until the end. The acting was OK; Patrick J. Admas fit the bill nicely as the requisite blandly handsome leading man, though I can't say much for Marla Sokoloff as his pen-pal. As an average TV-movie romance, this is pretty average; the real problem for me is that the holiday element is completely beside the point. This could have been set on Labor Day or Arbor Day or June 8th, and the film totally wastes any possibility for using holiday cheer, charm, and magic.

The Christmassy TENTH AVENUE ANGEL is a movie I've avoided watching in the past, mostly because the movie guide critics really hate it and give it one star or less. The "civilian" reviewers on IMDb, however, tend to love it and give it all the stars they can, so I broke down and watched it this year. It's not quite as bad as the professional critics say (Halliwell calls it "icky" and Maltin gives it a Bomb rating), but it's not one I'd rush to watch again. Ten-year-old Margaret O'Brien plays the title character, a whimsical Pollyanna-type who lives in the tenements and zips around on her roller skates, brightening the lives of the neighborhood residents. Her mother (Phyllis Thaxter) and father (Warner Anderson), though loving parents, are secondary characters next to her aunt (Angela Lansbury) and Lansbury's boyfriend (George Murphy). Murphy has just returned home from prison (O'Brien was told he was traveling the globe) and is trying to put his life back together; his buddy at the taxi company where he used to work (Barry Nelson, with an unbecoming pencil-thin mustache) gives him a job washing cabs and promises him that, after his 6-month parole period is over and he can hold a driver's license again, he'll be back in as a driver. However, Murphy finds it hard to escape his past and decides that he shouldn't marry Lansbury and plans to leave town after parole. Meanwhile, O'Brien becomes disillusioned when she finds out that everything adults say isn't necessarily true and she starts moping around, losing her whimsical charm. At Christmas, Anderson is low on money, Thaxter is pregnant, and Murphy is tempted to join up with his crime buddies for one last heist. When Thaxter collapses, gives premature birth, and seems on the verge of death, O'Brien decides that finding a Christmas miracle will somehow help so she goes hunting for a cow at midnight on Christmas Eve to see if it will kneel like the legends say. Guess what? It does, and somehow all the other situations come to uplifting resolutions in the last 5 minutes of the movie. The folks on IMDb who love this movie are mostly Margaret O'Brien fans, and certainly O'Brien is pretty good here, doing the best she can with some artlessly sappy situations and dialogue. Murphy also does a good job, very believable as a nice guy who's trying hard to stay out of trouble and live up to the expectations of others. Rhys Williams does a decent job as a blind news seller who figures in a major subplot. Still, overall, it does lay the sentiment on a little heavily, and the Miracle of the Cow just comes off as silly. [TCM]

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Yikes! I sat through another Ritz Brothers movie and lived! (see my review of THE GORILLA, 4/30/05). It's not a terrible movie exactly, but the Brothers look like they're having much more fun than the audience. The main reason I watched it was to see Ethel Merman in one of her rare screen appearances, but she doesn't have much to do. The Ritzes work at a side show, giving pony rides to kids. At a horse race, they accidently bet on Playboy, a horse which comes out of nowhere to win. The horse belongs to heiress Phyllis Brooks, but her boyfriend, Richard Arlen, tired of her all-consuming interest in the horse and convinced that the win was a fluke, bets her that if Playboy doesn't win again in three months time, he gets the horse and her. The horse does prove a loser and Arlen sells the horse to the Ritzes with the stipulation that they cannot re-sell it (a lame plot device so that Brooks can't just buy it back). The brothers discover that the horse is better at steeplechase jumping than racing, and Brooks helps them to train the horse and enter it in a big race. Many plot improbabilities later, the Ritzes wind up taking the place of three Russian jockeys who are out to sabotage the race. Arlen gives in and rides Playboy to victory, with the predictable happy ending for all, except perhaps Merman, who plays a brassy babe who loves Arlen but is clearly not quite dainty and feminine enough to compete with Brooks. The Ritzes showiest bit aside from the horse race is a silly wrestling match with the Terrible Turk. One big problem with the Ritz Brothers is that they all look alike and more or less act alike; Harry is usually the Groucho figure, but he only barely stands out from the other two (Al & Jimmy). Arlen and Brooks are a fairly bland couple, though Arlen tries hard. Also featured are George Barbier as Brooks' father, Sidney Blackmer as a gambler, and Lon Chaney Jr. in a tiny part as a chauffer. Merman sings OK, but the songs are undistinguished. [TCM]

Monday, December 26, 2005


This well-regarded but hard-to-find movie is most assuredly not feel-good holiday fare. It's a downbeat film noir which begins on a miserable, stormy Christmas Eve and ends on a less stormy but quite grim Christmas night. Despite the many Christmas trappings during the film's first 20 minutes, it has an appropriately dark look throughout, even in a scene set at a cathedral during Midnight Mass. Even more so than in the average 40's Production Code film, an awful lot of the narrative and characterizations are oblique and reading (or seeing) between the lines is needed for it all to make sense. We begin as new military school graduate Dean Harens, heading off to San Francisco on Christmas furlough to get married, receives a telegram from his intended telling him she's up and married someone else. Harens decides to go on to SF, seemingly to wreck some kind of revenge, but during a ferocious storm, his plane is waylaid to New Orleans where he has to stay the night. A friendly reporter (Richard Whorf) takes the hurt and lonely kid to a night spot which is probably supposed to do double duty as a whorehouse, though of course they could not have made that crystal clear back then. The madam (Gladys George) sets the kid up with Deanna Durbin, a sad-eyed singer, and she asks him to go to Midnight Mass with her. She breaks down crying during "Adeste Fideles" and afterwards, at a late-night diner (and later in his hotel room), she tells him her sad story. In flashback, we see Durbin meet fellow music buff Gene Kelly at a symphony concert. They hit it off and soon he takes her home to meet mother, Gale Sondergaard, a former aristocrat who has hit some bad times. The mother is almost desperately happy that Kelly has shown an interest in Durbin--it seems he's "weak" and irresponsible, and she hopes that between them, they can straighten him out. After they marry, things work for a while, but one night, he kills a bookie and, despite the mother's best attempts, Kelly is caught and sent to jail, which is where he is now. Durbin and Harens part Christmas morning, and Harens decides to leave well enough alone and not confront his former finacee, but just as he is set to leave New Orleans that night, he hears that Kelly has escaped prison. He heads out to the club and is a witness to the final scene with Kelly, waving a gun at Durbin as the police close in.

Durbin is known primarily as a frothy teen star of middling musicals for Universal and many critics say she didn't have the chops for the lead here. I have never seen her in any other film, so I have no preconceptions; I think she seems a bit lightweight for a noir femme fatale, but her casting was certainly not a fatal mistake. In the beginning, she does look appropriately beaten down by life, though she comes off more like a sad waitress than a hooker. Kelly is good playing against type as a smiling, neurotic bad guy, and Sondergaard is even better as a mother from hell. Some critics note the undertones of incest and homosexuality that are present; I certainly caught the weird incestuous tinges in the reciprocated mother-son fixation, but the gay subtext is not as obvious; the only reference I caught was the mentioning of his "weakness" and the mother telling Durbin that, "between us, we will make him strong." The narrative structure is unnecessarily convoluted: the first flashback at the diner shows Kelly coming home to Durbin the night of the murder, and the rest of their story, beginning and end, is told in a second flashback. The shots of the cathedral during Midnight Mass are impressive, and are echoed in the later shots of the concert hall where Kelly and Durbin meet. Harens is OK in what is essentially the role of a passive listener, and Whorf is even better as the reporter who winds up playing a surprisingly large role in the narrative. Based on a Somerset Maugham story, though apparently the details of the characters have been changed greatly for the film. For some reason, this has never been officially released on video which is a shame, especially for noir fans.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


This is my favorite Ingmar Bergman film, and possibly his bleakest. I think it's his most beautiful looking one, with the possible exception of CRIES AND WHISPERS. In this day and age, a brief plot description for this movie might sound like a Bergman parody: on one cold, overcast winter afternoon in a stark Swedish landscape, a minister (Gunnar Bjornstrand) has a crisis of faith when he: 1) is unable to give solace to a suicidal parishioner, and 2) gives the heave-ho to his long-suffering mistress. The movie takes place in an approximation of real time, from the end of his sparsely-attended Sunday morning service to the beginning of an almost completely deserted afternoon service. During the service, the minister notes the "consolation and bliss" that his parishioners should leave with, but no one there looks happy or consoled. Afterward, a farmer (Max von Sydow) comes to Bjornstrand worried that because China has the bomb, the end of the world may be upon us. Instead of offering help, the minister expresses his own doubts about the meaning of life, and a while later, the farmer is found dead from a self-inflicted gun wound. The pastor is also forced to deal with his rather mousy mistress (Ingrid Thulin); their relationship has been dying for some time, and when she writes him a long confrontational letter (which, in a scene with startlingly intimate power, we see read by her directly to the camera), he replies by lashing out at her, agreeing with all of her comments and saying that it's time they broke it off because, basically, she's ugly and he never really liked her much anyway. The film ends as Bjornstrand prepares for an afternoon service to which no one shows up but Thulin. He questions whether or not to go on, and the movie climaxes with a conversation with another suffering individual, the hunchbacked church sexton (Allan Edwall) who talks about physical pain, loneliness, and the suffering of Jesus Christ. The movie ends with the minister beginning the service, but it does not feel like a "happy" ending for anyone. I choose to interpret it in a kind of Samuel Beckett manner: he'll go on, he can't go on, he'll go on. The movie is acted superbly by its entire small cast, which also includes Gunnel Lindblom as Sydow's wife/widow, and the black and white cinematography by Sven Nykvist is never less than stunning, even though the sets are threadbare and the landscape largely empty and forbidding. Maybe not the best Bergman film to start with if you're not already familiar with his work, but certainly one of his great films. [DVD]

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Another movie that doesn't get written up in the reference books, but which is solidly entertaining and worth watching. Adolphe Menjou is a noted opera singer and notorious ladies man, just back from Europe and about to appear in a production of "Don Giovanni." On the ship, he hears a woman sing a snatch of an aria and discovers later that it was Irene Dunne, an aspiring singer. He agrees to tutor her and soon feels she is good enough to open opposite him, which irritates diva (and former lover) Olga Baclanova. He falls in love with Dunne and, ready to renounce his philandering ways, proposes to her; she accepts even though she still has feelings for her ex, Neil Hamilton, Menjou's understudy. On opening night, their first act is an unqualified triumph, but Menjou gets an attack of laryngitis at intermission and she has to go on with Hamilton. We discover later that he is graciously stepping out of the way so she and the understudy can find true love together. It looks like Dunne does her own singing; if not, they've done a very good job with dubbing. She and Menjou are both wonderful; even though he does seem a tad too old for her and would probably wind up making her unhappy, he is still more likeable than the passive Hamilton, so the "happy" ending feels a bit perverse. Cliff Edwards is fun as the opera company's press agent and Roscoe Ates does his usual stuttering shtick as his sidekick. Ernest Torrence is a standout as Menjou's butler, who is given to talking about his boss in the first person plural; he refers to one of Menjou's past lovers as "the red-haired lady who swooned when we kissed her." There is an amusing subplot about a love/hate relationship between an older diva and a male singer whose singing always causes her dog to start barking (she says it's because the dog hates Wagner). Not necessarily a movie to hunt for, but if it shows up again on Turner Classic (perhaps on Irene Dunne's birthday), it's worth catching. [TCM]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Run-of-the-mill Western which shows handsome B-leading man Wayne Morris starting to go to seed. He plays Cole Younger, one of a number of celebrated outlaws from American history. In real life, Cole and his brothers drifted into lives of crime after Union soldiers burned down his family's home and killed his father; they eventually got a kind of Robin Hood/Bonnie & Clyde reputation before they were captured during a bloody bank robbery in Minnesota. Their real story might have made an interesting movie, but this one is essentially total fiction, another in a long line of Hollywood narratives of the era in which a handsome outlaw tries to go straight, is betrayed by old companions, almost put back in jail, but redeemed at the last minute. Here, Morris and his brothers are waiting out their parole time; if they can stay out of trouble a few more weeks, they will be free for good. Unfortunately, as they ride into Cedar Creek, their reputation precedes them and they are run out of town. The chief instigator of bad feelings against the Youngers is ex-Pinkerton Fred Clark, who helped get them behind bars in the first place and resents their freedom. His wife eventually leaves him because he can't put his obsessions behind him, and Clark winds up going to Kate (Janis Paige), the sister of a former compadre of the brothers who herself now heads up a gang of small-time crooks, and gets her to try and tempt the Youngers into pulling off a robbery. Though Morris has the hots for Paige, he resists returning to his old ways, so Kate's gang goes through with the crime, with the Youngers as kidnapped scapegoats. Our boys still prevail and the pardon goes through, so Clark makes one last attempt to stop them with a lynch gang. Unlike in real life, in which the Youngers all wound up dead or in prison, here they escape in a truncated, almost comic ending. Bruce Bennett and Robert Hutton are fine as two of the brothers, Geraldine Brooks has a rather thankless role as Bennett's wife, and Alan Hale is a sheriff who is fairly sympathetic to the brothers. Morris is OK, but getting old and fleshy before his time (at 35, he looks over 40) and isn't as dashing a figure as the part calls for. [TCM]

Monday, December 12, 2005


I saw this in college in the mid-70's at a revival house and remember being quite disappointed. Seeing its stylistic cousin DANGER: DIABOLIK recently made me want to revisit this 60's pop-art comic book film. Though it's not quite a disaster, it's also not as much fun as DIABOLIK; it's not even as much fun as its posters. The movie is set thousands of years in the future when the cosmos has become a peaceful place; war and violence have somehow been banished (the very idea of conflict seems to exist only in the Museum of Conflict), and, as the Beatles once hoped, all you need is love, at least until some nut goes and ruins it all by inventing the deadly Positronic Ray. Jane Fonda is Barbarella, an intergalactic super-heroine who is called upon by the President of Earth to find the renegade scientist Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea) who invented the weapon. Her sketchy, episodic adventures take her first to a planet of odd children who threaten her with mechanical dolls with razor-sharp teeth--they're a little like the scary African fetish doll that goes after Karen Black in the notorious 70's TV-movie "Trilogy of Terror." She has sex with various partners (usually consensually, but rarely with much joy) including the very hairy man who resuces her from the dolls (Ugo Tognazzi) and a nutty inventor (David Hemmings) named Dildano (with a name like that, you just *know* that sex is in the offing). She is flown about by a blind angel (the hunky John Philip Law, star of DIABOLIK) and trapped by an Evil Queen (model Anita Pallenberg, mostly famous at the time as Keith Richards' girlfriend) on a planet which has a core of molten evil, named the Mathmos. She gets tortured on a keyboard-like machine which is supposed to pleasure her to death, but her innocence defies the device. The Mathmos swallows her up, but her innocence causes it to vomit her up, and the angel flies her and the Evil Queen to safety, a somewhat ambigiously happy ending, I guess. The above description may make it sound like trashy, campy SF fun, but it's really kinda draggy. Law is nice to look at, as is Fonda, and the colorful sets and light-show effects may help keep you awake, but otherwise this movie's reputation is quite overblown. [DVD]

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I just finished reading a fairly good book about Vincent Price and his horror movie career ("Vincent Price: The Art of Fear"), and next up on my reading list is the Tab Hunter autobiography, so the arrival of this movie, which co-stars Price and Hunter, from Netflix was fortuitous, though sadly it came too late to include in my October horror-themed blog entries. Technically, this is one of American International's Poe movies, based loosely on, or more accurately, inspired by a poem called "City in the Sea," a lush description of a dead undersea city. The movie is set in a Cornish seaside village; when a girl (Susan Hart) is kidnapped, American engineer Tab Hunter and British artist David Tomlinson go in search of her and wind up sucked down through a small whirlpool into an undersea castle, part of a mostly abandoned city on the sea floor which is currently being lived in by Vincent Price and his band of smugglers. They have been there for over one hundred years, their lives extended through an odd mix of elements in the air (pretty lame reasoning for a plot gimmick which isn't even really necessary to the narrative). Some "gill-men," decayed, Lovecraftian descendents of the city's original occupants, also live there, and one of them was responsible for kidnapping Hart, whom Price believes is a reincarnation of his dead wife. However, a nearby undersea volcano threatens the existence of the city and Price gets Hunter to try and find a way to stave off the inevitable. Naturally, the volcano explodes and our intrepid trio manages to escape at the last minute. The low-budget film looks pretty good--the cityscape, though obviously a miniature or a matte painting, is very cool, the sets are fine, and the color scheme of saturated reds and greens works nicely. Price, playing a Captain Nemo type, isn't at the top of his game, and Hunter, handsome as he is, doesn't give a single line reading that rings true (for that matter, neither does Hart). Most critics don't care for Tomlinson's work here (he's best known as Mr. Banks in MARY POPPINS), but given that it's a comic relief role and nothing else, he throws himself admirably into the part and I think he's actually one of few bright spots in the film, though I did get tired of him carting around his pet chicken. The gill-men are shabby cut-rate versions of the famous Creature from the Black Lagoon and aren't really scary for a second. Nevertheless, the movie does work up some occasionally interesting atmosphere, and the print on the MGM disc is in great shape. The last feature film credit for great genre director Jacques Tourneur. [DVD]

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

BOYS' RANCH (1946)

This MGM programmer seems largely inspired by their own earlier BOYS TOWN, and taken as as a B-movie version, it isn't bad, though the prime era for this kind of film was past by 1946 and it feels a little tired, like everyone's just going through the paces. Still, I guess I have a thing for B-lead James Craig who carries the day here as a smalltime baseball player who, knowing he'll never make first string, retires and heads off with his wife, Dorothy Patrick, to make a living on their Texas ranch. After his last game, two of his teenage fans, Skip Homeier and Darryl Hickman, get busted for delinquency and, rather than see them sent off to reform school, Craig takes legal custody of them and attempts to get them jobs on a nearby ranch. When that doesn't work out, and the boys are about to fall in with a local gang of delinquents, he works out a deal with a landowner (Ray Collins) to set up a ranch for wayward boys that he and his wife will run. They agree to operate it for a one-year trial period before Collins will permanently donate the land; things go well for most of the time, though Skip is a constant pain in the ass to both the adults and the other boys, and soon turns into an accomplished thief. Near the end of the trial period, the boys hold a community rodeo to show how successful the enterprise has been, but when a good chunk of prize money is stolen, all signs point to Homeier and the future of the ranch is in doubt. Hickman, who has been doing double duty to cover up for Homeier's slacking, winds up unconscious in the desert during a heavy rainstorm and Homeier, ready to hit the road with his loot, redeems himself by returning to help save his buddy. Craig and Hickman are particularly good, though Homeier doesn't quite cut it, sounding whiny and childish rather than tough and truly threatening. However, the weakest cast member is the top-billed child actor Jackie "Butch" Jenkins who hit it big as a 6-year-old playing Mickey Rooney's little brother in THE HUMAN COMEDY. At 9, his sleepy-eyed, slow-tongued shtick doesn't wear well and, though he improves has the film goes along, he still slows things down and the film would have played better if his part had been trimmed a bit. Craig grows a mustache halfway through the movie, supposedly to look more authoritative to the boys, but I suspect it had more to do with other films he was shooting. According to IMDb, the concept for the story was based on a real place, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch near Amarillo, which still exists. [TCM]

Sunday, December 04, 2005


This is a delightful little gem, directed by the great George Cukor and co-written by Charles Brackett (SUNSET BLVD., BALL OF FIRE), which has gone quite underrated and should be out on DVD along with most of the rest of the films of its star, Thelma Ritter. Here Ritter plays the marriage broker of the title, eking out a living in the Flatiron Building in New York City by attempting, without the help of today's computers, to match up desperate single people by inviting pairs who might hit it off to sedate Sunday afternoon tea parties at her home. The folks who come to Ritter tend to be homely and lonely, and though the matchmaking is seen humorously, the people themselves are treated sympathetically. The lonely singles include the tall, gawky Nancy Kulp (10 years before she became Miss Hathaway on "The Beverly Hillbillies"), Frank Fontaine doing a slow-witted character very much like his drunken Crazy Guggenheim on "The Jackie Gleaon Show," and Zero Mostel. One subplot involves a woman (Helen Ford) who stole Ritter's husband from her years ago. Now that he's died, she's rich but lonely, she comes to Ritter for help, and they strike up an unlikely alliance. The focus of the plot, however, is on the model of the title (Jeanne Crain) who happens upon Ritter by accident; she's getting out of a relationship with a married man and Ritter, out of the goodness of her heart, tries surreptitiously to hook her up with doctor Scott Brady, who has just stood up the bride with whom Ritter fixed him up. Things go well for a while, but when Crain finds out what's been happening, she resents Ritter's meddling and tells her off, which leads Ritter to question her entire enterprise. There is a happy ending which involves Crain herself becoming a matchmaker for Ritter, but much of the film has a subtle tinge of sadness which makes it stand out from the typical romantic comedy of the era. Ritter is excellent, as she always is, and this is one of the few films in which she has the central role rather than a juicy supporting part. Brady and Crain are attractive and fine in their roles; Brady especially is just quirky enough to be interesting. There are choice bits from character actors Jay C. Flippen and Dennie Moore. This is well worth poring over the schedule of Fox Movie Channel to catch. [FMC]