Tuesday, January 05, 2010

THE MATING SEASON (1951)

John Lund, a mid-level executive at an Ohio factory, falls in love with a socialite, Gene Tierney, who has fallen on hard times. Despite their class differences, they're committed to making their marriage work. Enter Lund's mother, Thelma Ritter, a tough middle-aged woman who has just lost her Manhattan diner to bank foreclosure. She decides to pay a surprise visit to her son with the idea of moving in with him for a time, but when she finds out he's getting married, she realizes the two should be left alone during what she calls their "mating season" so she doesn't tell him she's in town and instead watches the wedding from a distance. Later, when she does pay them a visit, it's just before a cocktail party they're throwing and Tierney mistakes her for the hired maid. Ritter stays and helps make the party a success. Lund wants her to live with them, but she doesn't want Tierney to have the pressure of a live-in mother-in-law, so she decides to stay "in disguise" as a live-in maid. She and Tierney get along quite well in this fashion until Tierney's own mother (Miriam Hopkins) shows up to stay indefinitely. She's a monsterish pain in the ass, still clinging to her upper-class mannerisms, and sitcom troubles start piling up until it looks like Lund and Tierney are heading for a quick breakup; of course, wise Ritter manages to save the day. This is almost a screwball comedy, in as much as it's almost a comedy of re-marriage, or really a comedy of reconciliation. It's light and fluffy, with a plot that is just a tad bit too convoluted, with a subplot involving Lund's hard-drinking boss (James Lorimer) whom Tierney dumps at the beginning of the film. There's also a funny but uncomfortable moment when the eavesdropping Hopkins thinks that Lund is having an affair with Ritter, not realizing she's his mother. Ritter was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar and she is, as always, very good, carrying the movie all the way. Tierney has a nice light comedic touch and Hopkins provides good bitchy fun. [TCM]

1 comment:

Jim said...

Nice review. I'll look for this one. Ronkers!