Saturday, July 24, 2010


Imagine the British making an Astaire/Rogers movie, except the leads are a respected character actor not known for singing or dancing and a German actress who never made another film in English. And all on a B-film budget. Actually, it turns out to be a charming little movie, even if the musical aspect of it feels a little half-baked. Grete Mosheim is a young woman who lives with her working-class family and indulges in wistful window-shopping for things well out of her price range. At a car dealership, she makes a big fuss over a white Rolls-Royce which she's told is not for sale as it's just been sold to John Mills, the wealthy son of a musical instrument manufacturer. But Mills, smitten with Mosheim, pretends to be a car salesman and tells her she's won the car in an advertising giveaway. When he finds out she can't drive, he offers to be her chauffeur. Things get more complicated when he learns she works at his dad's factory. Trying to woo Mosheim while keeping his identity a secret, he has his friend (Jack Hobbs) pose as him, but she starts to fall for the friend as romantic games ensue. As in an Astaire/Rogers movie, the two eventually overcome all the mix-ups to fall in love; in the last scene, they leave in their Rolls-Royce, which, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, takes off into the sky! Mills, though not known for romantic leads, can really do no wrong, and though he’s not a slick song-and-dance man, he's charming, and his first number, sung as he dances through the musical instrument factory, is fun. Mosheim is serviceable but can’t quite nail down the effortless whimsy needed for the role (if my paradoxical metaphor makes sense). Robertson Hare plays the older male foil, the Edward Everett Horton character. The title song, played frequently, sounds a lot like "Shuffle Off to Buffalo." A pleasant little surprise, and one that gives me even more respect for John Mills. [DVD]

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