Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Edith (divorced) and her 12-year-old daughter Brenda have come to spend Christmas at a winter resort; arriving at the same time is Stephen (widowed), soon to be joined by his 12-year-old son Tommy. Stephen and Edith had a nasty encounter earlier in their cars, so when the road is blocked temporarily by snow, they are not happy to discover that they are the only two in the entire lodge. A huge dinner is prepared for them and a large band plays while Mr. Snirley, the recreation director, and Miss Peabody, the hostess, work hard trying to get the two together. In order to get away from Snirley and Peabody, Edith and Stephen go for a walk and soon discover that they like each other's company. Unfortunately, Brenda is prejudiced against men and when the roads clear up and Tommy arrives, the two children plot to keep Edith and Stephen apart.

The first half-hour of this romantic comedy trifle is charming. Mary Astor and Melvyn Douglas are both working at about half-speed, but that's really all that’s really required at this B-movie level. Dorothy Stickney (who played Mother on Broadway in the big hit Life With Father) is wonderful as Peabody, and Romaine Callender gives a light campy touch to Snirley. Donald Meek is his usual harassed self as the lodge manager. But when the children (Edith Fellows and Jackie Moran, both giving below-average performances) take center stage, the movie changes tone, becoming slapsticky and mean—there's an awful lot of physical violence, albeit mild, against the little girl that doesn't sit well. By the end, when the action has moved to Manhattan, the movie collapses into unbelievable B-movie screwball antics, and I very nearly turned it off with only ten minutes left. 11-year-old Douglas Scott steals his scenes as a mama's boy named Horace, especially in a scene in which he tries to take credit away from Moran for spitting BBs at the guests: "It was I who winged Miss Peabody on her beezer!" Pictured above, from left, are Callender, Stickney, Astor and Douglas. [YouTube streaming]

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