Monday, March 23, 2015


In the quaint little village of Heatherdale, Vermont, Jeannie (Vera-Ellen)—and yes, she has light brown hair—is struggling to make ends meet after the death of her Scottish grandfather. She finds out that she has been left a small sum in his will, and though it's only a few thousand dollars, she thinks of it as a fortune and makes plans to take a month-long trip to see her ancestral home in Edinburgh, by way of Paris. On a flight to Europe, she meets cute (sort of) with an inventor from Idaho named Stan (Tony Martin) who is signing a deal to manufacture a combo washing, drying, and ironing machine—as Jeannie notes, "You just press a button for happiness!" He gets her out of a number of minor jams and they (sort of) start to fall for each other until a British Lord named Jimmy (Robert Flemying) comes on the scene; he's one of those lords with a castle but not enough income to take care of it. When she talks about her "fortune," he assumes she's rich and makes a play for her and they (sort of) fall for each other. When Stan sees them making romantic sparks, he tries to make her jealous by hooking up with a busty French redhead (Zena Marshall). How *will* it all turn out?

Predictable as it is, there's nothing wrong with the plot of this grade-B musical that some sparkling performances and fun songs couldn't help. Sadly, very little sparkling fun is to be had here. Vera-Ellen was in her late 30s and is completely wrong for the part of a young naïve girl who passes herself off to Stan as in her early 20s. After her big breakthrough in WHITE CHRISTMAS, her movie career went nowhere—this was her last film—and she apparently had a sad life, suffering for much of her dancing career from anorexia. She dances well but is totally at sea trying to inhabit her character. Tony Martin is an unattractive blowhard; he would have been better cast as the jackass cad. In fact, Flemying as the cad is much more sympathetic than Martin as the hero; he is modestly attractive and charming, and his mercenary interest in Jeannie is not played as sinister; in fact, when he discovers that she's as poor as he is, he comes clean to her, says he's actually fallen in love with her, and keeps his marriage proposal on the table. The songs are bland and the production numbers unmemorable except for one scene in which Jeannie attends a ballet and imagines herself as the lead in a playing card-themed dance. The film was shot in England with what looks like a couple of hours of location shooting in Scotland, including a brief shot of the fabled Loch Lomand. The movie was shot in Cinemascope but the only print available is pan-and-scan, which just adds to the nightmarish qualities of this misbegotten musical. [TCM]

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