Monday, April 25, 2016


At a company that manufactures shirts for the military during WWII, the female employees, desperate because all the good men are at war, stuff love letters in the pockets of the shirts, particularly the shirts with big neck sizes, hoping to start a correspondence with a hunky solider. Secretary Marsha Hunt, dating her milquetoast boss (Norman Lloyd), is encouraged by her friends to write such a letter, so she does, and it winds up in the pocket of a shirt meant for big-necked, hunky and handsome John Carroll, a notorious womanizer ("Wolf" is his nickname) who tosses her letter away without reading it. But Carroll's friend (Hume Cronyn), a pint-sized mild-mannered fellow, reads the letter and decides to write back, sending a photo of Carroll in a lumberjack outfit to represent himself. What could go wrong? Well, this being a light-hearted version of Cyrano de Bergerac, things do go wrong, but in a comic fashion. When his unit gets stationed in New York, Cronyn goes to visit Hunt, falls for her, and pretends to be Carroll's buddy—which, of course, he is. Eventually Carroll gets wise to the situation and visits Hunt's apartment, sweeping her off her feet and pissing off poor Cronyn who proceeds to get drunk and disorderly before a wrap-up that finds Hunt eventually succumbing to Cronyn's charms (such as they are).

This is light-hearted war-romance fun for most of its running time, carried mostly by the male leads. Carroll (pictured with Hunt) is an underrated B-lead and he's very good here, giving his male chauvinist goon role enough charm so that we genuinely aren't sure whether we want him or Cronyn to win the girl. Cronyn is good too, though his character acts in rather unlikable ways in the last third of the film, when he does a very amusing drunk scene. Many film buffs like Hunt, and she's OK here, but rather run-of-the-mill; I found Pamela Britton, who plays her roomie, to be more interesting. It’s fun to see Lloyd in a non-menacing role at this point in his career when he was probably best known as the villain in Hitchcock's SABOTEUR. Spring Byington has a small role as Cronyn's mother. There are two MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS references (to the Trolley Song and the little ditty that Margaret O’Brien sings that begins, "I was drunk last night, dear mother…") but I don't know why; I guess just an MGM in-joke. [TCM]

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