Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Thornton Sayre (Clifton Webb) is a mild-mannered and respected professor of English at Underhill College. However, he has a secret in his past that he has kept from his students and colleagues: years ago, he was a famous silent movie star named Bruce Blair, aka Dreamboat. But now the movies he made with his famous co-star Gloria Marlowe (Ginger Rogers) are being broadcast on television in prime time on the Exotic Perfume Hour, hosted by none other than Marlowe. His daughter Carol (Anne Francis) discovers the connection and is horrified, as is Sayre, as are his colleagues—though Dr. Coffey, the college president (Elsa Lanchester), admits privately that she's always had a crush on Dreamboat. To save his reputation, Sayre takes off to New York with his daughter to stop the show from being aired. Marlowe claims she needs the show because she's broke, but when Sayre finds out that's a lie, he files an injunction to stop his movies from airing. Meanwhile, young and handsome TV executive Bill Ainslee (Jeffrey Hunter) squires Carol around town while her dad is occupied and soon they're dating. Then Dr. Coffey shows up and puts the moves on Sayre, and when he rejects her, she fires him. In court, Sayre claims the movies have been re-edited to make him look ridiculous—which they have—and he wins the suit. But Marlowe has one last plan to set in motion…

This is a cute comedy, and especially interesting for being an early indictment of television as a conduit of idiocy, but as far as I'm concerned, there's a big obstacle to total enjoyment: Webb (who was over 60) plays his younger self in the silent movie clips, and he can't really pull off the romantic swashbuckler type. Rogers (only 40 at the time) is more believable. It's not a fatal flaw, but given that Webb actually was in a handful of silent films, it's too bad they couldn't have used actual footage of him from that era. Otherwise, Webb is very good, as is Rogers. The Francis/Hunter storyline feels tacked on, but it's pleasant to watch these two beautiful people (pictured above) go through their romantic comedy paces, mild as they are—Hunter thinks Francis is a small-town "museum" type, and she has to show him that she's not. Harmless fun. [FMC]

No comments: