Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Philip Dorn and Mary Astor are a married couple who run a fancy restaurant/club out in the Nevada woods not far from Reno—which means a lot of their clientele are people getting divorces. The couple is renowned for their restaurants, but there seems to be trouble brewing: Dorn, who has recently given up a gambling habit, is flirting with Gloria Grahame, a cigarette girl at the restaurant, even though she's dating young hothead Marshall Thompson who occasionally delivers guests to the club on a rickety motorcycle. Astor seems to view this with a certain worldly detachment for a time, but when Dorn wins a $40,000 lottery prize, Grahame doubles down on her gold-digging attempts, so Astor hires Thompson as a waiter, an act which unbalances the teetering triangle. Eventually a gun comes into play, but as this is a comedy, no worries, and no surprises about how things end up.

Based on a play by Ferenc Molnar (most famous for "Lillom" which was turned into the musical CAROUSEL), this is a small B-comedy delight. Unfortunately, the lead actor, Philip Dorn, almost sinks the whole thing: he's too old (he’s only five years older than Astor, but seems much older), too heavy-handed, and frankly, not very attractive. Someone like James Stewart or a B-lead such as James Ellison or James Craig might have made this movie truly memorable. But the rest of the cast is fun. A special credit card notes this as "introducing" both Grahame and Thompson (both pictured above), and the two are very good with sparkling chemistry. It was a surprise to see Thompson, who I think of as the game warden in the 60s TV series Daktari, as young and cute and gangly, a bit like a taller Mickey Rooney. Felix Bressart plays the friendly bartender, and an uncredited Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy have a very funny 30-second scene which seems to have been tossed in as an in-joke of some kind. At one point, Astor refers to Grahame as "a pretty little surrey with a fringe on top" which made me laugh as Grahame would go on to co-star in the movie version of OKLAHOMA (though as Ado Annie, not Laurey for whom the "Surrey" song is sung). I’d watch this one again. [TCM]

No comments: