Sunday, December 15, 2013

Film Classics of the 20th Century

So far in this series, we've looked at, When Harry Met Sally . . .,  Who Done It?,  That Darn Cat!,  Cactus Flower,  Family Plot, House Sitter,  and Outrageous Fortune.   Film classics are the films that grab you, even on repeat viewings, especially on repeat viewings.

movie montage

In a voice over, Barbara Stanwyck declares, "From my living room window as I write, I can look out across the broad front lawns of our farm, like a lovely picture postcard of winterey New England.  In my fire place, the good cedar logs are burning and crackling.  I just stopped to go into my gleaming kitchen to test the crumbling brown goodness of the veal cutlets a la Connecticut in my oven.  Cook these slowly . . ."

And while she's describing what she sees, the camera's showing that she's in a small, NYC apartment.  But that's not how it starts.

It starts with a German U-boat attacking an American ship.


Sailor Jeffrey Jones (Dennis Morgan), stranded for 18 days on a raft, dreams of food.


In the Navy hospital, nurse Mary Lee (Joyce Compton) reads him the food columns of Elizabeth Lane and then gets the idea to arrange for Jeff to have Christmas with the Lanes.  Mary Lee knows Lane's boss because she nursed his granddaughter when the child had measels.


The boss is publishing magnate Alexander Yardley (Sydney Greenstreet -- a long, long way from the heavies he played in the film noir classics The Maltese Falcon and Flamingo Road).


He calls Elizabeth's editor Dudley (Robert Shayne) to insist that he and Lane meet him at 4:00 p.m. to discuss her entertaining the war hero Jones.


Dudley needs to warn Elizabeth.


But she's already bought an expensive mink and it's been delivered.  She can't lose her job now or risk Dudley losing his.


She can't cook, she has no farm, she has no child, she has no husband.

But she has Felix (S.Z. Sakall).


Her friend who can cook and will pose as Uncle Felix.

So what can go wrong?

Besides, her sometimes beau John Sloan, who's been proposing to her for some time, is willing to marry her right away and that will take care of the marriage and the Connecticut farm since he owns one.

This is their first (failed) attempt at immediately marrying.


This is a baby she'll pass off as her own.


And this is Macushla, the cow.


There will be singing and tree decorating.




And walks in the snow.





Sleigh rides.


And spying too.


And though she's supposed to be marrying the stuff-shirt Sloan . . .


It's Jeffrey Jones she can't stop thinking of.


She comes clean with her publisher.


But Mary Lee arrives to see her fiancee Jeff.  Elizabeth realizes she's lost the man that was never hers to begin with.  She tells him,  "In case I don't see you again, Mr. Jones.  Goodbye it was certainly an experience knowing you."

But he doesn't want Mary Lee and, it turns out, Mary Lee arrived to tell him she'd just married his shipmate.

So it can all end happy.


Directed by Peter Godfrey, this 1945 film was written by Aileen Hamilton, Adele Comandini and Lionel Houser. It contains some of the best chemistry in any Barbara Stanwyck film, she and Dennis Morgan make a great team.

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