In the fun WWII comedy PILLOW TO POST, Ida Lupino plays Jean Howard, a woman determined to succeed as a traveling saleswoman for her father's oil well parts company.
While Jean is on the road attempting to make a big sale, the only hotel room available for miles is in a cute little auto court which only rents to married couples. What's tired Jean to do? Quickly come up with a husband, of course! She persuades a nice lieutenant (William Prince) to register as her husband, and chaos ensues from there, as the marital charade escalates.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I was surprised that Leonard Maltin only gave it 2 stars...I'd give it a strong 2-1/2 or even a 3. I think this is the kind of movie which improves with age, other than Willie Best in one of his roles which seems stereotypical from today's vantage point -- but it must be said he did have some funny moments in this. Even a "middling" movie of 1945 looks like a gem compared to so much of the dreck produced today.
From the perspective of 2007, what a treat to see the hugely talented Ida Lupino in a rare comedic role! And what an interesting peek into the culture of the era, from the auto court -- the proofreader in me was amused by the frequently seen auto court sign with "Accommodations" misspelled with a dropped "m" -- to the clothing and music to the firm moral code. Throw in a guest appearance by Louis Armstrong and Dorothy Dandridge, and you've got the makings of a fun movie.
And then there's the cast. William Prince, who had a long-running career in television, is fine as the exasperated but soft-hearted lieutenant. Even better is Sydney Greenstreet as Prince's commanding officer, a hearty believer in married life. Greenstreet's energy pushes the movie up a notch every time he comes on screen, and his final scenes are quite touching, as well. Familiar faces abound, from "Bobby" Blake as the auto court's resident pest to William Conrad as a motorcycle officer and Joyce Compton as a bus passenger. Ruth Donnelly, Stuart Erwin, and Grady Sutton are also in the cast.
Johnny Mitchell, who plays Lupino's tall and handsome potential customer, Slim, also acted under the names Douglass Drake and Douglass Newland before his tragic death in 1951. He adopted the name Johnny Mitchell from a character he played in MR. SKEFFINGTON with Bette Davis and Claude Rains.
PILLOW TO POST runs 92 minutes and was filmed in black and white. The movie was directed by Vincent Sherman, who passed away last year just shy of his 100th birthday. You can read more about Sherman in this post.
PILLOW TO POST is not yet available on DVD, but can be seen on cable on TCM. Vote here to indicate interest in a DVD release or suggest that TCM show the movie.
You can watch the trailer here. It includes a snippet of Louis Armstrong's musical performance.
Ida Lupino movies previously reviewed here at LMM: ON DANGEROUS GROUND, THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT, and THE MAN I LOVE.
November 2015 Update: PILLOW TO POST is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD is here.