My daughters recently came across HONEYMOON IN BALI while shopping at a used book and DVD store which recently opened in Orange County. They thought I'd want to see it, since I've become a Fred MacMurray fan, and they were right. :)
I was surprised I'd never noticed a DVD listing for this film. It's had multiple DVD releases so I'm curious whether it fell into the public domain. The copy I bought was put out by a Canadian company, Front Row Entertainment, in 2001. The black and white print wasn't crisp, but it wasn't bad, either -- I've watched many movies with prints in far worse shape. This was a nice find, especially given that it was in brand-new condition for just a few dollars.
The film itself was agreeable, although it could have been better. Gail (Madeleine Carroll) runs a New York department store. She falls in love with Bill (MacMurray), but doesn't want to give up her career and her independence in order to move to Bali, where Bill works for a cocoa company.
Matters are further complicated when Bill becomes the guardian of a colleague's little girl, Rosie (Carolyn Lee). Meanwhile Eric (Allan Jones), an opera singer, would like to marry Gail, and Noel (Osa Massen), a woman from Bali, has her eye on Bill. It takes every last one of the film's 99 minutes to untangle all these complications for the requisite happy ending.
The film is pleasant company, with both strong and weak points. MacMurray and Carroll, who worked together several times, have good chemistry. I enjoyed Gail's constant exclamations of "For Heaven's sake!" when she doesn't know how to respond to Bill.
The cast, which includes wonderful Helen Broderick as Gail's best friend, is for the most part excellent. Jones plays a nice chap in the Ralph Bellamy mode, and he adds some musical moments to the film. Astrid Allwyn is personable as a restaurant fortune teller in a key scene, and Akim Tamiroff has a fun role as an observant window cleaner whose scenes bookend the film. Charles Lane has a one-scene part as a photographer, and Monty Woolley has a similarly brief appearance as a publisher.
I did think Carolyn Lee, who was all of three years old at the time, was a weak link as Rosie. To some extent it wasn't her fault as she was given some awful dialogue. And she was so little, with so many lines, that they all tended to be shouted in the same tone of voice. It was a lot for a child that young to handle, and it would have been much better had she been used more sparingly.
However, there is a lovely scene in which Gail teaches Rosie to pray and tells her about the Lord being in her heart; sadly, a sincere religious moment like this is almost surprising to the modern viewer. The scenes drawing out Gail's maternal instinct are some of the film's best moments.
The script has some creative devices, such as the window cleaner, but MacMurray's Bill is overly aggressive, and the film would have been stronger if Bill and Gail didn't spend so much screen time battling or apart. A little more romance would likewise have been welcome.
Despite the film's flaws, it's a nice diversion for those who enjoy the cast.
HONEYMOON IN BALI has been shown on television under the title MY LOVE FOR YOURS.
It was directed by Edward H. Griffith, who reunited with MacMurray, Carroll, Broderick, and Lee to film VIRGINIA in 1941. Griffith also directed MacMurray and Carroll in CAFE SOCIETY (1939) and ONE NIGHT IN LISBON (1941). Griffith also worked with Carroll on SAFARI (1940) and BAHAMA PASSAGE (1941).
Unfortunately, MacMurray and Carroll's films were for Paramount, and that studio's films are relatively hard to obtain. However, TCM is expected to show a greater number of Paramount films in coming months, or even release some Paramount titles in their new DVD program, so hopefully at some point more MacMurray and Carroll films will be available for viewing.
More films directed by Edward Griffith which have been reviewed here previously: ANOTHER LANGUAGE (1933), NO MORE LADIES (1935), CAFE METROPOLE (1937), and THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943).