ELOPEMENT is a fun spin on 20th Century-Fox's string of collegiate-themed films of the late '40s through mid-'50s.
Jacqueline "Jake" Osborne (Anne Francis) graduates at the head of her college class and plans to head for Sweden to study industrial design. At her graduation dance, Jake and her psychology professor, Matt Reagan (William Lundigan), confess their secret love for one another, and they decide to elope.
Jake's parents (Clifton Webb and Margalo Gillmore) are stunned, and they take off in hot pursuit of the couple, along with Jake's visiting godfather (Reginald Gardiner). Matt's parents (Charles Bickford and Evelyn Varden) end up along for the ride; initially the parents quarrel, but by the time they catch up with Matt and Jake, the parents are all in support of the marriage. But Matt and Jake may be having second thoughts...
ELOPEMENT is one of those relatively unsung little films which isn't a classic but succeeds as a very enjoyable 82 minutes of family entertainment. The script is well-paced and has some nice bits -- a scene near the end with Jake and her parents is especially well done -- and everyone in the cast makes a strong contribution.
Beautiful young Anne Francis was 21 when she filmed ELOPEMENT; her leading man, William Lundigan, was 37. Both are highly appealing as the young lovers; Lundigan's Matt is so handsome and thoughtful that it's very clear why Jake would want to marry him!
The four actors playing the parents are all quite good; I especially enjoyed Margalo Gillmore as Jake's mother. Webb's sly final line, referencing another of his films, must have been a guaranteed crowd-pleaser back in 1951.
The year after ELOPEMENT, Webb and Francis again played father and daughter in the amusing Fox college-set comedy DREAMBOAT (1952).
Reginald Gardiner steals the movie as Jake's tolerant godfather, who offers droll commentary and a voice of sanity as the couple's parents react to news of the elopement.
ELOPEMENT has the typical classy early '50s Fox production values, including atttractive black and white photography by Joseph LaShelle. Webb's character is a famous architect and industrial designer; the film's unique art direction was by Lyle Wheeler and Richard Irvine, with set decoration by Paul S. Fox and Thomas Little.
Tommy Rettig plays Lundigan's little brother, and J. Farrell MacDonald and Julia Dean play a kindly farm couple. The cast also includes Frank Ferguson, Norman Leavitt, Robert Foulk, and Howard Price.
ELOPEMENT was directed by the underrated Henry Koster, whose credits include the Christmas perennial THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947). Koster's THE UNFINISHED DANCE (1947) will be released this week in a remastered print from Warner Archive.
Previous reviews of films directed by Henry Koster: THREE SMART GIRLS (1936), ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (1937), THE RAGE OF PARIS (1938), THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939), FIRST LOVE (1939), IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941), THE LUCK OF THE IRISH (1948), COME TO THE STABLE (1949), NO HIGHWAY IN THE SKY (1951), and THE POWER AND THE PRIZE (1956).
ELOPEMENT can be seen periodically on Fox Movie Channel.
2012 Update: ELOPEMENT is now available on DVD-R via the Fox Cinema Archives.