Thursday, July 07, 2011

Tonight's Movie: Three Guys Named Mike (1951)

THREE GUYS NAMED MIKE is an engaging romantic comedy set against the backdrop of early '50s aviation.

Marcy Lewis (Jane Wyman), a stewardess for American Airlines, has an enviable life: a job she loves and the romantic attention of not one, not two, but three guys named Mike.

Mike No. 1 is an airline captain, played by Howard Keel; Mike No. 2 is a research scientist, portrayed by Van Johnson; and Barry Sullivan plays Mike No. 3, an advertising executive.

All three Mikes are crazy for Marcy, despite having initially unpromising "cute meets" in each case, and the gentlemen are so nice and handsome that it seems a shame that a girl can only have one of them. But choose she must...

THREE GUYS NAMED MIKE is exactly what it aspires to be: simply fast-paced, fun entertainment with likeable characters and an interesting setting. I love "airplane movies" of all kinds and found the peek into domestic U.S. air travel circa 1951 most enjoyable. I especially enjoyed the brief scenes showing the stewardesses in training -- taught by none other than Barbara Billingsley of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER. The film would make a good double bill paired with COME FLY WITH ME (1963), released a dozen years later.

Wyman's Marcy is a bit of a talkative know-it-all, but she has a good heart and also shows she's capable of listening at times. Moreover, Marcy really does do a terrific job in her chosen career. The men are all handsome, and truth to tell I'm still not quite sure she picked the right one in the final scene. :)

Phyllis Kirk, Jeff Donnell, and Anne Sargent are Marcy's fellow stewardesses.

The music which played over the opening credits was so familiar I could hum along with it. The film's score was by longtime MGM composer Bronislau Kaper. I couldn't quite place the tune, but suspected MGM used it during the credits sequence in other movies. One helpful review at IMDb offered the information that the theme was named "Confetti" and confirmed MGM used the music again. Further digging led me to a Film Score Monthly discussion board where I finally realized why I knew the music so well: it was used as part of the score of Kaper's LILI (1953), which I have owned on LP since I was a teen. I also located another title which used "Confetti": FOREVER, DARLING (1956) with James Mason and Lucille Ball. It turns out it's even available for download, as recorded by Johnny Green and the MGM Studio Orchestra; I just bought it and added it to my Soundtrack playlist.

Director Charles Walters is a longtime favorite of mine; as I wrote a couple of years ago, he had a real knack for turning out consistently entertaining movies. I wrote about meeting him in my review of THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952).

The screenplay was by Sidney Sheldon, who also had a bit part as Rudy. The story by Ruth Brooks Flippen was based on ideas by stewardess Hazel "Pug" Wells.

The black and white cinematography was by Paul Vogel. The movie's running time is a just-right 90 minutes.

Curiously, this MGM movie seems to have fallen into the public domain at some point, as it's had multiple releases on both DVD and VHS, such as this DVD from the Roan Group.

It can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies, where it will next be shown on August 30, 2011. That's the day devoted to the films of Howard Keel in TCM's annual Summer Under the Stars Festival.

The trailer is available at TCM. And as it happens, the trailer provides a nice sampling of the "Confetti" theme music discussed above.


Blogger TruthandConsequences said...

As it's fallen into the public domain as you noted, the full movie can be watched at ...

6:35 PM  
Blogger Audrey said...

Oh man, I kind of hate it when there are too many guys--and they all seem about equal. The aviation angle has my curiosity piqued, though, so I may have to try to hunt this one down. I love that colorful picture of Wyman on the top right.

By the way, I just wanted to mention that one of your reviews linked and lead me to a film I saw when I was younger and have been trying to remember the name of--*I'd Climb the Highest Mountain*. I was so glad to finally find it, and just today I saw it and it was as delightful as I remembered. I will be reviewing it on my blog soon. I just wanted to thank you for helping me track down the title. It can be so frustrating to remember snippets of a movie from childhood and not know what it's called!

6:43 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the info on another way to see the film!

I hope you enjoy this one if you get a chance to try it, Audrey! I'm so delighted to know I was able to help you find I'D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN and that you still enjoyed it. I'll be looking for your review!

Best wishes,

6:58 PM  

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