Saturday, September 03, 2011

Tonight's Movie: The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949)

Tonight was a double bill of silly Dennis Morgan films from Warner Bros., with KISSES FOR BREAKFAST (1941) followed by THE LADY TAKES A SAILOR.

THE LADY TAKES A SAILOR, teaming Morgan with Jane Wyman, was the better film of the pair; its silliness was more grounded in reality, and it also had the better cast, with Morgan and Wyman supported by Eve Arden, Allyn Joslyn, Lina Romay, and Tom Tully. The movie was directed by Michael Curtiz.

Wyman plays Jennifer Smith, who runs a product-testing organization similar to Consumer Reports. Jennifer seems to have it all, with career success and plans to marry her attorney (Joslyn).

Then one day Jennifer is sailing alone off Long Island, and a top secret one-man submarine captained by Bill Craig (Morgan) capsizes her boat. Bill takes Jennifer aboard, but when Jennifer turns up safely after being presumed lost at sea, Bill can't do anything to confirm her wild story of hours spent in a submarine with "Davy Jones," lest he compromise navy security. This causes Jennifer bad publicity and career headaches, and she launches into a determined effort to retrieve from Bill a roll of film she shot which would prove her tale.

It's all pretty lightweight, but the filmmakers and cast do what they can with the material, and it's fairly enjoyable viewing, thanks particularly to the aforementioned supporting actors.

Arden is a delight, especially when she's sweet-talking a man (Robert Douglas) who had promised millions to Wyman's business. Romay is a stitch as Morgan's very "New York" date, nightclub singer Racquel Riviera; she's terrific in a small but memorable role. Tully is also quite good as a glib private detective whose abilities as a safecracker don't ever quite match up to his promises. Joslyn has a relatively small role, but he's always a welcome presence in '40s romantic comedies.

Morgan and Wyman had previously been well teamed in Raoul Walsh's engaging Western CHEYENNE (1947), but this time around their chemistry is fairly flat. They're both excellent actors and comedians, but for the most part it's the supporting players who really make this one fun. Morgan and Wyman spend most of the film bickering and chasing each other, and there aren't really all that many sparks flying between them.

Additionally, the 99-minute running time is a tad long, with the film having a final act after it already feels "done." That final sequence also poses a problem for Morgan's character which isn't resolved before the film ends.

THE LADY TAKES A SAILOR's musical score was composed by Max Steiner. The cinematographer of this black and white film was Ted McCord. The supporting cast includes William Frawley, Craig Stevens, Fred Clark, and Frank Cady.

This movie isn't available on DVD or VHS, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available on the TCM website.


Blogger monty said...

I've seen The Lady Takes A Sailor and I loved it. Well see I love Jane Wyman and Eve Arden so much, that I will love anything they star in by default. Great post Laura as usual.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Monty! The film definitely has a great cast. :)

Best wishes,

11:34 AM  

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