Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Twice Blessed (1945)

Identical twin sisters, raised separately, switch places and help reunite their divorced parents. Sounds like THE PARENT TRAP (1961), right? It turns out MGM used a rather similar plot in TWICE BLESSED, an engaging "B" film of the mid '40s. Unlike the Disney film, no special effects were required, thanks to identical twin actresses Lyn and Lee Wilde.

Mary Hale (Gail Patrick), a world-famous child psychologist, has raised her daughter Stephanie (Lyn Wilde) as a sheltered genius; Stephanie has the highest IQ in the nation. Mary's ex-husband Jeff (Preston Foster), a newspaperman, has raised Stephanie's twin Terry (Lee Wilde) as a "normal" girl who loves to hang out with her beau (Marshall Thompson) at the corner drugstore and jitterbug.

When parents and daughters are reunited for the first time in seven years, Stephanie and Terry decide to secretly trade places in order to see how their "other half" lives, with sometimes unexpected and amusing results. The girls also hope to find a way to reunite their parents, who had split over Mary's desire for a demanding career but clearly still have strong feelings for one another.

This is a delightful little movie with a terrific cast. Foster and Patrick are always enjoyable actors, and the Wilde Twins are real talents, adept comediennes who are also skilled dancers. The situations they encounter when they switch places may be predictable, but as portrayed by the twins they're also great fun. It's particularly amusing to see the effect the switch has on the young men in Stephanie and Terry's lives (Thompson and Jimmy Lydon). It's quite a novelty to have such roles played by actual twins rather than the film needing to rely on special effects.

Lee and Lyn Wilde will be 90 years old this October. They appeared together in a number of films, including MGM's PRESENTING LILY MARS (1943), ANDY HARDY'S BLONDE TROUBLE (1944), and TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY (1946); Lyn appeared in several more films on her own. The Wilde Twins married brothers who were musicians.

There's a nice Wilde Twins tribute site which includes a biography, photos, and a review of TWICE BLESSED. It sounds as though the sisters have had rich, full lives filled with family and many interests.

The supporting cast of TWICE BLESSED includes peppy Jean Porter as Terry's friend and Gloria Hope as the calculating woman in Jeff's life. Hope was only in five films, and it appears this was her most significant role. Also be on the lookout for John Dehner, in an early role as a radio announcer, and Arthur Space asking questions on a radio quiz show.

Organist Ethel Smith performs an entertaining routine at a dance. She was also in a couple of Esther Williams films in the '40s, BATHING BEAUTY (1944) and EASY TO WED (1946).

The movie was directed by Harry Beaumont, with black and white cinematography by Ray June. The film runs 76 minutes.

This movie is not available on VHS or DVD. Hopefully a Warner Archive release is in the future! It was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies, so watch for it to turn up again. TCM has the trailer on the TCM website.

7 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

I've never heard of this one. Sounds like fun.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Audrey said...

This sounds like a cute movie! While this type of plot is done a lot, I still find it entertaining!

7:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

It was a cute movie, I hope you both have the opportunity to see it before too long! I love these sorts of little movie "discoveries."

Best wishes,
Laura

7:45 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Those girls sure had energy! Loved the 40s slang and that malt shop.

Ethel Smith is a favourite around here from one of my son's favourites, "Melody Time".

2:11 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I haven't seen MELODY TIME in a long time, I need to revisit that along with some other '40s Disney animation. Had a really good time watching THE RELUCTANT DRAGON a few weeks ago. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

2:25 PM  
Blogger Gregory in San Diego said...

Where do I find a copy of the DVD?

8:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I think you must have skipped reading the last paragraph of the post, Gregory...please go back and check it out. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

12:22 AM  

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