Friday, August 22, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Girl From Jones Beach (1949) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH (1949) is delightful summertime viewing available from the Warner Archive.

I first saw this film exactly half a decade ago and very much enjoyed returning to it tonight thanks to the Warner Archive DVD. The film's strong cast and I.A.L. Diamond script, combined with a sprightly 78-minute running time, make THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH a most enjoyable romantic comedy.

Virginia Mayo plays Ruth, a schoolteacher who wants to be appreciated for her mind -- but she also happens to have the perfect female body.

Bob Randolph (Ronald Reagan), an artist famous for his paintings of "the Randolph Girl," is in desperate need of a real Randolph girl for a TV contract, but one doesn't exist. A publicity man (Eddie Bracken) discovers Ruth on Jones Beach. She looks just like Bob's paintings -- but how to persuade this lofty-minded young woman to take the job?

Matters grow complicated when A) Bob falls in love with Ruth and B) photos of Ruth in her swimsuit make the papers, resulting in Ruth losing her teaching job for inappropriate conduct. Legal hijinks ensue.

This is one of Mayo's best performances, with some wonderfully funny comedic reactions, while Reagan shows the same charm which had been on display in the romance THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE (1947). They have a couple wonderful scenes bantering back and forth using famous quotations.

A little of Eddie Bracken goes a long way for me, but the excellent cast includes sparkling supporting turns by Dona Drake as Bracken's girlfriend and Helen Westcott (THE GUNFIGHTER) as Reagan's secretary. Westcott plays a sophisticated young woman who has a great way with sarcastic lines. The vivacious Drake is great fun to watch; she should have had a bigger career. Perhaps it wasn't her priority; she married the costume designer Travilla in 1944, and they were married until her passing in 1989.

The cast also includes Lois Wilson and Gary Gray as Mayo's mother and brother. Henry Travers and Jerome Cowan turn up in a courtroom scene in the last few minutes of the movie. Myrna Dell plays a model, and don't miss Dale Robertson and Jeff Richards (SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS) in bit roles as lifeguards! The cast also includes Florence Bates, Paul Harvey, and Lloyd Corrigan.

THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH was directed by Peter Godfrey.

The Warner Archive DVD is a fine print. The disc includes the trailer.

Other Warner Archive releases starring Virginia Mayo reviewed here in recent weeks: PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE (1951), SHE'S BACK ON BROADWAY (1953), and THE BIG LAND (1957). I also highly recommend her in the Warner Archive release FORT DOBBS (1958), costarring Clint Walker, which was reviewed here last year.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.

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