Tonight's Movies: Just For You (1952) and Here Comes the Groom (1951) - A Warner Archive DVD Set Review
Warner Archive recently released a "double feature" set with a pair of good films starring Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman, HERE COMES THE GROOM (1951) and JUST FOR YOU (1952).
The films were originally released exactly a year apart, with HERE COMES THE GROOM hitting theaters in September 1951 and JUST FOR YOU following in September 1952.
HERE COMES THE GROOM is a black and white film directed by the great Frank Capra, while JUST FOR YOU is a Technicolor film directed by Elliott Nugent. Since I watched the films back to back and they share the same lead actors, I thought I'd break from the norm and discuss these films in a joint review.
George Barnes.) All this plus fave Regis Toomey in a small role as Bing's butler makes for an enjoyable film.
Bing plays a widowed Broadway impresario who has neglected his children, played by Robert Arthur and Natalie Wood. Wyman is the star of Bing's new musical; he falls in love with her and she helps him reconnect with his children, which is complicated when Arthur fancies himself in love with her despite their age difference.
Meanwhile, young Wood wants to get into a girls' school run by Ethel Barrymore, but is concerned her father's show business background will scotch her admission to the high-class establishment.
Although I didn't remember most of the film, when the schoolgirls launched into their song on a picnic it was as though my childhood came rushing back to me. I suspect that scene made more of an impression on me since I was a child when I saw it. Ironically, that song has nothing to do with the film's main characters and could easily have been trimmed to reduce the film's slightly long-ish 104 minutes.
Bing has silver hair at his temples to play a mature fatherly type, who threw himself into work and attaining financial success after his wife's death. His character isn't such a bad guy, and when he realizes his children are growing up and having problems he gets to work reintegrating himself into their lives.
Barrymore gives a warm performance as the headmistress who enjoys verbal parrying with Bing. The cast also includes Herb Vigran, Art Smith, and Cora Witherspoon.
All in all this is quite a pleasant movie, which epitomizes the term "family entertainment."
I reviewed the second film in the set, HERE COMES THE GROOM, back in 2008 and enjoyed returning to it for a second look.
This time around Bing plays a footloose journalist who returns stateside from France with two war orphans (Beverly Washburn and Jacky Gencel) in tow...the only complication is Bing needs to marry within five days to keep the children he wants to adopt from being sent back to France.
He thinks his one-time flame, played by Wyman, is a great candidate to marry him and be the children's mother -- only problem being that she's about to marry her wealthy boss, played by Franchot Tone.
However, Tone has a distant relative, played by Alexis Smith, who is madly in love with him. Maybe Bing and Alexis will be able to engineer things so the right couples end up together and the kids get to stay in their new home...
HERE COMES THE GROOM is the weaker of the two films, attempting to cover way too much ground in a meandering 113 minutes; the movie even takes time out for specialty numbers featuring the likes of Louis Armstrong, Dorothy Lamour, Phil Harris, and Anna Maria Alberghetti. It's quite slow out of the starting gate, with Wyman not appearing onscreen until around the half hour mark.
It's to the film and Crosby's credit that the movie manages to keep his previously commitment-shy character likeable. The film also has a very engaging secondary couple in Tone and Smith; Smith really shines as Crosby and his boss (the very funny Robert Keith) attempt to teach the gangly young woman how to charm Tone. Tone is wonderful in a non-cliched "other man" role, and frankly I feel as though Smith's character might have gotten the better deal of the two leading men!
One of the movie's high points is the Oscar-winning song "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," which was performed "live" during filming by Crosby and Wyman. Wyman has a pleasant singing voice, which is also heard in JUST FOR YOU, and their performance is great fun. The Mercer-Carmichael song, which became an American standard in short order, also serves a dramatic purpose in quickly showing the couple's comfortable rapport so that the audience will root for them to end up together.
The deep supporting cast includes Connie Gilchrist, Adeline DeWalt Reynolds, H.B. Warner, Ian Wolfe, James Barton, and Charles Lane.
All in all, this is a very nice release which will please the stars' many fans. This set is also a good choice for parents to share with their kids.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD set. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website. Please note that initial copies of this set sold at the Warner Archive site will be traditionally replicated (pressed).