Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Two Guys From Milwaukee (1946) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE (1946) is one of a trio of films starring Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson which were just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

I've previously reviewed THE TIME, THE PLACE AND THE GIRL (1946), which was released roughly six months after TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE, and I also took a look at their later film TWO GUYS FROM TEXAS (1948).

TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE is one of a handful of what might be called "royalty on the run" romantic comedies, which include THIRTY DAY PRINCESS (1934), PRINCESS O'ROURKE (1943), and the later ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953).

Dennis Morgan plays Prince Henry of an unnamed European country, who decides to "check out" for a day or two at the end of a goodwill tour in the U.S. He wants to see what "real life" is like in the U.S., and he soon finds out thanks to meeting a friendly cabbie named Buzz (Carson).

The prince is strangely unconcerned about the fact that the citizens of his country are about to vote between continuing the monarchy or establishing a democracy; indeed, he wasn't even planning to be home for the election! He might even be relieved at the prospect of being turned loose to live his own life.

The prince falls for Buzz's girl Connie (Joan Leslie), who's attracted to the idea of being in love with a prince, causing heartbreak for Buzz.

Like the later TWO GUYS FROM TEXAS, TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE was cowritten by I.A.L. Diamond, a screenwriter closely associated with Billy Wilder. It's jammed with plot, packing enough story for two movies into its 90-minute running time.

To its credit, the film is fairly unpredictable, especially in the development of the love triangle. Joan Leslie's character is curiously fickle, clearly being more attracted to the idea of a prince than to Morgan himself; it was somewhat rare for Joan to play a character who was a little more ambiguous, not always 100% likeable.

Carson plays a character with more depth than he's sometimes allowed. He's not just a third wheel in this, you really feel his pain at the prospect of losing his girlfriend, and he also has a wonderful scene discussing America and democracy with the prince. That talk, inadvertently broadcast on the radio, leads to Buzz becoming a celebrity himself, as he and the prince almost flip roles in terms of public attention and job prospects.

The cast includes two of my all-time favorite Warner Bros. players of the '40s, Rosemary DeCamp and John Ridgely; DeCamp is so natural and engaging as Buzz's sister, and Ridgely plays an FBI man.

Janis Paige is adorable in a supporting role as Connie's friend Polly. The cast also includes S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, Patti Brady, Tom D'Andrea, Franklin Pangborn, and Francis Pierlot. Lex Barker can be briefly spotted as a movie theater employee.

TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE was directed by David Butler and filmed by Arthur Edeson.

For more on Dennis Morgan, a biographical essay by Laura Wagner of Classic Images is currently available online. I found it touching that following his close friend Carson's early death from cancer at the age of 52, Morgan became a spokesman and fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

I previously reviewed a TCM airing of this film in 2009.

The Warner Archive DVD is a nice black and white print. The disc includes the trailer.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger DKoren said...

I was visiting my parents this last weekend, and they have cable, so my dad and I caught the end of this movie, with the absolutely delightful and unexpected cameos on the airplane at the end. We both started laughing. I would like to have caught this one from the beginning.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's great, Deb! Hope you can check out the whole thing before too long. :)

Best wishes,

8:37 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

I also found out some interesting things from my parents as we watched. I found out that Joan Leslie was my dad's favorite actress when he was a kid, and that Tom D'Andrea lived on the street behind him, and my mom's dad was friends with Jack Carson, and she was at his house a few times (she did not remember anything about Mr. Carson himself, alas, as she was seven or eight at the time). So fun when you find out cool things like that!

1:59 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Definitely very cool!! Kinda like the time I found out Dan Duryea gave my dad a ride on his boat at Lake Arrowheat LOL.

Tom D'Andrea seems like such a "regular guy," it would seem very normal to have him for a neighbor, wouldn't it?

Pretty amazing about the Carson connection! Thanks for sharing these fun anecdotes!

Best wishes,

2:20 PM  

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