Sunday, May 22, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Susan Slept Here (1954) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The Warner Archive has a dazzling winner with its Blu-ray release of SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954).

SUSAN SLEPT HERE is a real favorite of mine, first reviewed here back in 2009. I've seen it a couple of times since then, including today, and it's one of those movies that continues to improve on further acquaintance.

To my mind, SUSAN is one of the most visually attractive movies ever made, and it looks absolutely stunning thanks to this new Blu-ray. Scene after scene is filled with eye-popping color -- which goes well with what is at times a jaw-dropping storyline!

One Christmas Eve in Hollywood, screenwriter Mark Christopher (Dick Powell) is surprised when a couple of cops (Herb Vigran and Horace McMahon) drop off a 17-year-old "juvenile delinquent" named Susan (Debbie Reynolds).

The cops don't want Susan to spend Christmas in jail, and they know Mark is looking for story material, so naturally they decide his apartment is the perfect place to stash Susan for a couple of days. (Yes, it's completely crazy...just like the rest of the movie...so just go with it!) Before Mark knows what hit him, he's ditching his gorgeous but chilly girlfriend Isabella (Anne Francis) in order to marry Susan "in name only" and make sure she never goes to jail.

Although Mark leaves town immediately after the ceremony, ultimately planning on an annulment, he was awfully anxious to marry her in the first place...and Susan is head over heels for Mark, determined to stay married to him for keeps.

The plot would never sell today, but the charming cast does a wonderful job. Powell's rueful been-around sarcasm contrasts wonderfully with Reynolds' effervescent Susan, and Powell's got some great quiet moments where it registers clearly on his face that Susan is just what he needs to shake up his life. Reynolds is a delight as she dives into Mark's home and life.

In addition to Francis, who has some hilarious phone call scenes with Reynolds, the great supporting cast includes Powell's '30s comrade from Warner Bros., Glenda Farrell, as his secretary and Alvy Moore as his Navy buddy turned gofer. Les Tremayne plays Powell's attorney, and Rita Johnson has a terrific scene as Tremayne's psychiatrist. Maidie Norman is charming as Powell's good-natured housekeeper.

Beyond the cast and a good script, not to mention a crazy dance/dream sequence, the movie has fabulous set design; Mark's apartment is pure eye candy, from the white Christmas tree with its red ornaments, to the fish tiles on the patio wall and the porthole window on the oven. Everywhere one looks in the apartment there's something else attractive to check out, from the Christmas cards to the stand mixer to the radio. Anyone who loves mid-Century design has to see this movie.

SUSAN SLEPT HERE was directed by Frank Tashlin. It was filmed by the great Nicholas Musuraca. The movie runs 98 minutes.

The SUSAN SLEPT HERE Blu-ray is a very highly recommended purchase. The Blu-ray includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.

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