Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Janie Gets Married (1946) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

JANIE GETS MARRIED (1946) is a sequel to JANIE (1944), reviewed here at the end of December.

Both films are available as part of a two-film, one disc set from the Warner Archive.

JANIE GETS MARRIED reunites 11 cast members from the original film, with the exception of leading lady Joyce Reynolds, who was replaced in this film by Joan Leslie. It would be interesting to know why the change was made. I like both actresses, and Leslie manages to imbue Janie with the same giddiness of Reynolds' portrayal.

The movie starts with Dick (Robert Hutton) returning from WWII service in Europe and marrying his sweetheart Janie (Leslie). The happy couple live in a quite a gorgeous little house for newlyweds just starting out, but they've still got worries: Dick feels he doesn't have a real job working for Janie's father (Edward Arnold) at his newspaper; Janie doesn't know how to let her mother (Ann Harding) and mother-in-law (Barbara Brown) know they've each gifted the couple with new living room drapes; Dick's old Army pal "Spud" comes to visit and turns out to be a gorgeous gal (Dorothy Malone); Janie's attempt to make Dick jealous with her old boyfriend Scooper (Dick Erdman) misfires; and for good measure, the contrary housekeeper (Margaret Hamilton) puts so much starch in Dick's shirts that they can all stand up on their own!

Things build to a crazy climax when Janie hosts a dinner party for Mr. Stowers (Donald Meek), who plans to buy her father's newspaper. With Dick's Army pals (including Mel Torme!) singing in the kitchen and another newly returned serviceman (William Frambes) sleeping in the bedroom, not to mention Mr. Stowers believing Scooper is Janie's husband, things turn laugh-out-loud funny.

It's an entertaining family comedy, and in fact I think it's a little stronger than the original film. Leslie's Janie is somewhat less manipulative than in the original; instead she's a little lost, trying to grow up and figure out how to manage adult relationships with both her family and her new husband. (Her idea of deciding with Dick whether to stay married every 30 days isn't exactly conducive to confidence!)

Leslie's backed by a strong cast, with Robert Benchley particularly winning as Dick's stepfather, a calming influence for Janie when things get crazy -- though he unintentionally gives her unwise ideas, too! Arnold, Harding, and Brown are all great. Hattie McDaniel as Janie's family housekeeper is seen too little in this go-round, but we do get to watch her once again manage Janie's bratty sister Elsbeth (Clare Foley) better than her own mother!

Costar Dick Erdman is now 93. I was fortunate to see him interviewed at a 2011 screening of CRY DANGER (1951) at UCLA. He appeared on the TV series COMMUNITY through 2015.

JANIE GETS MARRIED was directed by Vincent Sherman and filmed in black and white by Carl E. Guthrie, who also filmed the original movie.

The film runs 89 minutes.

The print has some noticeable streaks and speckles near the end but for the most part it looks fine. Like JANIE, the sound was somewhat muffled; since the films are on the same DVD I'm not sure if it was a disc issue or the soundtracks of these films just happen to be weaker than the norm.

All in all this is a fun little "double feature" set of family comedies with lots of fun faces. I enjoyed my time with the family and wish there were more than two films in the series.

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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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