Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tonight's Movie: The Feminine Touch (1941)

THE FEMININE TOUCH is a mildly amusing romantic comedy. Don Ameche stars as a professor who has written a book explaining why jealousy is unnecessary in romantic relationships, and Rosalind Russell is the professor's wife, who desperately wants her husband to demonstrate some jealousy, which she believes will prove he loves her.

Van Heflin plays Ameche's womanizing publisher, who incessantly pursues Russell, and Kay Francis plays the publisher's lovelorn assistant.

It's a slightly strange movie -- complete with a Dali-esque dream sequence -- that goes on a bit too long, but it has its compensations. Long-haired Rosalind Russell is at her most beautiful as the professor's somewhat giddy but devoted wife, and she has a number of amusing scenes. This was one of Ameche's less interesting roles, as the endlessly patient professor, but he's always a pleasure to have on screen.

This was Van Heflin's first role at MGM, and he went on to do a steady stream of films at that studio. One of my favorite Heflin performances of the '40s was in GREEN DOLPHIN STREET.

THE FEMININE TOUCH was filmed in black and white and runs 97 minutes. It was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, whose best-known titles included TARZAN THE APE MAN, THE THIN MAN, and SAN FRANCISCO.

THE FEMININE TOUCH does not appear to have been released on video, nor has it been released on DVD. It can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. (Update: THE FEMININE TOUCH is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.)

The trailer for THE FEMININE TOUCH can be seen at TCM.

Another TCM programming note: FAST AND LOOSE, the Robert Montgomery-Rosalind Russell edition in the Joel and Garda Sloan series, also airs on Monday, August 20th. My post on FAST AND FURIOUS, which starred Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern as the Sloans, includes a link to the trailer for FAST AND LOOSE.


Blogger Terri said...

I love Ros Russel, don't you? If you do, you should read her autobiography...I believe it's called Life is a Banquet.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Terri! I have a paperback I got of LIFE IS A BANQUET back around the time it first came out, and I enjoyed it very much. I'm taping a number of Russell's movies I've not yet seen from TCM today...I should go back and reread the book to tie in with watching them. Thanks for the reminder!

Best wishes,

8:06 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

If you re-read it, I am curious about what she may say about her first film Evelyn Prentice and about her co-stars Myrna Loy and William Powell. She was quite good, even though it was a small part.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

gosh, loophole, didn't realize those were her first co-stars - not a bad way to start a career.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

J.C., I pulled the book down off the shelf -- it was fun to flip through it and see photos of films I've become more familiar with in intervening years. (And I'd forgotten Cary Grant was the best man at her wedding!)

Here's a quote from P. 59 of my paperback edition: "My first assignment was in EVELYN PRENTICE...Powell was a divine man and a great friend. Several epics later, when Myrna was off the lot getting more money, I was put into a movie called RENDEZVOUS with Bill. I felt self-conscious. Powell and Loy...were an unbeatable team, so my first day on RENDEZVOUS, I tried to apologize. 'I know you don't want me, you'd rather have Myrna --' Powell denied it. 'I love Myrna, but I think this is good for you, and I'm glad we're doing it together.' He was not only dear, he was cool. If an actor thought he could get any place by having tantrums, watching Bill Powell would have altered his opinion. I remember a story conference during which he objected to a scene that he felt wasn't right for him. He was at once imperious and lucid. 'It's beyond my histrionic ability to do this,' he said. I thought that was delicious."

She goes on to talk about how she was Metro's backup to Myrna Loy. Myrna lived up the hill from her and Russell says she once joked with Myrna that at night Myrna would roll her rejects down the hill to Russell's house. Loy responded that Russell must have been out the night she tried to roll her PARNELL.

Powell and Loy are among the few actors Russell mentions attending her wedding in Solvang, CA. From her description it sounds as though she was married at Mission Santa Ines, which we visited a couple years ago.


5:14 PM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Thanks- Laura- That was great seeing her thoughts on one of my all time favorite Hollywood teams. She verifies everything I've ever read or heard about Powell and Loy: consumate professionals and wonderful people. We sure could use more like 'em today.

Yea- Dana- I can't think of anyone better to start out with. Not too shabby, eh?

5:25 PM  

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