Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tonight's Movie: It Had To Be You (1947)

IT HAD TO BE YOU has a couple of great things going for it: Ginger Rogers as the leading lady, plus a fabulous title song. Unfortunately, for the most part, the film is an annoying, dull mishmash.

Ginger plays Victoria, who -- in a series of amazing gowns by Jean Louis -- leaves a succession of suitors at the altar in scenes that are a forerunner of RUNAWAY BRIDE. While Victoria is on a train trip George, a man in an Indian costume (Cornel Wilde), appears in her sleeper car. Turns out George has been conjured up from her subconscious mind and come to life; the strange thing is everyone can see him, not just Victoria. George refuses to leave Victoria alone. Some of the scenes where she tries to get away from him and he's everywhere she turns, popping out of windows, are a little too realistically nightmarish to be enjoyable.

George is on a mission to help Victoria realize that she hasn't been able to marry anyone because she's in love with someone she met when she was six years old, Johnny, who is also played by Cornel Wilde. Confused?

The movie has some amusing moments here and there but the first two-thirds of the film in particular just drags on. Wilde is quite annoying in a one-note performance as the devilish, obnoxious George, but is more appealing as Johnny. Overall, however, he's too wooden to breathe much life into the movie. Ginger is absolutely gorgeous in this but plays Victoria with a breathy, childlike demeanor; I like Ginger in anything, but I think I prefer her when she's shooting off sarcastic one-liners.

The film comes to a sudden conclusion with no explanation for one character's change of heart; it was as if the filmmakers decided "Okay, we're done now!" I love romantic comedies and I also enjoy fantasies, but this particular one just didn't work very well for me.

The supporting cast includes Spring Byington, Thurston Hall, Ron Randell, and Percy Waram. It was directed by Don Hartman and Rudolph Mate; Mate was also one of the film's cinematographers. This black and white movie runs 98 minutes.

IT HAD TO BE YOU isn't out on DVD or video, but can be seen on TCM.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't care for IT HAD TO BE YOU either at first, and was quite unhappily baffled by what the character of George was supposed to be. But I changed my mind about it 40-odd minutes in, when Ginger sees the basis of her dream in childhood home movies. Cornel Wilde was suddenly so gentle, and the setting of that scene in a darkened room illuminated by the movie screen had an enchantment. I've been quite taken with it since.

2:23 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Carrie Liz,

Thanks very much for visiting and sharing your thoughts on IT HAD TO BE YOU. It's great fun to hear other viewers' takes on the movies I write about.

I did like the last third or so of the movie better, and I think your description of the "home movie" scene was apt. It was a very nice moment.

I was interested to note via IMDb that a pair of sisters played Victoria at different ages in the home movies. Something else fun is that late in the film Ginger had her hair pulled back in a similar style to her six-year-old self in the movie. I thought that was a nice touch. Even when I find a movie more frustrating than the norm, there are usually interesting things to notice. :)

I wonder if I would like it any better on a second viewing, having a better understanding of the plot from the outset?

Please visit and share your thoughts any time!

For anyone else reading this, Carrie Liz has a very nice new blog called CLASSIC RAMBLINGS which is blogrolled on my sidebar under Classic Movie Links. If you like old movies, do check it out. :)

Best wishes,

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, Wilde is the best thing about this one. I found him quite funny here. More often than not, Wilde is an earnest stiff. But he really seems to be enjoying himself here. On the other hand, Rogers' decision to play this using that annoying kid voice is one of the more annoying choices any actor has ever made in a film.

6:39 PM  

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