Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tonight's Movie: They All Kissed the Bride (1942)

THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE is an entertaining romantic comedy starring Joan Crawford as M.J. Drew, the tough head of a trucking company, and Melvyn Douglas as Mike, a journalist who falls in love with her.

It's an amusing film with a number of funny moments. This is probably the most lighthearted character I've ever seen Crawford play. Crawford and Douglas are appealing playing a couple who start out as sworn enemies but are attracted at first sight.

The film has many wonderful character actors who make the most of their roles, including frequent costars Roland Young and Billie Burke (TOPPER, THE YOUNG IN HEART). Nydia Westman is memorable as M.J.'s knitting secretary, and Allen Jenkins and Mary Treen play a trucker and his wife who are Mike's pals.

Incidentally, the bride in the title is not, in fact, M.J., but her sister Vivian, played by Helen Parrish. Pretty, dark-haired Parrish had notable roles in Deanna Durbin's MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938) and FIRST LOVE (1939), among other films. She appeared in roughly 50 films. Sadly, Helen Parrish was only in her 30s when she died of cancer.

There are a number of fun actors buried deep in the cast. Wonderful Ann Doran has a couple very funny moments as Crawford's maid; Larry Parks has a scene as Vivian's would-be suitor; Charles Lane is a hard-edged, snoopy company employee; and Tom Dugan plays a dance contest judge. Neal Dodd, an Anglican priest who conducted weddings in countless movies, officiates at the wedding early in this film.

Carole Lombard was originally set to star in the lead role. After Lombard's tragic death while on a war bonds tour in January 1942, MGM agreed to loan Joan Crawford to Columbia to replace Lombard. (A card at the end notes that "Miss Crawford appears through the courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.") Crawford donated her entire salary to the Red Cross in Lombard's honor.

There is a curious bit of modern-day censorship related to the film. At one point near the end of the movie Crawford says, "When I want a sneak, I'll hire the best..." and the shot of Crawford is abruptly cut off, with the last couple garbled words heard over the jerky cut to an empty room. The sentence originally ended "...and hire a Jap," which is cut from most TV airings, according to the Turner Classic Movies website. While modern viewers might wince at that word, this film was made in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, and it should be allowed to continue to accurately reflect its historical context...all the more so as the film's original leading lady died in a war bonds tour just a few weeks after December 7, 1941.

As TCM correctly notes, there are other things in the film which are frowned on by modern standards. Characters driving while drunk always bother me a little. (And anyway, haven't they been warned by seeing TOPPER?!) Selectively editing the things we don't like in order fit modern standards is simply wrong -- and among other things, such changes rob modern audiences of the opportunity to have an accurate window on an earlier era.

THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE was shot in black and white and runs 85 minutes.

The film was directed by Alexander Hall. Hall comedies previously reviewed here are THERE'S ALWAYS A WOMAN (1938), which also starred Melvyn Douglas; the Loretta Young films THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE (1940) and BEDTIME STORY (1941); and LET'S DO IT AGAIN (1953). Hall's best-known titles include HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941) and the original MY SISTER EILEEN (1942).

This movie was released on VHS but has not had a DVD release. The print shown on cable on TCM was unusually poor, which makes me curious as to the quality of the video release. It would also be interesting to know whether or not the VHS release was censored.

THEY ALL KISSED THE BRIDE provides a most enjoyable evening's entertainment.


Blogger Irene said...

I am absolutely stunned that the library system has this available so it's now on order and I'll let you know abut the editing.

I agree about making movies reflect our times instead of what it really was. This is the problem I have with Disney and their reluctance to release Song of The South. Last night in watching Reap The Wild Wind I felt that was more demeaning then Song of The South. They also did this for a time when televising Bugs Bunny cartoons and leaving out the shooting scenes.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the movie and the print, Irene!

Another example of censorship you probably have read about: Disney digitally removing cigarettes from MELODY TIME. :(

Best wishes,

6:20 PM  

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