Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Take a Letter, Darling (1942)

TAKE A LETTER, DARLING is a delightful comedy starring Rosalind Russell and Fred MacMurray.

Russell plays an advertising executive who hires MacMurray as her secretary. As one might expect, complications ensue, romantic and otherwise.

Russell was always wonderful in her career girl roles, and underneath the lazy charm MacMurray has a steely spine which is very appealing. Together they make an excellent team.

Macdonald Carey, in his film debut, plays a much-married millionaire who is reluctant to do business with a woman. Thanks to a mustache, Carey looks quite a bit older than he did when he appeared the following year as the young FBI agent in Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Constance Moore plays Carey's sister, who has her eye on MacMurray.

Robert Benchley is excellent as Russell's partner, who spends all his time in his office playing games. I like Benchley most in his more subdued roles, and this is one of his best; I would have enjoyed it if he'd had even more screen time.

The supporting cast also includes Cecil Kellaway and Dooley Wilson. Kellaway appeared in a much larger role in I MARRIED A WITCH the same year this film was released; Benchley also had a role in that fantasy classic. And of course, 1942 was also a good year for Dooley Wilson, who played Sam in CASABLANCA.

Karin Booth is credited with a bit role as a stenographer. Booth spent the first half of the '40s in bit parts before landing some featured and leading lady roles at MGM and elsewhere in the late '40s and early '50s. Booth's most notable role was as La Darina, the ballerina Margaret O'Brien plots against in THE UNFINISHED DANCE (1947).

The film was directed by Mitchell Leisen, who had previously teamed with MacMurray on HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (1935) and REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940). Leisen had a marvelous touch with comedy, directing classics such as EASY LIVING (1937) and MIDNIGHT (1939), as well as the fun film THE MATING SEASON (1951). While TAKE A LETTER, DARLING isn't on a par with Leisen's very best work, it's quite witty and enjoyable.

This movie runs 92 minutes and was shot in black and white.

TAKE A LETTER, DARLING has been shown on cable on TCM. It has not been released on video or DVD.


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

I would love to see this- I never have. Love the cast and it sounds delightful- thanks for your review!
I am just flabbergasted that there never has been a Fred McMurray set or Rosalind Russell one for that matter.

6:33 AM  

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