Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Keep Your Powder Dry (1945)

I was inspired by Raquelle's tribute to Susan Peters at Out of the Past to pull my videotape of KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY out of the cupboard and watch it tonight. I recorded it from TCM some months ago but hadn't yet caught up with the movie, despite my great interest in the cast. (So many movies, so little time!)

The movie stars Lana Turner, Laraine Day, and Susan Peters as three women from very different backgrounds who join the WACs (Women's Army Corps) during WWII. Turner is a trust fund baby trying to prove she deserves to be awarded her inheritance; Day is a know-it-all Army brat; and Peters is the tender-hearted newlywed bride of a soldier. Turner and Day's characters clash immediately, while Peters plays peacemaker. Agnes Moorehead, Lee Patrick, and 19-year-old June Lockhart are fellow WACs.

Although some brief reviews I'd read indicated the film was no great shakes, my daughter and I found it quite entertaining. It would be hard to make a dull movie with those ladies on the screen! All three lead actresses do a good job with the material, which does include a few hokey lines now and then. The film has a nice mix of glamour (Turner's stunning introduction must have wowed G.I.s all over the world), humor (a couple laugh out loud moments), patriotism, and pathos. This is a movie I'll enjoy viewing again in the future.

In the superb book LANA: THE MEMORIES, THE MYTHS, THE MOVIES, Lana Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane, said her mother and Laraine Day did not get along making this film -- another reference source indicates top billing may have been a source of tension -- but that years later, when Day was Mrs. Leo Durocher, they were part of the same social set and became friends.

I'd previously seen Susan Peters in her Oscar-nominated role in RANDOM HARVEST, as well as in SANTA FE TRAIL, THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE, and MEET JOHN DOE; I don't recall her in the latter two roles, which seem to have been bit parts. Peters had a tragic life, as recounted by Raquelle in her post at Out of the Past; I wrote a bit about Peters' accident and her husband, director Richard Quine, in a 2007 post on Quine's film IT HAPPENED TO JANE (1959). Peters was a lovely actress, and her accident and early death were a great loss to films.

This black and white film was directed by Edward Buzzell. It runs 93 minutes.

KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY is not on video or DVD, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies

TCM has two trailers available to view online; the first advertises the film as a drama, and the second sells the film as a comedy.

Summer 2010 Update: KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY is now available in DVD-R format from the Warner Archive.

May 2017 Update: My review of the Warner Archive DVD has been posted.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Thank you for watching and reviewing this movie Laura. I had a feeling that you would like it. It can be a little sentimental, but it is very enjoyable.

You have the Lana book?! I need a copy of that :-).

10:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm very glad you prompted me to pull this one out, Raquelle! It was perfect viewing at the end of a busy Saturday.

The Lana book is fabulous -- one of the nicest film books I own (and I admittedly own a lot, grin). Leonard Maltin, who is also no stranger to film books, called the book "one of the best books about a star I’ve ever read." The Amazon price ($26.60) was surprisingly affordable given the book's heft (400 oversized pages) and high quality reproductions of unique photographs.

(While I'm at it, I also recommend Jeanine Basinger's book on Turner from the Pyramid Illustrated History of the Movies, and Lou Valentino's FILMS OF... entry from Citadel.)

10:59 AM  
Blogger NoirGirl said...

Great review, Laura. I have seen this film, but it's been awhile. I remember that intro scene you referred to with Lana Turner. It's really something!

Thanks for the Lana recommendation, too. I was hesitant to buy it, but I think I'll get it now. :)

12:38 PM  

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