Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Three Blind Mice (1938)

Before the musicals MOON OVER MIAMI (1941) and THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE (1946), there was the delectable romantic comedy THREE BLIND MICE, starring Joel McCrea, Loretta Young, and David Niven.

This time around the story doesn't take place in Miami or Atlantic City, but at a resort in Santa Barbara, California. Loretta Young and her sisters, played by Pauline Moore and Marjorie Weaver, are farm girls in search of rich husbands. The likely prospects are Joel McCrea and David Niven. How lucky can a girl get?

The stars are all charming, with special kudos to one of my very favorite actors, Joel McCrea, who rates a real "wow" in this film. The ladies in the audience will understand what I mean when they see his first scene. Loretta is beautiful, Niven is droll, and it's all great silver screen fun.

My only criticism is I felt the relationship between Niven and Weaver needed at least a scene more to develop. I have a feeling they might have had a scene cut out of a dance sequence midway through the film. The movie is quite short, at 75 minutes, and could have stood being just a bit longer.

Some trivia for classic film fans: the year after THREE BLIND MICE, Pauline Moore and Marjorie Weaver played Ann Rutledge and Mary Todd in John Ford's YOUNG MR. LINCOLN.

The supporting cast is headed by Binnie Barnes in a marvelous turn as Niven's giddy sister. (This is the role played by Celeste Holm in THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE.) Barnes is absolutely wonderful, particularly in a scene where she's serving cocktails.

Stuart Erwin is the bartender who catches the youngest sister's eye, and Franklin Pangborn has a scene as a hotel clerk. Leonid Kinskey is one of Barnes's beaus. Jane Darwell and Elisha Cook Jr. are also in the cast.

The California setting lends itself nicely to the story, including a fiesta barbecue scene with marvelous costumes. (Gwen Wakeling was the costume designer.) The sparkling black and white cinematography is by Ernest Palmer, who later photographed the Technicolor remake THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE.

The movie was directed by William A. Seiter.

THREE BLIND MICE can be seen on Fox Movie Channel. (Incidentally, Fox Movie Channel has recently overhauled and greatly improved its website.)

THREE BLIND MICE is a short but effervescent treat for fans of '30s romantic comedy.

2012 Update: THREE BLIND MICE is now available on DVD-R via the Fox Cinema Archives.


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