Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tonight's Movie: The Girl From Jones Beach (1949)

This has been a weekend for "girl" movie titles, starting with WISE GIRL (1937) Friday evening and continuing with THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934) last night. Tonight the weekend drew to a close with THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH, starring Ronald Reagan, Virginia Mayo, and Eddie Bracken. The seaside theme makes it perfect entertainment as the month of August draws to a close.

Bob Randolph (Reagan) is an artist famous for his paintings of "The Randolph Girl," who is actually a composite of a dozen women. Bob is financially strapped and needs a single Randolph Girl in order to land a lucrative TV contract, and PR guy Chuck (Eddie Bracken) spots a perfect candidate, Ruth (Virginia Mayo), on Jones Beach. However, Ruth is a teacher who wants to be appreciated for her mind.

Bob goes to great lengths to become friendly with Ruth in hopes of interesting her in being the Randolph Girl, but Ruth loses her job when she's photographed in her swimsuit without Bob's knowledge. The film climaxes with a courtroom showdown which will decide Ruth's career and her romantic future.

THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH is a fun light comedy. In the early scenes there's a bit too much of Eddie Bracken, whose comedy style I find tiresome, but the two leads are charming and the film tilts toward focusing on them more as the film progresses. The script by I.A.L. Diamond -- who would go on to write several comedy classics -- is above average, including a couple clever scenes where Bob and Ruth toss famous quotations back and forth at each other. The film also benefits from an excellent cast.

The film has two personable supporting actresses, with wisecracking Helen Westcott (THE GUNFIGHTER) playing Reagan's secretary and lively Dona Drake playing Bracken's girlfriend. The cast also includes Lois Wilson and Gary Gray as Mayo's mother and brother. Jerome Cowan, Henry Travers, Florence Bates, and Lloyd Corrigan are also in the film.

The models include Myrna Dell (seen recently in ROUGHSHOD, released the same year), Lola Albright, Joan Vohs, and Joi Lansing.

Watch carefully when Dona Drake meets Bracken at the beach, accompanied by two lifeguards. The lifeguards are Dale Robertson and Jeff Richards (Benjamin in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS).

THE GIRL FROM JONES BEACH was directed by Peter Godfrey. It runs a quick 78 minutes.

This film has not had a DVD or video release, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, where it next airs November 30, 2009. The trailer can be seen here.

Update: This film is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD is here.


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