Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Free and Easy (1941)

FREE AND EASY is an enjoyable 56-minute MGM "B" movie with an "A" cast.

Robert Cummings and Nigel Bruce play a poor father and son who appear well off but are looking for wealthy women to keep them in the style to which they'd like to stay accustomed. Cummings falls in love with elegant widow Ruth Hussey, only to learn that she's also poor and looking for a rich husband.

Cummings is ready to give up his dreams of a comfortable life and go to work if Hussey will marry him, but then his father has a financial crisis. Cummings consequently feels a sense of duty to marry a wealthy woman (Dame Judith Anderson) who loves him instead of marrying his true love.

Reginald Owen and Tom Conway (George Sanders' brother) play Hussey's suitors, while Sir C. Aubrey Smith plays Anderson's doting father.

It's a short, sweet little movie which zips by in a flash. The film is particularly distinguished by Anderson's marvelous portrayal of a kind woman who knows Cummings is attracted by her money and loves him anyway.

Otherwise, Hussey is regally lovely, and it's fun to watch the parade of some of Hollywood's best doing their thing.

Hussey's gowns are by Dolly Tree. One of the dresses is rather unfortunate, looking as though she's sprouting wings in the wrong places, but then on the other hand she gets to wear the dazzling number seen in the photograph above.

The film was directed by George Sidney, who was a couple of years away from breaking into "A" movies with musicals such as THOUSANDS CHEER (1943), ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945), and THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946).

The movie was based on a play by actor-writer Ivor Novello. The storyline somewhat calls to mind THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938), about a family of grifters who find ways to support themselves at the expense of the wealthy.

The play was previously filmed as BUT THE FLESH IS WEAK in 1932, with Robert Montgomery in the lead role and C. Aubrey Smith starring as his father. Confusingly, Montgomery also appeared in an unrelated film titled FREE AND EASY in 1930.

FREE AND EASY can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer is available here.


Blogger becca said...

I've been wanting to see this movie for some time. (I actually have it recorded - just haven't watched it.) It's good to know that you enjoyed it. Now I'm looking forward to seeing it even more!

1:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I know the feeling, Amanda, I've lost track of how many films I've recorded which are still waiting for me to see. But it's fun to know there's always more "good stuff" ahead to watch! I hope you'll enjoy this movie too.

Best wishes,

1:39 PM  
Blogger becca said...

Agreed! I have about twenty films to watch right now, and with all the Robert Taylor movies playing this month, that amount seems like it's about to double.

I feel pretty confident that I will like it, if only for the reason the Hussey is one of my favorite actresses!

- Amanda

5:13 PM  

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