Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tonight's Movie: The Bride Wore Boots (1946)

THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS is a silly yet agreeable comedy about a squabbling husband and wife. Sally (Barbara Stanwyck) owns a horse farm, and her husband Jeff (Robert Cummings), who writes history books, can't stand horses.

The film is mildly amusing, but the humor never really takes off, and Stanwyck and Cummings don't have much chemistry as a couple married for several years. An added hindrance is that the script makes it a bit hard to understand what drew them together in the first place.

Nonetheless, the film is pleasant company; everything about it looks beautiful, including the black and white photography, sets, outdoor locations, costumes (by Edith Head), and Stanwyck's hairstyles, and it has an excellent supporting cast.

Peggy Wood (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) and Robert Benchley are marvelous as Stanwyck's sly mother and uncle, and their scenes give the movie the fizz it's missing at other moments, whether it's Wood reading a gangster novel aloud to the children (she changes some of the words, so that a character is improbably drinking lemonade), or Benchley giving the children toy guns and promising that they don't have to eat spinach at his house. Little Natalie Wood is one of Sally and Jeff's children.

Diana Lynn plays an irritating Southern belle homewrecker; one of the film's flaws is that it's so obvious Jeff simply needs to tell her to go away and get out of his life. Patric Knowles is the dashing neighbor who wants to marry Stanwyck, and Willie Best plays Joe, the stable hand.

The film's director, Irving Pichel, was also an actor, and he has a nice role in the final minutes of the film as a steeplechase announcer. Pichel, in fact, discovered Natalie Wood; he cast her in a bit role in HAPPY LAND (1943), and he also gave her a great role as the German orphan adopted by Orson Welles in TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1946).

THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS is part of the six-film Barbara Stanwyck Collection in the excellent Universal Backlot Series. The DVD print is beautiful. I've previously reviewed two other films in the set, INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (1937) and ALL I DESIRE (1953). (Update: This film is now also available as a single-title DVD release in the Universal Vault Series.)

It's curious that the DVD box includes a still of a wedding scene with Cummings and Stanwyck which was cut from the film; it might have been a flashback, or perhaps was dropped from the end of the movie.

THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS isn't a top-drawer comedy, but it provides attractive, undemanding viewing. Sometimes, especially at the end of a busy day, sitting down and unwinding with a movie like this seems exactly right.

Update: This film will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in May 2020 as part of a three-film Barbara Stanwyck Collection.

Update: My review of the Kino Lorber Blu-ray may be read here.


Blogger paul said...

This lookd like just the netflixs kind of movie we like. Dont want to own it, but makes a plesant watch. Thanks for the indepthness of your reports. It is kinda tough leaving comments though.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Paul! Glad you enjoyed the review and hope you'll enjoy Netflixing this movie.

Does the difficulty leaving comments have to do with having a Blogger account or typing the letters to prevent spam? Sorry to hear it's posed a problem for you. Unfortunately between Asian spam (which Blogger has created a brand-new spam filter for, yay!) and blog trolls I can't leave the comments section wide open, as I once did -- I need to be able to zap some comments straight to delete or spam so that none of us have to bother reading them. :)

Thanks for your note and I hope you'll enjoy visiting again.

Best wishes,

3:28 PM  
Blogger mel said...

It's a great pity that Hollywood missed a good opportunity to make better use of the exceptional talents of Diana Lynn, especially in musicals. She was an enormously talented piano virtuoso (I have recordings to prove it), she certainly had the good looks which were also an asset, and could have been trained to become an above average actress.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Mel,

Thanks for the reminder of Diana Lynn's musical abilities; I'd forgotten about that. Not sure I've ever heard her play. A very talented woman!

Best wishes,

10:56 PM  

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