Monday, January 31, 2011

Tonight's Movie: A Millionaire for Christy (1951)

A MILLIONAIRE FOR CHRISTY is a mildly diverting romantic comedy, but the bright cast can't overcome the so-so script.

Lovely Eleanor Parker plays Christy, a San Francisco legal secretary sent to Los Angeles to inform Peter Lockwood (Fred MacMurray) that he's inherited two million dollars.

Christy, who's just had her fur coat repossessed, would love to marry a millionaire, but Peter's about to marry June (Kay Buckley) -- much to the chagrin of Peter's best friend, Dr. Roland Culver (Richard Carlson), who loves June himself. And incidentally, Christy can never seem to quite convince Peter she's telling the truth about his inheritance!

Anyone who's seen just a few romantic comedies can guess where all this is going. The movie has some fun moments, particularly when Christy and Peter end up spending the night in a boxcar with a bunch of Mexican laborers. (It's a long story...) Eleanor Parker is quite a sight wrapped in a blanket learning to drink tequila shots! Unfortunately the movie lurches along in fits and starts, with some truly funny moments alternating with sluggish stretches.

Parker plays a giddy character somewhat akin to her role in THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE (1947), although not quite as appealing. I'm a MacMurray fan, but I actually thought Carlson milked more laughs out of his smaller role; however, MacMurray's thunderstruck reaction when Parker kisses him on a beach is priceless.

The movie's plus factors include the use of the standard "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You" as the movie's theme song; I was fascinated to learn Bing Crosby cowrote the lyrics with Ned Washington. Victor Young, who composed the song's music in 1932, also scored the movie.

The film has a nice outdoorsy feel, shot at various locations around Southern California, although I couldn't place any of them; I'd especially love to know more about the restaurant where MacMurray and Parker stop for a few minutes. The La Jolla hotel near the end of the movie is never shown in its entirety, but perhaps it was meant to be the famous Hotel del Coronado.

Parker has a lovely wardrobe by Elois Jenssen -- although I was struck that Christy must hurry in order to catch a 12:00 plane in San Francisco, yet when she gets off the plane in Los Angeles that afternoon, she's wearing a completely different dress and hat! Did she stop off at home to change on the way to the airport?!

Una Merkel is woefully underutilized, appearing only in the opening sequence as Christy's coworker. Their boss is played by Douglass Dumbrille. The cast also includes Chris-Pin Martin, Nestor Paiva, and Raymond Greenleaf.

The movie was directed by George Marshall. The black and white photography was by Harry Stradling Sr. It runs 91 minutes.

A MILLIONAIRE FOR CHRISTY isn't on DVD or video, but it is shown periodically on Turner Classic Movies.

Update: This film is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.


Blogger Evangeline Holland said...

Arg! Why do you do this to me? Every day when I open Google Reader and see a blog post, it's always about a film I just have to see!

3:00 AM  
Blogger VP81955 said...

Not a bad little film, with some nice performances...but from one viewing, it's apparent that by 1951, no one in the industry had a feel for romantic comedy anymore. Had this been made in 1936 or 1941, it likely would have been tighter, faster and funnier.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Gemini730 said...

Thank You for your review of "A Millionaire for Christy". I hope to be able to record this film when TCM shows it in March.
TCM is showing another Richard Carlson film-"Dancing Coed" in March which I also want to record.

11:17 AM  
Blogger StacyD said...

I'm watching this film now and loving it. Parker is terrific in one of her very few comedies. She preferred dramas and is better known for those, but her comedic timing is expert. She won Cosmopolitan's Performance of the Month for this role when the film was released, btw.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for adding your comments, Stacy, so glad you are enjoying it! I'm planning to revisit Parker in THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE soon. :)

Best wishes,

11:14 PM  

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