Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tonight's Movie: The Admiral Was a Lady (1950)

Tonight's Netflix movie was an Alpha DVD of a cute public domain film, THE ADMIRAL WAS A LADY.

I enjoyed this little comedy, originally released by United Artists, which is performed with enthusiasm by a strong cast. It has a better-than-average script with some genuinely funny lines and bits of business; it's a feel-good movie which leaves the viewer smiling at the end.

Jean Madison (Wanda Hendrix), a former WAVE, meets a group of veterans in line at the unemployment office. The men, played by Edmond O'Brien, Richard Erdman, Steve Brodie, and Johnny Sands, take Jean under their wing when they learn she's been stood up by her fiance Henry; after entertaining her for the day they plan to put her on the bus to her hometown, Walla Walla.

Jean, whom the men dub "the Admiral," is confounded by how hard they work to stay unemployed. Along comes Peter Pettigrew (Rudy Vallee), the Juke Box King, who threatens to make the men get jobs -- horrors! -- if they don't help him get Jean and Henry back together; it seems Peter's ex-wife Shirley (Hillary Brooke) has a crush on Henry, and Peter needs to remarry Shirley himself because she's got all his money. The men are to keep Jean from getting on the bus to Walla Walla at all costs.

If that all sounds a bit crazed, well, it is, and that's only the beginning. It all makes sense, in its nutty way, as the story unfolds. The entire cast seems to be having fun, and there are some sweet and touching moments along with the laughs. I had a good time watching it.

Edmond O'Brien's Jimmy is the ringleader of the merry group of unemployed vets; they survived a plane crash during the war, and now Jimmy, a former businessman, continues to feel deep responsibility toward his crew. It turns out there's a method to his madness in keeping them unemployed and happily surviving on very little money. It's an interesting take on vets readjusting which has some serious undertones along with the humor.

O'Brien is well matched by Hendrix as the small but mighty Admiral, who's torn between reuniting with Henry, trading him in for Jimmy, or chucking both men for the bus to Walla Walla.

Rudy Vallee is quite amusing as he describes his love and admiration for his mercenary Shirley. He was really a fine comedian, as demonstrated by his brilliantly funny performance in THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942), a film I've always thought should have netted him an Oscar nomination.

Look for Lurene Tuttle as the cheery unemployment office clerk. Richard Lane and Garry Owen are also in the cast.

This 87-minute movie was directed by Albert S. Rogell and filmed by Stanley Cortez. The script was co-written by John O'Dea and Sidney Salkow; Salkow directed a great many "B" films and TV episodes. I thought the screenplay was creative and especially enjoyed the men's home in a former defense plant; the moment the admiral opens the door to the "powder room" is quite funny.

The Alpha DVD print from Netflix was a somewhat soft picture but good for an Alpha print, with no skips or jumps. This movie is also currently available on YouTube. Amazon Prime subscribers can stream this film at no charge.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Thanks for this review! I'm looking for a fun zany film and I have Netflix so I will watch this one soon.

Also I'm one of the few people who really like Edmond O'Brien!

1:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the review, Raquel, I hope you'll find this as entertaining as I did.

I used to be a bit uncertain about Edmond O'Brien, but as I've seen him in some good movies this year including THE AMAZING MRS. HOLLIDAY, 711 OCEAN DRIVE, and COW COUNTRY, I've gradually realized I like him quite well. :)

Best wishes,

2:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Edmond O'brien was a great actor. Because of his appearance he didn't get the "sexy" roles and so is perceived to be less likable than some and didn't get the acclaim he deserved.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love Edmond O'Brien. He might not have been conventionally handsome but I find him very attractive, in part because of his interesting persona.

Best wishes,

7:04 PM  

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