Sunday, July 12, 2015

Tonight's Movie: June Bride (1948) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

A fine cast sparkles in JUNE BRIDE (1948), a well-written romantic comedy very recently released by the Warner Archive.

I first saw JUNE BRIDE back in 2007, and I must say I'd forgotten just how enjoyable it was, with a terrific cast.

Robert Montgomery and Bette Davis play Carey and Linda, a writer and editor for Home Life Magazine, who travel to Indiana to cover a "June wedding" in an "average" American family.

It's amusing to note how little has changed since the '40s, as the wedding will actually be very staged, with the magazine staff making over the home and family prior to the ceremony -- which, incidentally, is not taking place in June, but February!

Carey learns that the prospective bride, Jeanne (Barbara Bates), is on the rebound from Jim (Ray Montgomery), while Jeanne's younger sister "Boo" (Betty Lynn) is in love with Bud (Raymond Roe), the bridegroom to be. Carey arranges to throw Jeanne and Jim together and suddenly both the family and the magazine article are in a state of chaos.

Carey and Linda, old flames who went their separate ways after covering the war, meanwhile discover that absence has made the heart grow fonder. Maybe.

Montgomery and Davis may seem to be an odd couple, but they work very well together, trading quips and, during a brief but memorable horse-drawn ride, generating some sparks.

Montgomery curiously chooses to do some wide-eyed mugging, especially early in the film, but perhaps that was his way of trying to hold his own against Davis the Diva. Davis has been quoted multiple places as saying Montgomery was an excellent actor, but a scene-stealer ("the male Miriam Hopkins"), yet other sources have described him as a generous and helpful colleague, so who knows? In any event, having enjoyed numerous Montgomery films in the years since I first saw this, I think I got past his wide-eyed routine more quickly this time and sat back and enjoyed the movie.

The great Tom Tully is laugh-out-loud funny as the bewildered father, whether he's secretly sharing frozen hard cider with Montgomery or trying to figure out what his wife's bust is doing in the garage.

Davis's staff includes Fay Bainter and Mary Wickes, no slouches in the wisecracking department, and her photographer is George O'Hanlon of the long-running series of JOE McDOAKES shorts. Jerome Cowan makes an impact in a brief but very amusing role as Davis and Montgomery's publisher.

During the pre-wedding scene, take a close look at the girl sitting on the left of the sofa; it's Debbie Reynolds, in her film debut. I hadn't found her the first time I saw the film years ago, so I was glad to pick her out of the crowd this time around!

The witty Ranald MacDougall screenplay has a number of good lines and moves along to a well-paced conclusion at 96 minutes.

JUNE BRIDE was directed by Bretaigne Windust. It was filmed in black and white by Ted McCord.

The Warner Archive DVD is a fine print, and the DVD includes the trailer as an extra.

Recommended as an enjoyable comedy for the whole family, the kind of movie which shows up all too infrequently in the current era.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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