Friday, January 20, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Having Wonderful Time (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

A good cast enlivens HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (1938), a romantic comedy available from the Warner Archive.

Teddy (Ginger Rogers), a somewhat naive secretary, spends her two-week vacation at a summer camp for young adults, where she falls for a waiter, Chick (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), who aspires to a career as a lawyer.

That's really all there is to the plot! The fun is in hanging out with a large cast of familiar faces on the sunny shores of California's Big Bear Lake. This RKO film is a STAGE DOOR (1937) reunion with Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, and Jack Carson in the cast in addition to Rogers.

Also on hand are Lee Bowman, Allan "Rocky" Lane, Peggy Conklin, Dorothea Kent, Kay Sutton, and Grady Sutton. Teddy's family members include Dean Jagger, Juanita Quigley, and Inez Courtney.

I first saw this film back in 2008, and I remembered it having a weak script but being fun nonetheless.

That impression was underscored with this fresh viewing. The 71-minute film could have used more time to develop the relationship of Chick and Teddy. There are also a couple random moments dropped into the movie which do nothing for the plot, such as a riff by one Richard "Red" Skelton on donuts.

That said, this is a movie I enjoy spending time with. Rogers and Fairbanks have a sweet chemistry, and I wish they'd made more films together.

The handsome Fairbanks is someone I always enjoy. The role of Teddy is something of a change of pace for Ginger, who so often played savvy, sharp-tongued characters; here she plays a more innocent young woman. The scene where she spends the night playing backgammon with Bowman, with Fairbanks rushing in to save her virtue, is quite funny, particularly given the perplexed, nonchalant reactions of Bowman and Rogers.

All in all, it's a pleasant, upbeat film in a fun setting. Those who like the cast will probably enjoy it as well, despite its featherweight story.

HAVING WONDERFUL TIME was directed by Alfred Santell and filmed by Robert DeGrasse.

The Warner Archive print is rough in a couple spots, with one noticeably scratched spot with a skip at the end of a scene, but for the most part it's fine. There are no extras.

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.


Blogger barrylane said...

A fine musical evolved in the early fifties from this story called Wish You Were Here. Jack Cassidy had the Fairbanks part with Patricia Marand and Sheila Bond following Ginger Rogers and Lucille Ball. Had a swimming pool on stage and was loads of fun. I remember it well and fondly.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I've heard the title but that's all...a swimming pool on stage certainly sounds like fun. Thanks for adding that information.

Related trivia: seeing Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones in concert at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, while on a vacation is a fond childhood memory. According to the Starlight's website that was in 1974. :)

Best wishes,

3:26 PM  

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