Sunday, November 18, 2018

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

I'm especially excited about a couple of films being released this month by the Warner Archive, one of which is WALLFLOWER (1948).

WALLFLOWER, which I first reviewed here nearly nine years ago, is a lively, sparkling film written by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, based on a play by Reginald Denham and Mary Orr.

In this brisk 77-minute family comedy, Joyce Reynolds and Janis Paige (who are now 93 and 96 years old, respectively) play loving but competitive stepsisters Jackie and Joy. I suppose in modern lingo one might call them "frenemies," but the bottom line is that despite tangling over boys -- and Joy's ability to attract too many of them -- the sisters love and support each other.

The movie begins with a sequence filmed at Long Beach Airport, as the girls miss their flight home from college due to Joy (Paige) flirting with yet another man. When they finally make it home, Jackie (Reynolds) is disappointed when Warren (Robert Hutton) is distracted from asking her to a dance once he gets an eyeful of Joy in a bathing suit.

Jackie plans to stay home from the dance but attends at the last minute with Stevie (Don McGuire), another of Joy's swains. Jackie cuts the sleeves off her dress and decidedly changes her image; to Joy's shock, the boys start flocking to Jackie! Rather than being upset, Joy joins the band to sing a tune while Jackie dances; she's surprised but genuinely happy for her sister -- all the more so as she's fended off two marriage proposals that night and realizes she's not ready to be that serious with any one man!

It's no surprise that the vivacious Paige is terrific as the boy-crazy Joy, but she's matched step for step by Reynolds, who despite being the title "wallflower" is charming and assured. Reynolds was seen to good effect in several films of the '40s, including a small but noticeable role in THE CONSTANT NYMPH (1943) and costarring with Hutton in JANIE (1944) and ALWAYS TOGETHER (1947). Her career ending with just one more film after such a good part in WALLFLOWER is rather a mystery, as she's likeable and appealing.

Edward Arnold and Barbara Brown are terrific as the girls' parents. I don't usually do this when I revisit a film, but I'll quote here from my 2010 review, as it's so on target: "Some of the lines are laugh-out-loud funny, and the characters are well-drawn; it's believable that Arnold's straight-laced district attorney loves his giddy but sweet wife (Brown), and I liked that he didn't condescend to her despite the fact that she's not always quite 'with it.'"

The supporting cast includes the always-reliable Jerome Cowan, plus Ann Shoemaker, Harry Lewis, Walter Sande, and Angela Greene.

WALLFLOWER was directed by Frederick De Cordova and filmed in black and white by Karl Freund.

The Warner Archive DVD has an excellent picture and sound. The disc includes the trailer.

I consider this film an unsung little gem of a comedy and happily recommend it.

Also releasing this month: An all-time favorite Robert Montgomery romance, HIDE-OUT (1934). Look for a review here at a future date!

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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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