Monday, June 10, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Twice Blessed (1945) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Charming twins Lee and Lyn Wilde star in MGM's delightful comedy TWICE BLESSED (1945), just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

I loved TWICE BLESSED when I first saw it back in 2012 and have been hoping for a Warner Archive release. It's finally happened, and I'm delighted that a wider audience will now be able to discover this enjoyable film.

Disney's classic THE PARENT TRAP (1961) seems to have taken more than a little inspiration from this 1945 movie about identical twins raised apart by their divorced parents.

Stephanie (Lyn Wilde), a genius, has received a sheltered upbringing from her mother Mary (Gail Patrick), a famous child psychologist. Stephanie has traveled the world with her mother in the seven years since her parents divorced, but despite her world travels and sophisticated wardrobe, Stephanie has missed out on many normal teenage experiences.

Stephanie's twin Terry (Lee Wilde) has been raised by her newspaperman father Jeff (Preston Foster) as an ordinary kid; Terry's not much for studying, but she enjoys hanging out with her friends at the malt shop and dances a great jitterbug!

The twins are reunited when Mary and Stephanie return to the States after a long absence, and the girls decide to trade places for a while to see what they've each been missing. Terry's beau Jimmy (Marshall Thompson, seen at right) is baffled by his suddenly stronger feelings for "Terry" (really Stephanie), despite the fact she seems to have lost the ability to dance, while Mickey (Jimmy Lydon) falls for "Stephanie," who is actually Terry.

Along with untangling their own romances, the twins also do their best to reunite their parents before Mary makes the mistake of marrying stuffy Senator Pringle (Richard Gaines).

I find this 76-minute film great fun. The entire cast is attractive, starting with longtime favorites Patrick and Foster as the parents. Patrick exudes elegance and intelligence as Mary, while Foster is everyone's ideal good-natured dad -- and possibly husband.

It's wonderful to see a story like this where no special effects are needed to portray identical twins; even better, the Wildes are effervescent and altogether quite delightful. Their other biggest roles were in ANDY HARDY'S BLONDE TROUBLE (1944) for MGM and CAMPUS HONEYMOON (1948) for Republic Pictures, and they also appeared in small roles in several other movies. I wish their film careers had been longer!

Lyn and Lee married brothers, musicians James and Thomas Cathcart. Lee passed on in September 2015 and Lyn in September 2016. You can learn more about them at this Wilde Twins website, and there's a great article by Annette Bochenek at her site Hometowns to Hollywood. Annette's piece includes pictures of her with Lyn, who was quite lovely in her 90s, and photographs of Lyn's scrapbook.

The cast of TWICE BLESSED also includes Jean Porter, who played an energetic teenager in a number of '40s films. Look for John Dehner as a radio announcer and Arthur Space as a contest judge. Also in the cast are Douglas Cowan and Gloria Hope (seen here with Foster).

One of the intriguing aspects of the film is how well-adjusted everyone seems to be despite a long separation; in the modern era the girls would no doubt be portrayed as teeming with resentment over a lack of relationship with one of their parents.

The movie has some ideas about women's roles which are now considered dated, but that reflection of its era is also part of what makes it interesting, along with jukeboxes and jitterbugging, a radio quiz show with Ethel Smith at the organ, and the like.

Some viewers may also wish to know in advance there is a very brief blackface scene as the girls utilize it as a disguise when trying to prevent an attempted blackmail.

TWICE BLESSED was directed by Harry Beaumont. It was filmed in black and white by Ray June.

The Warner Archive DVD is a nice print with good sound. The disc includes the trailer.

I like this film a great deal. Recommended.

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

MARSHALL THOMPSON is known for the TV show DAKTARI(1966-69). CBN CABLE showed it in the 80s. Also Thompson was in TO HELL AND BACK which was the true story of AUDIE MURPHY. Audie played himself. It was about his early years and his time in the military. Classic TV Fan

6:17 PM  

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