Thursday, May 05, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Has Anybody Seen My Gal (1952) at the TCM Classic Film Festival

Note: Just one of the things I appreciated about Paddy, aka Patricia Nolan-Hall or Caftan Woman, was our shared taste in films, which made her a great resource for my viewing! We both especially loved BEND OF THE RIVER (1952) -- her review is here -- and the kind of good, solid mid-range film she called "a dandy"; we also often talked about movies we called "Sunday films," perfect viewing for a relaxing weekend afternoon. She wrote about one such "Sunday matinee movie" in her 2018 review of HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL (1952).

I have always made it a point to see new-to-me films recommended by Paddy, as I don't think I've ever been disappointed by one, so when HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL turned up on the TCM Classic Film Festival schedule I made sure to see it. I only wish that Paddy were still here so we could exchange thoughts on the film. This post, along with the above link to her review, is as close as I can now get to doing that, and I'm delighted to share it as my contribution to The Caftan Woman Blogathon being held in Paddy's honor.

Paddy's upbeat presence, enthusiasm, and support will always be greatly missed, by me personally and by the entire online classic film community.

The next-to-last film of the 16 screenings I saw at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival was HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL (1952). It's an early '50s film from Universal Pictures, shot by Clifford Stine in the studio's typical bright candybox colors, and directed by Douglas Sirk.

Ben Mankiewicz interviewed Piper Laurie before the movie, as seen here, and she shared she didn't particularly enjoy making the film, as she didn't like working with Sirk. Sirk had previously directed her opposite Tony Curtis in NO ROOM FOR THE GROOM (1952).

When asked if she saw any glimmers of the type of vision or style Sirk would later become known for when they worked together, Laurie tersely responded "No."

Laurie and Sirk would not work together again after HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL; by contrast, this was the very first of an impressive nine films collaborated on by Sirk and Rock Hudson. Hudson would do some of his best work for the director, including my favorite of their films together, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955).

One certainly can't tell that making the film wasn't a happy experience for Laurie, who gives an upbeat, bouncy performance as Millicent Blaisdell in this story set in the 1920s.

Millicent loves Dan Stebbins (Hudson), who works as a soda jerk in her father's (Larry Gates) drugstore, but her mother Harriet (Lynn Bari) is obsessed with the notion that Millicent should marry money. It seems that Harriet married for love, as did her mother before her, but Harriet doesn't like having to stretch to make ends meet and wants life to be easier for her daughter.

One of the ways the family supplements their budget is by taking in a boarder, John Smith (Charles Coburn), who in actuality is Samuel Fulton. Fulton had wanted to marry Harriet's mother but she spurned him; he went off to make a fortune but has no family. When he considers leaving his fortune to his lost love's surviving family, his lawyer (Frank Ferguson) suggests it would be a good idea if he first checks the Blaisdells out to make sure they deserve it.

The family take to Smith in greater or lesser degrees, and he even takes a job as a soda jerk in the drugstore; he finds new meaning and purpose living an ordinary family life for the first time. But when he anonymously drops a large sum of money in the Blaisdells' lap, all manner of unexpected complications ensue, including roadblocks to Millicent and Dan's romance.

The 88-minute film, written by Joseph Hoffman based on a story by Eleanor Porter (POLLYANNA), is a curious mix of lighthearted family comedy with darker overtones. Indeed, Harriet seems to be having a midlife crisis imported from one of Sirk's later melodramas.

The extent of Harriet Blaisdell's unhappiness becomes disconcerting, to the point that one wonders if her marriage and family relations can recover from the paths she chooses when they have money. The ending seeks to reassure us that "All's well that ends well," but I wonder!

On the other hand I had no worries at all for Millicent and Dan, once Millicent got out from under her overbearing mother's sway. Laurie and Hudson are charming in this, and it's hard to believe Millicent could seriously look at wealthy Carl (Skip Homeier) for one minute. I mean...he's played by Skip Homeier. I associate him with Western villainy, not with being a romantic leading man!  He's just as unpleasant here as he is in some of his other roles.

Gigi Perreau is a delight as Millicent's upbeat little sister Roberta, and she has good rapport with Coburn as Smith. I also liked William Reynolds as Millicent and Harriet's brother, who learns a valuable lesson about both gambling and appreciation thanks to Smith.

All in all, despite the story's more worrisome aspects, this is quite an enjoyable family "Sunday matinee movie," just as my friend Paddy wrote, and I'm very glad I saw it -- very appropriately, on a Sunday! The digital print shown at the festival was lovely.

You know you're watching a movie with the right crowd when a drugstore customer briefly onscreen is recognized by the audience to be James Dean and receives a round of applause!  The cast also included Paul Harvey, Gloria Holden, and Willard Waterman.

HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL is available as a single-title DVD in the Universal Vault Series, as part of the five-film Rock Hudson Screen Legend Collection or in the six-film Rock Hudson Comedy Collection.

2023 Update: HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL will be coming to Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.  (Additional Update: The release date for the Blu-ray will be January 9, 2024.)

18 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Another "dandy." I'll have to catch up on it myself sometime. Writing on this movie that you had seen at the TCM festival is like bringing us home a souvenir. Many of us who've never been to the TCM film festival probably hope to go someday, but I really wish Paddy could have gone. She would have been in her element, and you would have enjoyed each other's company. It's a miracle of technology that so many of us classic film fans have become friends in abstentia. Thanks for contributing to this blogathon in her honor.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Citizen Screen said...

Laura,

I love how you connected Paddy to this year's festival. She was on my mind as well and I intended to see MY GAL too but you know my body was giving out. I enjoyed your take on the TCMFF viewing of the movie. You also perfectly illustrate why we will all miss Paddy so much. Her generosity and love of movies will be with me for a long, long time.

Aurora

7:43 AM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

Nicely put, Jacqueline, and I firmly second your nice thoughts.

7:48 AM  
Blogger FlickChick said...

It's so true that Paddy introduced so many of us to films that we would normally never sought out. You've honored her with a lovely post and - best of all - a chance to see a movie on her recommended list.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

Saw Piper Laurie at a screening of THE HUSTLER in New Jersey years ago. Good actress.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I love this movie. It's an all around pleasure. Gigi Perreau is one of the few children in movies I don't actively want to throttle and Charles Coburn has rarely ever been more lovable.

I agree about Skip Homeier. Talk about type casting. Every time I see him I just think, there's that punk Skip again. Very unfair towards the actor, but he brought it on himself. :)

2:26 PM  
Blogger Terence Towles Canote said...

Has Anybody Seen My Gal is one of my favourite Douglas Sirk movies, if not my favourite. It is certainly a lot of fun! Anyway, one of the wonderful things about Paddy is that she so often wrote about movies that many of us had yet to see and in come cases may have never even heard of. With her knowledge of classic film and TV, her enthusiasm, and her devotion to her fellow bloggers, she'll certainly be missed.

3:03 PM  
Blogger The Lady Eve said...

So happy you joined Paddy's blogathon, Laura. Great choice and write up of one more of what seems a million films beloved by Paddy that I've yet to see.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I loved your write-up, Laura, and the fact that you saw the film at TCMFF because Paddy recommended it. I wish now that I'd seen it, too! It's not one that I'd ordinarily gravitate towards, but your review of this "Sunday matinee" feature makes me want to seek it out. I'm especially interested in seeing more Piper Laurie movies -- before recently, I'd only seen her in The Hustler and Carrie, but my mother turned me on to The Prince Who Was a Thief and Son of Ali Baba. And now I have this one to look forward to! Thank you for this lovely -- and fitting -- tribute.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, good write-up in honor of Paddy Lee. I first viewed HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL(filmed 1951, released 1952) in 2018, because Paddy Lee recommended it and that was plenty good enough for me. Needless to say, I liked the movie.

I miss Paddy Lee.

7:07 PM  
Blogger The Classic Movie Muse said...

I enjoyed reading your post and am eager to see this film based on your lovely writing and Paddy's recommendation! What a wonderful experience seeing this movie with the "right crowd." Thank you for sharing your memories of Paddy and the festival with us.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Chris Sturhann said...

Great post. I never met Paddy in real life. I did interact with her online. She is missed. Good for you doing the Sunday Matinee Movie in her honor.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Silver Screenings said...

She never steered a person wrong on a film, did she? Like you, Paddy introduced me to a wealth of new films and she greatly expanded my horizons.

I've not seen As for Me and My Gal, but I will, and I'll be thanking you for it, Laura.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Thanks so much, Laura, for clearing up a small mystery - I recently read Piper Laurie's excellent autobiography, where she briefly mentions "Has Anybody Seen My Gal" but not Douglas Sirk - now I know why!

And an even bigger thank you for enabling me to read about all the amazing festivals you attend - very much appreciated by me here in England. I did manage to get to CineCon about 20 years ago, but alas, no return to CA since, so it's great to see your pictures and read your descriptions. Hope to return one day and visit some of the festivals - and the restaurants! - you attend.

Best wishes, Richard

4:51 AM  
Blogger J-Dub said...

"I have always made it a point to see new-to-me films recommended by Paddy, as I don't think I've ever been disappointed by one..."

This is one of the things I will miss the most. I don't like the term "chick flick" as I feel it is somewhat dismissive, but the reality is men and women tend to have different tastes in film, and as a guy who came to classic Hollywood via a small TV station owned by Gene Autry, I run heavy on westerns and war movies.

But events like this are where you meet the Paddy Lee's of the world, and that's how everybody horizons are broadened.

5:02 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so very much for your comments on this post! I left the state for a few days almost as soon as it posted, hence the delay in responding.

Jacqueline, I really wish Paddy had been able to go to TCMFF or another festival. We sometimes spoke of the hope that she might be able to travel to the Lone Pine Festival after her transplant and see where so many of the movies she loved were filmed. (And it truly is special how many of us have connected thanks to modern technology.)

Aurora, thank you. I'm glad I was able to tie the festival together with Paddy. She is so missed.

Jerry, I know you will miss Paddy too as she so often commented at the various Westerns-loving sites we both frequent.

FlickChick, thank you, I hope you will enjoy this film when you get to see it.

Rich, how great you saw Piper Laurie too! I have her book in my "to read" stack.

Margot, I always enjoy Gigi Perreau. In 2019 I had the great pleasure of seeing her at a screening of SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950). And yep, that's about the size of it with Skip. He was an effective "type" -- but not one I really enjoy, poor guy.

Terry, I'm so glad you've enjoyed this film also. I'm grateful for all the movies Paddy let the rest of us know about.

The Lady Eve, thank you so much for putting this blogathon together along with Jacqueline. I am indebted to you both for carrying out the idea.

Karen, I watched SON OF ALI BABA in the summer of 2020 and it brought me great joy right when I needed it. I must catch up with THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF! I hope you'll enjoy this film one day.

Walter, how wonderful you first saw this film because of Paddy's recommendation! I miss her terribly.

Classic Movie Muse, thank you so much, and I hope you will be able to see the film!

Chris, like you I never met Paddy but I knew her for many years online. We all miss her so much.

Silver Screenings, it's true, I don't think she ever steered us wrong!!

Richard, glad I could clear up that mystery for you! Piper was definitely not a Sirk fan. ;) And how kind of you to share that nice feedback, I'm truly delighted to hear that you enjoy my festival posts and photos. I hope that you will definitely return one day! (Just as I hope to return to England!)

J-Dub, that's a great tribute about Paddy Lee broadening your viewing horizons. We probably grew up watching the same TV station -- KTLA?

Best wishes to you all, and thank you,
Laura

6:57 PM  
Blogger Rebecca Deniston said...

I've never heard of this film, either, but it's like you said, Paddy never steered us wrong. What a wonderful tribute. :-)

11:05 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Rebecca! I hope you'll get the chance to enjoy this film at some point.

Best wishes,
Laura

10:15 PM  

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