Thursday, January 6, 2011
Here Comes the Groom - 1951
“Here Comes the Groom” (1951) can be viewed through a prism of different spectrums, first and foremost perhaps, as the first in the last handful of movies directed by Frank Capra. There are pieces of Capra’s canon here: a smidgen of screwball comedy, a bit of social commentary. But, as if not too deeply touched by the great director, the film summons up all its parts and walks away on its own, flawed but triumphant just for getting there.
Maybe you could say the same for Frankenstein’s monster. It got up and walked away on its own, too. But, I have a fondness for the monster, and I have a fondness for this pretty delightful movie that tries hard to be more than it is.
Here we have Bing Crosby as a happy-go-lucky foreign correspondent in Paris writing about war orphans. Capra reminds us that we are still in the mopping up stage in the aftermath of World War II, when some six years after the war ended, Americans are getting a bit weary of it.
“The war orphan racket’s milked dry. It’s not news anymore,” Bing’s editor says, played by Robert Keith, who we last saw here in “I Want You” (1950). Words like UNESCO, the United Nations, the Atlantic Charter are bandied about, reminding us of the timeline this movie places us.
Alan Reed and Minna Gombell.
(Does anybody else automatically think of the old line from the “Mary Tyler Moore” show, “Anna Maria Alberghetti in a taxi, honey…”?)
Perhaps Mr. Capra, too, is weary of the aftermath of World War II, because this is all that constitutes social commentary in this breezy musical, and we move on, tentatively, to the screwball comedy.
Bing Crosby, despite his efforts at finding homes for war orphans, is not really as much a hero as a lazy fellow for whom things always work out. Doing good comes as a coincidence.
this post on “Old Yeller”, where she was a bit older and had a bit more to do.
I like little Jacques’s mimicking of Crosby on the phone.
When he arrives with the kids in Boston, he discovers that Miss Wyman’s already bound for the altar that week with a millionaire, played by Franchot Tone. Mr. Tone makes a refreshing nemesis; he is handsome, intelligent, kind, and superior in every way. Crosby realizes he has his work cut out for him and he must be especially devious to steal Wyman away from this great guy.
But there is chemistry between Miss Wyman and Mr. Crosby that we discover right off the bat, despite her criticism of his maddeningly casual take on life. When she brings him to the office building of her real-estate investor employer, who is also her fiancé, to help Bing find a cottage for his young-uns, they demonstrate rapport and sparkling musicality in the number “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”, which they warble from the office, to the elevator, and out into the street.
The song immediately became a big hit on the radio. Some of the audience then, and perhaps more so today, who had become used to thinking of Jane Wyman as a dramatic actress may have forgotten she started out a chorus girl and could belt a song out with the best of them.
Another fun “the gang’s all here” kind of aspect is engendered by so many familiar faces getting a piece of the action: James Barton and Connie Gilchrist as Jane’s “wrong side of the track” parents. (It was disapprovingly noted in a recent viewing of this film by one of my relatives that though Jane’s family is from Gloucester, Mass. and the movie takes place in Boston, nobody here has the proper accent. I don’t hold it against anybody, though. I can be big.)
Adeline De Walt Reynolds, who we featured once in this post, who gets a couple of funny lines. Charles Halton, who last showed up as the detective in “The Shop Around the Corner” shows up here as an immigration agent. H.B. Warner is one of Franchot Tone’s stodgy wealthy uncles.
1950s princess here, here, and here.
I like when editor Robert Keith, who is a conspirator in her “education”, leaves to head back for the office and one of Miss Smith’s stockings snags a ride on the back of his hat.
Have a look below for “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening”. Note how it’s sung “live” and not lip-synched.
Below that, our USO troupe singing “Miso Cristofo Columbo”.
(Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom and mute the music so you can hear the video.)