“Let’s Do It Again” (1953) gives us a last look at a frivolous musical comedienne Jane Wyman before a long stretch of more “soapy” roles. To be sure, she had her serious talents already explored in her Oscar-winning performance in “Johnny Belinda” (1946), and “The Lost Weekend” (1945) with Ray Milland, with whom she’s teamed again in this movie.
It’s a different matter to take on a frothy role after one is already established; we see her character is not like the old ditzy chorus girls she used to play when she was younger. Her dignity, partly due to age and party due to simply paying her dues, helps her stand out in this otherwise lightweight movie.
I'll bet your house parties look like this. I know mine do.
Ray Milland is a Broadway composer who, much to the chagrin of his wife, Jane Wyman, spends much of his time on the town carousing without her. She is a former musical star who retired to be a wife. She attempts to make him jealous with a tall tale about staying out all night with his rival composer, played by Tom Helmore. When Milland balks at her story about spending the night with Mr. Helmore in a motel, she, completely unruffled, comforts him, “Darling, don’t look so worried. It was approved by the auto club.”
She plays the scene well, and we see Wyman has not lost her flare for comedy. As their fight moves briskly to the bedroom, she does a does a modest striptease, a few cheesecake poses, singing and never spoiling her perfect makeup in the shower.
Ray Milland gets a few funny bits, especially one later on in the film with Helmore as they discover they have the wrong hats, but for the most part it’s Miss Wyman’s movie. She sings, she dances (Milland is dubbed), and looks great. Her best scene, when she tries to win him back after he dumps her for another lady, is when she crashes a party for his fiancée and her parents. She pretends to be Milland’s sister, a world-traveling chanteuse and anthropologist.
Please remember to scroll down to the bottom of the page and mute the music so you can hear the video.
Aldo Ray, with his whiskey-rasp of a voice had better roles ahead of him, but was one of those actors who never seemed to get real breaks. Here’s a great commentary on his work over at Where Danger Lives.
Have a look here at this earlier post on Mary Treen.
Trivia for you younger folks: with the advent of mp3, the term of a music “album” is probably used less these days, last used for CDs, but it came from the days -- as we see when Jane Wyman plays a record -- when 78rpm records were issued in an album set. That is, a bound book with five or six sleeves to hold as many records. In this case, Miss Wyman holds an album of several song hits by popular singer Dick Haymes. Broadway cast albums (I think “Oklahoma” was the first to be issued) held the entire show, two songs per record, several records for a whole show, in the many sleeves of a rather heavy photo album-type bound book.
this article from Billboard magazine (August 2, 1952), the year before “Let’s Do It Again” was released, they (along with 45’s) had accounted for half the sales -- 78s were still hanging in there. Only for a couple more years.
Here’s a cast album from the Broadway hit “Brigadoon” in 78rpm (the paperboard album long since has fallen apart after moldering in someone’s cellar for decades) and also in LP. Would we have the patience today to wait for “side 10” to hit the spindle?
One last look at Jane Wyman’s musical talent, and off-the-shoulder gown, and opera gloves.