This is the second-to-last instalment of my 100 Days of Old Movies series. I'm almost done!
81 & 82: Beauty for the Asking (1939)
Why should a woman stop using her brains just because she's caught her man?
Beauty for the Asking is an early Lucille Ball vehicle - it's not an outright comedy, and she isn't even the comic character. I've not seen a great many Lucille Ball films, they just don't seem to make their way down here, but I thought I'd feature her in this little film.
Lucille is Jean, a beautician who has been working on creating a new beauty cream in her spare time. Her fiancé Denny (Patric Knowles) is a salesman for beauty companies and he will sell it for her when she's perfected the recipe. However, on the day she figures out the perfect formula, Denny drops by to tell her that the engagement is off - he's marrying Flora (Frieda Inescort), a plain woman with a fortune in the millions. Jean is shattered. Then she loses her job after stuffing cold cream in a woman's face after she chatters away about the upcoming society marriage. Her best friend and roommate Gwen (Inez Courtney) gives her a pep talk - she hasn't given up on her face cream, has she? Jean decides to give her cream a go - but without Denny to sell it, she needs advertising, so she follows advertising executive Jeffrey (Donald Woods) around until he gives in and helps her. They don't have capital, so to raise finances they send a sample of the product to ten rich women, hoping one will agree to finance a salon. Unfortunately for Jean, the woman who takes up the offer is Flora, who wants something for Denny to do. Now Denny is part of the business, and Jean has to see him every day, and (for some reason we do not understand, he's a total slimeball) she still loves him. Meanwhile Jeffrey is pining for Jean. Everyone is super happy. The salon is a huge success and the money starts rolling in. Jean sends Denny away on a business trip (out of temptation, he's indicated he'd be perfectly happy to have her as a bit on the side) and Flora comes to her for advice - she's losing interest her husband's interest: what can she do? Jean tells her the hard truth - for a woman owning a whole beauty empire, she looks awful, bad figure, bad makeup, bad hair, bad clothes. In the six weeks until Denny returns, Jean puts Flora through bootcamp, so that by the time he's back, she's a beautiful woman. Denny cottons on to what Jean has been doing, and tells her it's no use, he was a fool, he's coming back to her. Jean goes to tell this to Flora, who takes it hard, but when Denny discovers that Jean has said that they're giving Flora's money back, he changes his tune, and goes back to Flora - who has changed all the locks and ejected all his clothes from the house. Jean goes on a holiday to forget Denny, Denny marries one of Flora's wealthy friends, and when Jean returns she gets together with Jeffrey. The film ends with possibly my favourite movie-telegram:
Denny's new wife:
Please forget that he was ever your husband STOP Please forget he ever meant anything to you, if even for a moment STOP Please forget -
Forgotten - Flora
Me too - Jean
I am sending you all my Mrs Dennis Williams calling cards. I hate waste - Flora
We are sending them airmail. We hope they do not arrive too late to be of use - Jean.
There is no trailer for this on youtube, sorry!
More below the cut:
83, 84, 85 & 86: White Christmas (1954)
– By the time you get round to getting what left to be gotten, what's left to be gotten won't be worth getting whatever it is you've got left!
– When I figure out what that means I'll come up with a crushing reply.
White Christmas is a perennial classic, and surprisingly un-tear-jerking for a Christmas classic. Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up as entertainers after WW2. Bob was already a singing star, and after Phil saved his life he's been unable to shake him - but their act has gone from strength to strength. Just before they break for the Christmas holidays they go to see a sister act - Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera Ellen) Haynes - after a letter from their brother, who served with them in the war. Phil wants Bob to get married, so that he'll be less of a workaholic, and after seeing Bob is taken with Betty, he connives them up to Vermont, where the girls have a holiday booking. The Vermont hotel is owned by their old General, who is on the point of losing his money, a situation made all the worse by the fact that there is no snow, and so no holidaymakers. Bob and Phil hatch a plan to get their theatre company up to put on their show, with the Haynes sisters filling any empty spots, and to get as many of the old army company up to stay at the hotel as possible, to show the General that he hasn't been forgotten. When Betty hears that Bob is going on television to put out the call, she believes that it is a money-making venture, with the whole show being televised, and leaves for a solo job in New York. She returns when she realises her mistake, and everyone gets together in the perfectly-timed first fall of snow.
87 & 88: Hatari! (1962)
How do you like to kiss?
I'm not a western fan. My father is, so I've seen quite a few, but I've never been able to get enthusiastic about them. Hatari is my concession the western genre in my 100 Days lineup. And it's not even a proper western. Sorry. Set in Africa, a ragtag troupe of people catch animals for zoos around the world. Sean (John Wayne) is one of the party, and he is very upset when a photographer arrives on assignment from one of the zoos, and turns out to be a woman - Dallas (Elsa Martinelli). There is one woman in the team, Brandy (played by Michèle Giradon) but she has grown up with the life. A city photographer will just be in the way. Sparks fly, naturally. Meanwhile Brandy has fallen for Pockets (Red Buttons) while Luis (Valentin de Vargas) and Chips (Gérard Blain) have fallen for Brandy, and The Indian (Bruce Cabot) is out of action with a rhino-wound. Dallas adopts several baby elephants, who add hilarity to the final chase scene where everyone needs to stop her leaving the country after an argument with Sean. There are many scenes with animals, and from what I hear, most of the animal-capture scenes were overdubbed because John Wayne swore so much.
89, 90 & 91: It Started With Eve (1941)
The trouble with being sick is you have to associate with doctors.
This is my favourite Deanna Durbin movie, because it's so funny. Deanna plays Anne Terry, a hatcheck girl who is in New York hoping to break into the music scene. She's had no luck and just wants to go home. She's just gone off on her break when she is offered $50 by distracted Johnny Reynolds (Robert Cummings) - his father, Jonathon Reynolds Snr (Charles Laughton), is on his deathbed, and wants to meet Johnny's fiancee Gloria (Margaret Tallichet) before he dies. But Johnny can't find her. Time is of the essence. Will Anne pretend to be Gloria to make a dying man's last moments happy? Anne agrees, the $50 will buy her train ticket home.
Reynolds Snr is much taken with Anne, and in the morning is remarkably recovered. He demands to see 'Gloria' again, so Johnny frantically tracks her down just as she's about to catch her train, and begs her to keep the masquerade going just a little bit longer. Reynolds promises to put on a party for 'Gloria', so she can sing for influential people. Johnny just wants her gone so the real Gloria can step in. He tells his father they have argued, but Anne ruins this plan by running in to beg forgiveness, which also ruins the scheduled visit of the real Gloria and her mother. While Anne and Johnny argue, Reynolds Snr overhears that Anne is not really engaged to his son. He's very upset, but since Anne is clearly better for Johnny than Gloria is, he sets about scheming to get them together properly.
I can't find a trailer for this on Youtube, so here is a clip instead. Unfortunately it's not the hilarious fight scene from just before.