Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day One Hundred and Forty-one - I Was A Male War Bride, "An ounce of Cary's charm with a thimbleful of plot."

Despite what I am about to type in this post, I love Cary Grant. Arsenic and Old Lace is a grand old time and To Catch A Thief is about as cool as 50's could ever get. I think it's a tossup between him and George Clooney when it comes to debonair charm in my book.

Yes, I realize that I'm riling up the Gosling hordes out there, but I calls'em like I sees'em.

That said, I was a bit bummed out by I Was A Male War Bride... especially since the crux of the title doesn't really factor into the movie until the last twenty minutes or so.

For the majority of the film, French Captain Rochard (Grant) and American Lieutenant Gates (Ann Sheridan) are at each other's throats. Apparently there is ample history between them previous to the start of the film and most of what we're privy to is an almost botched mission into occupied Germany after the end of World War Two to find a black marketeer and trade his underground art or gold bullion or those vast stores of American Cigarettes and Nylons that the Gestapo seemed to have in limitless supply.


The point is, they suffer through disaster after disaster together, needling one another along the way. Of course they're utterly in love with each other. There's no other explanation as to why Sheridan instantly goes to tears over coffee when Grant washes his hands of her after she has him hauled off to jail, as a black marketeer, himself.

And that's a good hour of film, ladies and gentlemen, just leading up to the fact that they really love one another... a discovery they make after several precocious German kinderschitzen send a sleeping Grant barreling into a hale bale on a motorcycle without a driver. Sure, it helps that they timidly share kisses after (Grant and Sheridan, not he and the children), but it's all cheap slapstick and tame foreplay.

But, what should I expect? It was 1949, after all. It would take five more years before they could even hint at sex with the fireworks spectacle of To Catch a Thief.

I guess I'm just disappointed that the whole "have to masquerade as a woman to pass as a war bride" bit is all of ten minutes on the back end. What could have been a wonderful gender bender comedy only manages to capitalize on it's title for a few mild jokes at the expense of both the Army and Navy... and Ann Sheridan is entirely too smug about all of the trials and tribulations she gets to put her new husband through.

Maybe it's a case of comeuppance for all the hundreds of years of gender inequality, now that women were officers and it's the men who were camp followers (well, in this one case anyway), but still... everything she went through, he suffered just the same, but worse.

As far as classic films goes... and I think it's a stretch to call it "classic" as opposed to just old... as far as classic films go, it's alright. I Was A Male War Bride has a few entertaining examples of Cary's unique aplomb and comedic timing, but his conflicts (and attraction) with Ann Sheridan are spurious at best, and the near constant beating he takes over the last half of the movie just stretches credulity beyond belief.

I mean, I'm an Army Brat... I know about the Army and it's bureaucracy. This was Keystone-Freaking-Kops.

Plus, Cary Grant as a Frog with the single most unbelievable French Accent in existence? Yeah, no, thank you.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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