Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Perils of Pauline (1947, G. Marshall)

Much more than just a poor man’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – but still not a great musical about the silent-to-sound Hollywood transition – George Marshall’s The Perils of Pauline (1947) makes for a pleasant enough distraction.

In a movie that’s so packed with wonderful entertainers – you cannot beat the Sturgesian duo of Betty Hutton and Bill Demarest, with Constance Collier as a bonus – one painfully misses a single thing: a leading man to match Hutton. Maybe not to match her folly (you’d need Eddie Bracken for that, no less), but at least her energy. Alas, John Lund comes off as a gravely impaired bore: a terminal square. Small wonder he later on played George Kittridge in the musical remake of The Philadelphia Story (1940)…

Hutton was a great comedienne; nowadays only Anna Faris is a proud heiress to her reckless brand of self-mocking irony and physical bravado. When her character comes up with an idea, all that’s missing is a big light bulb springing up over Hutton’s head – she’s cartoonish to the point of rapture, and it comes as sort of a shock when she falls off a rope near the end and actually gets hurt. Shouldn’t she bounce off the stage and keep on prancing around…?

Here’s one for your delight, by the way:

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