(director: Vincente Minnelli; screenwriters: Robert Nathan/Joseph Schrank/story by Pauline and Paul Gallico; cinematographer: George Folsey; editor: George White; music: George Bassman; cast: Judy Garland (Alice Mayberry), Robert Walker (Cpl. Joe Allen), James Gleason (Al Henry), Keenan Wynn (Luncheonette Drunk), Marshall Thompson (Bill), Lucile Gleason (Mrs. Al Henry), Ruth Brady (Helen); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Arthur Freed; MGM Home Entertainment; 1945)
“It’s hard not to be moved by its heart-warming romantic tale.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Vincente Minnelli’s (“The Long, Long Trailer”/”The Pirate”) first nonmusical is a charming and sentimental love story about a hick Indiana soldier Cpl. Joe Allen (Robert Walker) on a two-day leave in New York before shipping out to England. He ‘meets on the cute’ at New York’s Penn Station lonely office worker Alice Mayberry (Judy Garland) and goes with her on a Fifth Avenue open-top bus ride, spends the remainder of Sunday afternoon visiting the zoo in Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum, and that evening they meet under the clock at the Hotel Astor to go on a dinner date. After a whirlwind romance, he marries her.

It’s based on a story by Pauline and Paul Gallico; it’s written by Robert Nathan and Joseph Schrank. It was first directed by Fred Zinnemann but Garland didn’t get along with him and the early takes were disappointing, which caused a stoppage in the production until Minnelli (worked with Garland on “Meet Me in St. Louis”) came on board and got the ship back on the right course. It was Garland’s first straight dramatic role and she doesn’t even sing one song.

The film works so well because in its simple storytelling it catches the pulse of the big city, the loneliness of outsiders and the young couple is so likeable. Though it now appears hopelessly old-fashioned, it’s hard not to be moved by its heart-warming romantic tale.