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GIRL MOST LIKELY, THE (director: Mitchell Leisen; screenwriters: Devery Freeman/based on an uncredited story and screenplay by Paul Jarrico; cinematographer: Robert H. Planck; editors: Harry Marker/Doane Harrison; music: Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane; cast: Jane Powell (Dodie), Cliff Robertson (Pete), Keith Andes (Neil), Kaye Ballard (Marge), Tommy Noonan (Buzz), Kelly Brown (Sam), Una Merkel (Mom), Frank Cady (Pop), Judy Nugent (Pauline), Joseph Kearns (Mr. Schlom, Bank Boss); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Stanley Rubin; RKO; 1958)
“Decent, cheerful, lightweight musical version of Tom, Dick and Harry (1941).

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Mitchell Leisen’s (“Easy Living”/”Lady In The Dark”/”Remember The Night”)last feature film is thisdecent, cheerful, lightweight musical version of Tom, Dick and Harry (1941), which the talented filmmaker does a credible job with such an often-packaged script. It’s based on an uncredited story and screenplay by Paul Jarrico, with Devery Freeman cowriter. The gifted Gower Champion, before he became a Broadway legend, is the choreographer, whose two dreamy numbers in the film–set on a southern California beach and in the border town of Tijuana, Mexico–were this film’s high-spots. Champion took a dislike to star Jane Powell and quit the film. This was Powell’s last starring role in a film, although she continued to work onstage and in television. The bevy of fair but not memorable songs include “Beach Party,” I Don’t Know What I Want,” “We Gotta Keep Up with the Joneses,” “Balboa,” “Crazy Horse,” “All the Colors of the Rainbow” and the title song.

It was shot at the nearly abandoned RKO studio, which had just been sold for its vast film library.Itwas the last RKO Radio picture ever produced at the studio’s Hollywood facilities, which relocated as Desilu moved in.

Dodie (Jane Powell) is a pert, ditzy bank clerk from Balboa Bay, California, who lives at home with her folks (Una Merkel & Frank Cady) and teenage sister Pauline (Judy Nugent). The dreamer Dodie yearns for a millionaire. She soon finds she must choose from among the three following eligible suitors to wed: the unambitious but charming boat mechanic Pete (Cliff Robertson), the wealthy playboy Neil (Keith Andes), or the hard-working, stable, ambitious but dull real estate salesman Buzz (Tommy Noonan). Not certain of who to chose, Dodie in a short time accepts proposals from all three.

When Dodie’s longtime boyfriend Buzz proposes after he gets a promotion, she accepts even though she doesn’t love him. At the bank the next day she tells this to her girlfriend Marge (Kaye Ballard). On the way home by ferry, Dodie’s attracted to the millionaire Neil Patterson, Jr. who passes by in his yacht. To attract his attention, she jumps off the ferry and is rescued by him. When he asks her out, Dodie accepts. When he picks her up that evening, it turns out that he’s Neil’s mechanic Pete. They double-date with Marge and her sailor date Sam Kelsey (Kelly Brown), and though Dodie was at first disturbed over the mix-up now finds Pete attractive. When they kiss goodnight, she glows and accepts the smitten guy’s marriage proposal. Dodie meets Neil the following night, when a mix-up occurs at Buzz’s real estate office and Dodie and Pete walk home together along the beach and Pete spots a drunken Neil paddling in the water in panic. Pete runs off to get help. While he’s gone, Neil scores a date with the comforting Dodie for the following evening on his yacht. When she resists his advances and threatens to jump overboard, Neil takes her to Tijuana. They run into Marge and Samthere, and go club dancing all night. Neil takes the drunken Dodie home at four a.m. by cab after she accepts his proposal, and they find Pete and Buzz at her doorstep. After putting her to bed, the trio return in the morning to see which suitor the now sober ‘say yes to everyone’ Dodie prefers.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”