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SLIGHTLY FRENCH (director: Douglas Sirk; screenwriters: Karen DeWolf/ based on a story by Herbert Fields; cinematographer: Charles Lawton; editor: Al Clark; music: Allan Roberts and Lester Lee/Harold Arien and Ted Koehler; cast: Dorothy Lamour (Mary O’Leary/Rochelle Olivia), Don Ameche (John Gayle), Janis Carter (Louisa Gayle), Willard Parker (Douglas Hyde), Adele Jergens (Yvonne La Tour), Jeanne Manet (Nicolette), Frank Ferguson (Marty Freeman), Myron Healey (Stevens), Leonard Carey (Wilson), Earle Hodgins (Barker); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Irving Starr; Columbia Pictures; 1949)
“Modestly entertaining.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A remake of the 1934 Let’s Fall in Love, that’s modestly entertaining. Douglas Sirk (“Magnificent Obsession”/”The Tarnished Angels”/”Imitation of Life”)directs this minor musical comedy with a Pygmalion-type of transformation, in his usual stylish flourishes. It’sbased on a story by Herbert Fields and is written by Karen DeWolf.

Perfectionist movie director John Gayle (Don Ameche), known as a difficult taskmaster, causes the star of his next picture Yvonne La Tour(Adele Jergens) to have a nervous breakdown and go on a six months sabbatical for rest. John’s sister Louisa (Janis Carter) takes the self-absorbed Alpha male to a nearby carnival to chill out. The director is impressed by the versatility of dancer/singer Mary O’Leary (Dorothy Lamour) to play a Brazilian sexpot, a Chinese doll and a French dancer. When the director’s best friend, Doug Hyde (Willard Parker), the movie’s producer, tells John the boss, J.B., has fired him, the cunning director schemes to have Mary, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, pretend to be French and take Yvonne’s place as a French singer. John brings Mary home to live in the mansion he shares with his sister, and hires a French tutor, Nicolette (Jeanne Manet), to teach Mary to be Gallic and passed off as a cultured heiress. Mary’s name is changed to Rochelle Olivia, and she’s introduced to Doug as the French cousin of Nicolette. When Doug hears her sing at a party, he talks the boss into continuing the picture with Rochelle and John.

Though John browbeats her, Mary still falls in love with him. While workaholic John avoids her, Doug takes Rochelle out every night night-clubbing. Finally, the jealous John joins Doug and Rochelle at a charity ball and he has a spat with his protege in public. It results in an irate Mary revealing who she is and the eavesdropping reporters break the story in the next day papers. Though John gets fired, it builds to a happy ending when John finally realizes he loves Mary and Doug finally realizes he loves Louisa as much as she loves him. Mary can’t work with the new director and John is rehired to finish the picture, and it all ends well in Tinseltown.

The story might not be much and the music only passable, but the film had a joie de vivre that made it a fun watch.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”