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TEA FOR TWO (director: David Butler; screenwriters: Harry Clork/from the play “No, No, Nanette” by Otto A. Harbach, Frank Mandel, Vincent Youmans and Emil Nyitray; cinematographer: Wilfred M. Cline; editor: Irene Morra; music: Vincent Youmans; cast: Doris Day (Nanette Carter), Gordon MacRae (Jimmy Smith), Gene Nelson (Tommy Trainor), Eve Arden (Pauline Hastings), Billy De Wolfe (Larry Blair), S.Z. Sakall (J. Maxwell Bloomhaus), Patrice Wymore (Beatrice Darcy), Virginia Gibson (Mabel Wiley), Bill Goodwin (William Early, lawyer); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: 97; producer: Williams Jacobs; Warner Bros.; 1950)
“Tea For Two is saddled with a ridiculous plot that only gets worse as it gets acted out.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

David Butler (“The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady”/”The Lullaby of Broadway”/”By the Light of the Silvery Moon”) directs this dull musical that’s very loosely based on the old-fashioned 1924 play “No, No, Nanette” by Otto A. Harbach, Frank Mandel, Vincent Youmans and Emil Nyitray. It’s lamely scripted by Harry Clork. The film’s best features are its superior colorful sets, capable cast and a number of bearable recycled songs that include the title song of “Tea For Two,” “I Want to Be Happy,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” “Crazy Rhythm,” “I Know That You Know,” “Do, Do, Do,” and “Charleston.” This was Doris Day’s fifth film, the first one where she would receive top billing and also would be asked to dance. As the feel-good nonsensical film turned out to be popular, it was the one that cemented Doris’ future as a leading lady of cinema. Unfortunately, Tea For Two is saddled with a ridiculous plot that only gets worse as it gets acted out.

Doris Day stars as the wealthy Westchester heiress Nanette Carter, a starstruck showbiz gal in 1929, whose entire inheritance is nearly lost in the 1929 stock market crash by her guardian Uncle Max (S.Z. Sakall). Nanette doesn’t know this, as she’s too wound up with her showbiz pals and the speech deficient fumbler Uncle Max doesn’t have the heart to tell her the bad news. When Larry Blair (Billy DeWolfe), her former boyfriend, who is a cheesy, two-faced, oily Broadway producer, gets her to put up $25,000 to back his play, the play’s songwriter and her love interest, Jimmy Smith (Gordon MacRae), gets her to replace Larry’s talentless sharp-tongued girlfriend Bea Darcy as the show’s star or else he threatens both he and Nan will pull out. Nanette’s Uncle Max agrees to advance her the money on the condition that for the next 48 hours she must answer “No” to every question. He’s prompted to do this by a suggestion from his lawyer William Early (Bill Goodwin) that it’s a way of earning $100,000. Things backfire, as Max loses the wager and, when it’s learned that Nan doesn’t have the dough to back the show, Larry pulls out and the show is taken over by dancer and stage choreographer Tommy (Gene Nelson). Nan’s wisecracking secretary (Eve Arden) then gets into the act and puts some romantic moves to get Uncle Max’s love starved lawyer Bill to back the show; it’s renamed “No, No, Nanette” and turns out to be a smash hit, and Jimmy and Nan tie the knot and live happily ever after.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”