(director: Mervyn LeRoy; screenwriters: from the book by Jane Allen & Mae Livingston/Andrew Solt; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Jack Ruggiero; music: Roy Webb; cast: John Wayne (Rusty Thomas), Claudette Colbert (Christopher “Kit” Madden), Don DeFore (Dink Watson), Anne Triola (Consuela “Connie” Callaghan), Dona Drake (Dolores), Thurston Hall (Henry Baldwin), Frank Puglia (Ortega), Louella Parsons (Herself), Harry Hayden (Randall, Albuquerque hotel clerk); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jesse Lasky; RKO; 1946)
“I had a lot of reservations about this vacuous comedy-romance.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It misses by a mile in its attempt to be another zany comedy á la “It Happened One Night.” The breezy romantic/comedy seems to be suffocating under Mervyn LeRoy’s conventional direction, and the comedy never sparkles between the romantic duo of Claudette Colbert and John Wayne. There was no discernible chemistry between the two, as there was merely a lot of huffing and puffing for hard to come by laughs.
Christopher Madden (Claudette Colbert) writes a best-selling romantic novel, “Here is Tomorrow,” for her first book and becomes a household name across America. Hollywood producer Henry Baldwin plans to make a movie of it starring Cary Grant and Lana Turner. Boarding a train from New York to Hollywood to work as a technical adviser for the film, she learns the studio can’t get her into first-class until the train reaches Chicago so she has to ride coach. Miss Madden also learns by telegram that Cary is unavailable. But after becoming depressed about the sad news, she is quickly heartened when she meets in coach a pair of Marine flyers, Captain Rusty Thomas (John Wayne) and Lieutenant Dink Watson (Don DeFore), heading back to their base in San Diego. Rusty seems perfect for the romantic Mark Winston role Cary was to play. Rather than tell Rusty who she really is, she goes under the name Kit Klotch. Meanwhile she listens to the two flyboys rip the novel, saying the author doesn’t know much about love. In Chicago, she decides to travel ticketless with her new companions, who switch trains, rather than continue on the same train but in first-class. After a silly mix up over a stolen orchid, she’s booted off the train at La Junta. The gallant flyers join her, and the trio manages to buy a broken down antique car to continue on their journey westward. Stopping off to stay with a large Mexican family who extol the virtues of living in America, Rusty flirts with the widower Ortega’s sexy daughter, Dolores, after Kit rebuffs his amorous advances.
The thin plotline is handled in a heavy-handed manner. It involves the confusion caused over the mistaken identity between Rusty and the woman he calls Kit. They find they are attracted to each other, but can’t close the deal because of the lie that keeps them apart. Stranded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Kit is forced to use her real name at the hotel to cash a check. This leads to her true identity being disclosed. When Rusty finds out that she lied he quickly returns to the base, and goes into a snit. But good-hearted Dink, always the loyal friend, works his magic to see if he can bring the two back together.
I had a lot of reservations about this vacuous comedy-romance, despite its taking a few good swipes at Hollywood’s studio system. It even pokes fun at Wayne, as DeFore says “They’re trying to make an actor out of you!” Jack Benny makes an uncredited cameo, while Louella Parsons plays herself as a gossip reporter.
REVIEWED ON 1/24/2005 GRADE: C