December 1942: A Night To Remember

Oh, this is just perfect. It’s a screwball comedy about a couple moving into a haunted tenement house… OR IS IT!??!

Things move at a brisk pace, and if all the individual gags aren’t exactly genius, it all just kind of works.

“Jeff! Don’t be a fool!”

“Don’t be silly. I’ve always been a fool.”


It turns into a marvellously convoluted mystery and it’s hugely amusing. Loretta Young and Brian Aherne turn in wonderfully over-the-top performances.

It’s an almost perfect little thing.

A Night To Remember. Richard Wallace. 1942.

Popular movies in December 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
5434 8.0 Random Harvest
2442 7.6 Went the Day Well?
215 7.5 4 passi fra le nuvole
13966 7.4 Cat People
543 7.2 Journey for Margaret
445 6.9 Thunder Rock
3091 6.9 The Black Swan
386 6.8 Whistling in Dixie
376 6.8 Tennessee Johnson
1617 6.8 Keeper of the Flame

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

November 1942: Once Upon a Honeymoon

Ginger Rogers! Cary Grant! In a romantic Nazi intrigue comedy!

Director Leo McCarey was a veteran director with films like Duck Soup on his resumé, but hadn’t really been super-successful. (He did do An Affair To Remember later, though.)

And… this movie tries so hard. It’s got so much going for it, like Rogers’ preposterous English accent, and Grant hamming it up, and a bunch of scenes that are screwier than a Black & Decker. But somehow the pacing is just off. Instead of jokes landing, I find myself going “Yes, I can see that’s a very good bit. Quite amusing”.

Everything should just have been faster and wilder. It’s like they could have excised one third of the frames out of every scene and this would almost have been a classic.

Well, for the first third, at least. Then it kinda goes totally off the rails. And this DVD restoration shifts between scenes that have pretty good film quality and some that are atrocious, and the latter bits are scenes that are painfully bad. So was this put together from footage found on the editing room floor?

Once Upon a Honeymoon. Leo McCarey. 1942.

Popular movies in November 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
406184 8.6 Casablanca
2496 7.7 Gentleman Jim
8779 7.7 The Palm Beach Story
4205 7.3 Road to Morocco
2426 7.3 You Were Never Lovelier
541 7.3 ‘Neath Brooklyn Bridge
469 6.9 Springtime in the Rockies
2014 6.5 Once Upon a Honeymoon
247 6.4 Seven Sweethearts
257 6.2 Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

October 1942: Now, Voyager

Ooo! Bette Davis!

I thought that perhaps I’d seen this before, but if so, it must be a long, long time ago, because scenes seem familiar in vague flashes. Perhaps I saw it as a child?

But, man, Davis is amazing here. Didn’t get the Oscar, of course.

Isn’t it weird how it’s more difficult to find something to write about good movies than bad movies? With bad movies you can just kvetch away with abandon, but this is a kinda perfect movie. Well, you could quibble with the clichéd portrayal of the controlling and venomous mother, but it’s done so perfectly that you just have to admire the artistry.

Oh, and bonus: This has Mary Wickes as the enterprising nurse.

Now, Voyager. Irving Rapper. 1942.

Popular movies in October 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
11715 8.1 Now, Voyager
1724 7.8 Who Done It?
2308 7.2 For Me and My Gal
4940 7.2 I Married a Witch
1143 7.0 George Washington Slept Here
2783 6.8 Flying Tigers
836 6.8 Eyes in the Night
611 6.8 The Moon and Sixpence
519 6.5 The Falcon’s Brother
660 6.4 Night Monster

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

September 1942: The Major and the Minor

What could be more appropriate after watching a movie with Fred Astaire than a movie with Ginger Rogers?

Had they stopped working together by this time? The computer says yes, almost.

This is directed by Billy Wilder, who’d worked in movies a lot before this, but it’s only his second directorial feature (and the one before this was in 1934). He’d go on to become one of the most well-regarded Hollywood directors, of course (doing all those Marilyn Monroe pictures)…

This is really funny and so out of left field. It’s so weird. And super, super, super creepy! Who on Earth OK’d this? But perhaps it’s more self-aware than the kooky madcap icky surface plot appears, but to explain that means that I have to something that I really hate to do, which is to give a plot recap:

Rogers’s character leaves New York because she’s fed up with being sexually harassed. To get a reduced-price train ticket, she poses as a 12 year girl (and in the process, she overhears a boy talking about a new hit book called “Why I Hate Women”). She’s basically trapped in that role by several characters for most of the movie, but that doesn’t mean that the sexual advances stop: Several cadets (and what age are they supposed to be? teenagers, I guess, but certainly older than 12? who can say?) at a military base maul her, and her protector’s fatherly seems to slip into a knowing zone at points.

So is this really a scathing critique of misogyny and sexual exploitation of children, or is it a…

Really creepy movie?

I don’t know, but it’s funnier if read the first way. I laughed a lot.

It was apparently written with Cary Grant in mind as the avuncular figure, but he wisely passed?

The Major and the Minor. Billy Wilder. 1942.

Popular movies in September 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
4600 7.6 The Major and the Minor
3942 7.3 In Which We Serve
4165 7.1 The Glass Key
935 7.1 My Sister Eileen
676 7.0 Orchestra Wives
3354 6.9 Across the Pacific
1563 6.9 Desperate Journey
3060 6.8 Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
228 6.7 Counter-Espionage
232 6.6 The War Against Mrs. Hadley

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

August 1942: Holiday Inn

Yes! Fred Astaire! Bing Crosby! Irving Berlin! Bluray!

I wonder whether I have the release date wrong here… or did they really release an Xmas movie in August? Watching movies by month I wanted to experience the change of the seasons, but…

Anyway, it won the Oscar for best song: White Christmas, and no surprise.

The setting is the classic musical setting: In a theatre. That makes it a lot easier to drop some musical numbers in at random without having to work the pieces into the actual story line.

The director, Mark Sandrich, had done a series of extremely successful (both at the box office and otherwise) musicals in the 30s. I mean… The Gay Divorcee, Shall We Dance, Follow the Fleet… And this is very much in that mode.

Which is fine by me: This is non-stop amusement with the occasional hilarious moment. It’s just so well made; it’s just perfection. Really the thing to distract you from what’s going on in Europe (except for a brief moving collage in the last third).

Virginia Dale isn’t a name I’m familiar with, but watching her dance with Fred Astaire is a thrill. They really fit together wonderfully.

There’s a plot of sorts in between the various bits that doesn’t really amount to much of anything, but it’s much better put together than these things usually are. It’s a movie that’s obviously been put together as a simple showcase for Bing Crosby, but it ends up being kinda perfect.

(But it might be problematic because of the blackface scenes. It’s interesting that they intercut this scene with scenes of the black maid (who is called, yes, “Mamie” (played wonderfully by Louise Beavers (last seen in Reap The Wild Wind))) and the maid’s children singing along with the song.)

This movie could perhaps have been a bit tighter in the last third, where it gets more plot heavy.

FSVO plot and heavy.

The meta bits at the very end, where Bing enters the set where they’re recreating his inn (which is, of course, just the inn set) is whee.

Holiday Inn. Mark Sandrich. 1942.

Popular movies in August 1942 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
9299 7.6 Holiday Inn
1812 7.6 Pardon My Sarong
5515 7.6 The Talk of the Town
1333 7.4 Tales of Manhattan
99419 7.3 Bambi
422 7.0 Smart Alecks
1412 7.0 Wake Island
225 6.9 The Goose Steps Out
492 6.7 The Gay Sisters
944 6.5 The Big Street

This blog post is part of the Decade series.