Happy Go Lucky
The main gag has a phony heiress (Mary Martin) pitch a paste bracelet overboard for the press, she’s here to catch a husband, rich. This is shortly taken up by Hitchcock in Lifeboat.
A very blasé T.S. at the New York Times thought it was not “sooper-dooper entertainment”.
Dick Powell, with his pal Eddie Bracken anticipating Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (and making this the next best thing to a Bogart musical), helps her to a millionaire (Rudy Vallee) who mixes his own drink from a complex recipe, sips it, tears the paper up and orders a dry martini.
She takes him out on a picnic and croons “Let’s Get Lost” at him over a sandwich, accompanied by “The Loesser-McHugh Orchestra” on a portable radio. A bug gets in her dress and it rains.
Dinner’s a disaster when she cooks it (well ahead of Hawks’ Man’s Favorite Sport? and Kennedy’s The Rounders), and “getting him oiled” gets her more so.
This takes place in the British West Indies, so there’s a voodoo priestess large enough to swing half-a-dozen suitors. Her husband returns, she prepares a voodoo love potion, and this in a flit gun goes the hotel rounds, finally landing the millionaire. He, of course, is not the girl’s real inheritance.
Bracken’s amour is the girl’s pal Betty Hutton, “The Blonde Bombshell”, as her alarming press photo has it, a performer at the Royal Palms Hotel. “Murder, He Says”, she sings, also “The Fuddy-Duddy Watchmaker”, who is Clem Bevans as Mr. Smith, the scientific leg man.
Under the sign of Schumann, the Philistine who kills David.
Gimpel as Walter Sveldon plays Carnaval at a recital attended by the assassin, the piece is earlier played by the victim.
Jane Eyre has a substantial part of the structure to bear, the opening is much like the ending of Stevenson’s film, a wartime vision of war’s end.
Crowther noted the resemblance to Negulesco’s Humoresque, without knowing why.
Miss Sadie Thompson
Palm trees, surf, sand, Marines bathing in the sea. One of them plays the harmonica while sitting under a palm tree. The others emerge from the water, Pvt. Edwards (Charles Bronson) spits a thin stream at the musician. They walk back along the tracks to their jeep and return to base.
The sign over the communications hut reads THROUGH THESE PORTALS / PASS THE FASTEST MORTALS. Sgt. O’Hara (Aldo Ray) drives them back to the beach and on to the pier, where they park beside a civilian car. Bernhardt’s 3-D camera gives an extensive view of the pier and the bay and green mountains (of Kauai, standing in for Samoa). A launch’s orange deck fills the screen. The missionary Alfred Davidson (Jose Ferrer) states his position on the relations between GIs and natives on these islands, they are “volcanic.” The Marines are expecting a refrigeration unit. They get Sadie Thompson (Rita Hayworth) on another launch. “Now that’s a piece of equipment that’s really equipment,” says one. Pvt. Edwards volunteers, “I’ll unpack it.”
Typically of Columbia’s 3-D productions, a long lens is chosen (if one is not mistaken) to gain an intimate luster and at the same time give an equable 3-D effect. The Marines declare Sadie “classified,” take her in tow and toss out the mail bag without stopping.
At Bill’s Place, the local bar, they hole up for the nonce. “That was a fast tour,” says Sadie. O’Hara explains, “most of the island’s restricted.”
Still laying the scene, the script scuds a little theme along. “There’s enough sweat in the South Pacific to float a battleship,” says O’Hara, and later Pvt. Edwards says to him, “What do you want me to do, evaporate?”
Mr. Davidson compares physical maladies to immorality and evil, considering the former “easy to fight.” A Sabbath organ service is interrupted by the Marines singing over at Bill’s Place. The camera tracks in on a tray full of glasses filled with pineapple juice. The boys want beer, but Sadie demurs when advised not to condone it on Sunday. Bernhardt’s islanders bear out the veracity of Gauguin’s paintings. A carved wooden sign across the bar reads BILL’S COCONUT GROVE. The S.S. Tulagi is quarantined for a week, stranding Davidson and Sadie. Quoting a Chinese expression, Sadie translates it as “I should care.”
A former GI runs Horn’s Hotel & General Store, where the Marines put Sadie up. Horn’s wife Ameena is susceptible to the moral blandishments of Mr. Davidson, but not Horn. “Ameena,” he tells her, “you’re a washout.”
The Marines have been on the island for as much as three years after the war, and Sadie must fend them off. “Relax, fellas,” she says, “you’ll burn out your bearings.” All the suites at Horn’s are taken, but the USMC turns up one more used as a storeroom. “Aw,” Sgt. O’Hara reassures Sadie, “we’ve cleaned up islands in minutes.”
Now it rains. Sadie sings a little song to the children, which they will later sing to an appreciative Mr. Davidson and his wife. Its theme is Judge not lest ye be judged, and the words are “Hear no evil,” etc. Mr. Davidson says grace at table but is interrupted by the sound of a jazz trumpet coming from the phonograph in Sadie’s room. The Marines arrive, boisterous and soaking wet. “Come on in,” says cheerful Sadie, “and get wrung out.”
“Moral standards can never be high enough,” opines Mr. Davidson. On the other hand, there is Sadie, who has occasion to say, “I’m so healthy it hurts.”
The center of Bernhardt’s 3-D is a vortex of Marines surrounding Sadie, who has evidently been declassified. She easily laughs off a too-insistent suitor with the remark, “Listen, when I want you I’ll rattle your cage.” She dances with Sgt. O’Hara. The whole scene prefigures Apocalypse Now, in a way.
The missionaries Mr. Davidson and Dr. MacPhail (Russell Collins) are discussing their work and sundry other matters. Horn the hotelier condemns the rat race after money back home, and “gadgets that never bring any peace of mind.” Mr. Davidson remembers Sadie as a prostitute at the Emerald Club, a place closed at his instigation. He is a fighter against corruption. Dr. MacPhail disagrees. He sees two evils, immorality and intolerance. This raises Mr. Davidson’s ire, he rails against “men of science like Freud and Adler and Jung who are destroying moral values by denying individual responsibility.” It’s right vs. wrong, for him. Horn horns in, wondering why Sadie has earned Mr. Davidson’s wrath for being “a breezy dame.” Dr. MacPhail diagnoses his colleague’s problem as a case of “hidden desire” for what he censures in others.
Sadie in the vortex joyfully sings, “The Heat Is On,” wearing an orange dress, green jewelry and beads of sweat. The party continues at the hotel, but when Horn advises them that guests are sleeping, Sadie gladly admits, “complaint registered,” and they adjourn to her room. In the middle of the rainy night, the Marines begin to reminisce about girls they’ve met, but Sadie remonstrates, “Oh, come off it you guys, I don’t go for that dreaming stuff.” She sings “Blue Pacific Blues” to harmonica accompaniment. Mr. Davidson lowers the boom, Sgt. O’Hara sees red, and suddenly the mood has shifted to the McCarthy hearings. Mr. Davidson interrogates Sadie and frankly tells her, “You’re a prostitute!” She loses her temper at his impertinence. “He’ll find out what it means when I get mad!” Now comes the intermission while the 3-D reels are changed.
The Governor (Wilton Graff) has to treat everyone fairly, but Mr. Davidson is adamant. “I wasn’t appointed to my job, I created it,” he tells the Governor, who replies, “I envy you.”
Sgt. O’Hara brings Sadie apples from the quartermaster, and finds her in a pink dress and packed up having volunteered to move to the village in the interest of harmony. “Well,” she says, “look me up in my little grass shack if you ever get to town.” Dr. MacPhail observes of Mr. Davidson, “the founder of our religion was not so squeamish.” The tribal council sits in a semi-circle and tells Sgt. O’Hara, “no room.” Sadie is taboo, owing to another incident not involving her that has made the council wary. “Snap out of it,” the sergeant tells her, “you won’t be out in the rain.” Mrs. Davidson gives her a cold look, and Sadie exclaims, “save me from females.” Sgt. O’Hara makes his move. “Believe me,” Sadie tells him, “friendship lasts much longer than love.” “Yeah,” he answers her, “but it ain’t as much fun.” She has a job offer in New Caledonia, he’s going to start in the building industry when he leaves the service and moves to Australia, she’ll be set for life. “Look,” she tells him, “I pay my own way.” On the other hand, “what’s the difference where I go as long as I get there?”
The Governor’s order comes down, deporting her to San Francisco “for the public good.” She blames Davidson. “I’ll show that miserable creep!” O’Hara presses his point, saying, “I know you enough not to want to lose you.” Sadie goes to see the Governor, who sits at his desk (left foreground) facing her (right foreground) with the great gulf between them fixed by an open door in the background onto the veranda with foliage and rain at the end of it. What did she do? She sang in a nightclub closed by police. Davidson’s mind is in the gutter. The Governor dismisses her. She goes to Davidson and apologizes, but he says, “I’m afraid I can’t let you stay here.” A very considerable scene pulverizes her under Davidson’s questioning. Why can’t she go back to San Francisco? She knows a big important man there, a nightclub owner. Not a policeman? A friend of hers stabbed a man, she wants to start over. Davidson says, “you must accept your punishment for the life you’ve led,” and, “there is no escaping punishment.” She resists. Alone in her room drowning her sorrows, she’s visited by O’Hara. “Yeah, I gotta go to jail,” she mutters to him. He goes to see Davidson, and comes back informed. “I knew the Emerald!” he tells her, and drops her like a filthy rag. Darkness descends upon her in the hotel kitchen, where Davidson sits down next to her and recites, “The Lord is my shepherd.” At the words “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies,” her face in close-up clenches with spiritual relief. At the end of the psalm, she is converted.
This poor Job of it has taken to her Bible. A dissolve on her is beautifully made to waves in a cove, and tilts up to Davidson and her standing together on the cliff. That night the missionaries are honored with a tribal dance, a vortex with a girl at the center, joined by a man. Our Tartuffe looks at their intimate dance with dimly awakened eyes.
The next day, wearing a white blouse, she is determined to return to Frisco. O’Hara has bethought himself, says, “I had no right to sound off,” but her mind is made up. Davidson enters. Across the room, Rita Hayworth gives an expression to her face in the Garbo manner, looking beyond all this.
Alone with Davidson, she is surprised to find him making advances toward her. She refuses, he presses her down on the bed, and Bernhardt dissolves again to the cove. In a sequence filmed at a distance, natives have discovered the body of Mr. Davidson, a suicide. The remoteness of the effect is as though he had “evaporated.”
Sadie is wearing her pink dress, and hasn’t heard. “My, my, doesn’t the world look fresh and clean today,” she observes. “Look at that sky, as if not a thing was going on under it.” Dr. MacPhail strengthens her conversion with a clarification of Davidson’s failings, “He wasn’t able to practice what he preached.” He tells her, “you can’t run away from yourself,” but perhaps remembering something she herself had earlier said, Sadie resolves to go to Australia with Sgt. O’Hara.
In a general sense, Bernhardt’s approach works from the inside out of a script that unfailingly sounds every note in the vast gamut of considerations it ruminates upon. The secret of the 3-D treatment is the spaciousness it affords such a robust handling without disturbing the central line of thought.
Hayworth and Ferrer are equally matched, as their final meeting shows. Aldo Ray is particularly keen in this role, and even rather resembles Tab Hunter. He’s called upon to physically dominate the other Marines early on, and does so.
Hayworth modulates through frowsy charm (she has when first seen evidently been shipbound for a time) to hot abandon and fury, collapsing into weariness and depression by degrees with rings under her eyes. Following her conversion, she becomes a self-possessed young woman, and afterward a brittle jade briefly, until this faceted persona “evaporates” in its essential joy.
Ferrer only lends himself to the comedy in the last moments of his performance, with an almost imperceptible representation of the ridiculous lover in full flight. All the rest is a stalwart posture not allowed to mitigate the character’s internal glacial shifts by any satire whatsoever.
A romance of wartime London.
The Continental Ballet (Season 1944) presents Chopin with two leading girls in front of the corps (to which Gaby belongs) and male dancers. Gaby and her Germanic roommate Elsa are divided on her marriage to a GI.
Bureaucratic formalities prevent the wedding before D-Day, she has strict Catholic parents lately bombed while fleeing. The GI dies, she consoles other Allied fighting men.
The GI lives, her shame is complete, a buzz bomb nearly obliterates her. “All this isn’t us,” he says.
Variety had a fine view of Bernhardt’s “keen, outstanding directorial handling”.
Scene in an air raid shelter. “Oh, blimey! Why don’t Hitler get married and settle down?”
Hackett, Goodrich & Lederer, from Behrman, Rameau & Froeschel on Robert E. Sherwood (Waterloo Bridge).