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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SMALL TOWN GIRL (1953)

Heard this one before? Reckless big city sophisticate gets stuck in a backwater town, but soon finds love and a new appreciation for those honest Yankee (or Dixie) values that made America great! Recent iterations come in female & male varieties (i.e. NEW IN TOWN/’09; DOC HOLLYWOOD/’91), but it was old even when this wan little musical appeared. Jane Powell (looking very pretty) is the titular girl & Farley Granger (also looking very pretty) is the rich city snob caught speeding on the night of town’s ‘box social.’ The gimmick has Granger bidding for Powell’s box right from his jail call. And there’s no double-entendre, it’s all too cute for words. That was the specialty of producer Joe Pasternak whose culturally out-of-touch, relentlessly wholesome musicals gave the whole genre a bad name. Yet, the film retains a bit of status for a couple of nutjob Busby Berkeley numbers. One finds Ann Miller tapping around an orchestra of arms & instruments looming out of the floor. (‘Watch that clarinet, bub!’) And the other features bouncy Bobby Van hopping all around town after Powell dumps him. (People remember this as a one-shot, but it actually takes five.) Even odder is the third act which goes completely missing! A shame since tiny Powell & tall Granger make a sweet pair once they decide to get along. Odder still, Granger’s next project would be Luchino Visconti’s SENSO/’54!

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