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Sunday, December 25, 2011

BON VOYAGE (1962)

There are hints of an attempt to break past the bounds of Family-Friendly-Fare in this Walt Disney Production about solid Midwesterners (Fred MacMurray & Jane Wyman) who take the kids along on a long-planned trip to Paris. But any spark gets smothered by the hangdog, second-hand look that was studio house style under boss Ron Miller, Walt’s son-in-law. As Disney turned his attention to theme parks (with a few exceptions like MARY POPPINS/’64 and JUNGLE BOOK/’67), cinematic flat-lining set in, especially on films with MacMurray as a bargain-basement James Stewart (and alter-ego Walt). This one dribbles on for over two hours with remarkably little location shooting to buttress the stock footage & coarsely handled studio mock-ups & process transparencies. And what other studio was still shooting in Academy Ratio in 1962? Yet, so many odd events transpire. Mom looks ready to throw a party celebrating daughter Deborah Walley’s budding sexuality. "All stirred up,’ is the terminology. Dad gets drunk not once, as a gag, but three times, just about every time he goes out. Little Kevin Corcoran gets to take a pee touring the Paris sewers in the Paris sewers; and big brother Tommy Kirk does even better, sharing a prostitute with dear old Dad. Okay, it happens consecutively; and things don’t progress past a cafe demitasse, but still . . . in a 1962 Disney pic! But who would notice amid the tone-deaf dialogue, thuddingly obvious character development and appalling technical work?

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Vincente Minnelli’s THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE/’58 tackles a lot of the same themes with swank, charm & the elegant comic touch of Rex Harrison & Kay Kendall worrying over the over-taxed hormones of Sandra Dee & John Saxon.

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