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Saturday, May 26, 2012

TEA FOR TWO (1950)

After filming two version of NO, NO, NANETTE (1930 & ‘40), Warners dusted it off for a third go ‘round, only to throw away everything except for a few of the old Vincent Youman songs. And even these were buttressed with some Gershwin & Harry Warren standards. (Note how the writers’ billing card on the DVD release smudges out the ‘adapted from’ credit, and a promised Rodgers & Hart tune, ‘Here In My Heart,’ never materializes.) It doesn’t sound promising, but this typically dopey Doris Day vehicle is lightweight fun most of the way. We jump back to 1929, none too rigorously to judge by the clothes & design, with Doris playing a Trust Fund baby who enjoys singing & dancing lessons . . . and her instructors (Gordon MacRae & Gene Nelson). The story obstacle that passes for a plot is her promise to finance (and star in) the boys’ new B’way show, unaware that she’s lost the family fortune in the Stock Market Crash. Day had initially been teamed with beefy Jack Carson, but now she’s more appropriately partnered with smooth MacRae & athletic Nelson. (The latter puts Doris thru some of the toughest dance routines of her career.) But what lifts this one (slightly) above her norm are the comics: Eve Arden as a wisecracking gal-pal; S. Z. Sakall as her Uncle/Advisor; and Billy De Wolfe as her fey femme-chasing phony fiancé. Arden doesn’t get much help from the script, working on sheer attitude; but De Wolfe shows off some alarmingly funny flexibility; and Sakall actually gets some good gags & funny bits to chew on. Usually, he had nothing but his waddles to shake, though that may have been enough for his German fan base. (Note the poster, above.) And don’t skip the TOM & JERRY cartoon, TEE FOR TWO, in the Extras. Its violent quotient might give ITCHY AND SCRATCHY pause.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: You know that gimmicky Piano POV shot; the one that looks out at the player? Director David Butler unwisely adds the piano keyboard to the bottom of the frame. Very odd; and it exposes MacRae's digit fakery.

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