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June 17, 2005

Here Comes the Groom/Just for You

Here Comes the Groom/Just for You
Frank Capra -1952/ Elliot Nugent - 1952
Paramount DVD

Am I a "completist"? Not really. Do I try to see as much as I can by favored directors? Yes. Sometimes to diminishing returns.

Such is the case with Here Comes the Groom, a film Frank Capra made primarily to fulfill his brief contract with Paramount. This is the kind of film that helps illustrate the difference between a classic and "an old movie".

As many times as I've seen it, I still get engaged by It Happened One Night. I might be channel surfing, or in one case, eyeing it on the television at my neighborhood bodega in Denver. In any case, I know the story of journalist Clark Cable and runaway heiress Claudette Colbert almost by heart. No matter how many times I see Colbert flash her leg to hitch a ride, the film still makes me laught. I love this film enough to have it in my collection.

With Here Comes the Groom, all the contrivances of the story appear, well, contrived. It doesn't help that the leads, Bing Crosby, Jane Wyman, and Franchot Tone all are clearly too old to play the parts of the itinerant reporter, his long-suffering girl friend and an eligible bachelor. There were a couple of mild chuckles when Bing plays a record with the recorded letter of Wyman, and a minuture Wyman appears standing on the rotating disc, a fuzzy image, a low tech prototype of Yoda (thanks Lumena}, repeting gestures when the record needle gets stuck. Othewise, I don't care if it won an Academy Award, I can go through life without hearing "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" again. This may be the most overplayed song in one movie with the possible exception of "Over the Rainbow" in I Wake Up Screaming. (Yeah, that's right, more times than in Wizard of Oz.)

Just for You gets points from me mostly for having Natalie Wood appear as Bing Crosby's daughter. Not a girl, not a woman, to paraphrase a recent song, but you see glimpses of a 14 year old who will be a heartbreaker when she meets Nick Ray in three years for Rebel. Elliot Nugent made the kinds of films that are entertaining but not memorable with stars like Bob Hope and Danny Kaye. Nice use of color in the stage productions, but Bing Crosby was never a compelling screen presence for me.

Posted by peter at June 17, 2005 04:45 PM