Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Latest 'Favorite Line From A Movie Of All Time'

The film is the 1954 MGM comedy "Susan Slept Here".   Dick Powell as a jaded Hollywood screenwriter, Mark Christopher.

Alvy Moore is his subservient, yes-man assistant, Virgil.

My girl Glenda Farrell as Powell's wise cracking, soused secretary, Maude.

Obscenely gorgeous Anne Francis plays Powell's girlfriend and Senator's daughter, Isabella.

Into this well oiled machine of dysfunction, is thrown a wrench in the form of perky/spunky juvenile delinquent, Debbie Reynolds as Susan.

Madcap hilarity ensues.

I'm going to take the largely unpopular opinion and say I really like this picture.  The story is ridiculously implausible, but the dialog is brilliant.  The performances, across the board, are appropriately broad.  The set of Mark's fab 50s Hollywood apartment (complete with wet bar) is absurdly groovy.  To top it all off, there is a minimalist- modern dream sequence that is divine (and I'm a push over for a good dream sequence).

The problem most people seem to have with it is the vast age difference between the reluctant love interests. The Powell character is supposed to be 35 (the actor was 50) and Reynolds' character 17 1/2 (she was 22 at the time of filming).  In an overwhelming number of reviews and opinions on the web that I've read, there is a compelling need to refer to this seventeen year spread as 'creepy'.  Perhaps they are reacting to the fact that Susan is under the age of majority.  By six months.  If I'm going to be honest, I really don't see much difference between 17 1/2 years of age and that magic number: 18.  As for the 17 year spread between them, that happens to have been the exact age difference between my parents.  My folks start sleeping together when she was 21 and he was 38 and they married two years later.  For all their problems (none of which had anything to do with their ages) they did just fine.  And they stayed married till the end of their lives.

Oops, as you can see, my love of dream sequences takes a backseat to my tendency to digress.  Never mind.  The picture is in glorious widescreen Technicolor, and has a Holiday theme.  Check it out.

I started all of this out with something about a line - well here it is.

The Set Up
Virgil: What do you know about Motherhood?
The Payoff
Maude:  I happened to have typed the script of Stella Dallas!


MJ said...

Did Susan have the Delinquent Comb?

normadesmond said...

that is a great line.

i'll do my best to catch it, though we differ in one area. i abhor dream sequences! to me, it usually means the writer(s) dropped acid, popped quaaludes and then had a ball writing whatever flew out of their asses. remember when tony soprano was in a coma and all those dream sequences? hated it.

sorry, i digressed. i will buck up and watch.

Miss Janey said...

Miss J has never seen this. That IS a great line!

TJB said...

I never realized that the look of the picture was so fab! (I actually sorta assumed it was B&W.) Must check this out...