Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Grab Bag: VIVACIOUS LADY and NO TIME FOR COMEDY ""

Monday, October 21, 2013

Warner Archive Grab Bag: VIVACIOUS LADY and NO TIME FOR COMEDY

VIVACIOUS LADY(1938; George Stevens)
It's a very interesting alchemy of ingredients that allow for a film to become a classic(in the TCM sense I mean). A lot of it has to do with the cast. You can have a surreptitiously not-so-good film rise to prominence on its cast alone sometimes. Then there is the issue of quality writing, directing and acting. Films certainly endear themselves to the canon of great stuff based on those factors. The last and oddly quite important component is availability. If a great movie is difficult to see, it is then very hard for people to know about it and sing its praises - perpetuating its classic status. VIVACIOUS LADY is certainly a classic in that it is well-written, acted and directed and has an excellent cast. Sadly it has been a film that's stayed out of the limelight a bit due to lack of availability for years. It appears to have had a one-time vhs release years ago, but has had its reputation limited by said lack of availability(outside of the occasional TCM airing) for decades. This movie is one of those true gems that makes me ever so grateful to have Warner Archive around(more than my normal level of gratitude, which is a constant). 
I first "discovered" VIVACIOUS LADY a few years ago via TV. It has a great cast as I mentioned(Ginger Rogers, James Stewart, Charles Coburn, Beulah Bondi, Jack Carson) and is directed by the spectacular George Stevens, so it seemed like it had a lot of potential. Little did I know that it would charm and delight me beyond compare and become one of my favorite "discoveries" of the past 5 years. Such a wonderful film. 
The setup is quite simple -  an assistant biology professor(Jimmy Stewart) falls for a big city night club singer(Ginger Rogers), but when he attempts to introduce her to his conservative father things go awry. Ginger does her best to make a good impression, but fails quite comically. I've been a fan of Gingers forever, but she was rarely given the chance to be quite so awkward and yet so adore able and humorous at the same time. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It deserve ms a place on your classic film shelf alongside other favorites like THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, BRINGING UP BABY, and THE AWFUL TRUTH. One of my favorite romantic film releases from Warner Archive(along with ONE WAY PASSAGE). Truly magnificent.


NO TIME FOR COMEDY(1940; William Kieghly)
Very much like MR. SMITH(THE PLAYWRIGHT) GOES TO NEW YORK. James Stewart plays Minnesotan playwright Gaylord Esterbrook who comes to the big city when of of his plays is to be produced on stage. He falls for the lead actress(Rosalind Russell) and does his best to adapt to the Big Apple. I must say this is a pretty charming little film that has some of that aforementioned Capra charm.  It even contains the line "This is a very interesting situation" spoken by Stewart which can't help but recall IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE for a moment. I am a big fan of the brash, fast-talkin' "Hildy Johnson mode" Rosalind Russell, but the softer sweeter Russell contained here was quite refreshing I must say. Charlie Ruggles makes an decent enough third fiddle when he shows up about half way through. The script, by Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein(CASABLANCA)is light yet thoughtful and even takes an unexpected turn at one point. It's a tough movie in some ways in that it gives James Stewart a strangely unsympathetic role(albeit one that plays into his small-town boy character). In the end, NO TIME FOR COMEDY kind of lives up to it's title.

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