Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive Grab Bag - Greer Garson Double ""

Monday, June 23, 2014

Warner Archive Grab Bag - Greer Garson Double

STRANGE LADY IN TOWN (1955; Mervyn LeRoy)
"A woman doctor?"
There's just something do great for me about a movie that starts out with a solid title tune. It just sets the mood and gets your energy in the right place for what is coming. STRANGE LADY IN TOWN kicks off with one heckuva catchy song sung by the great Frankie Laine. You may or may not recognize that name, but you know the voice for sure. He is perhaps most famous for singing the theme to the RAWHIDE TV show. He also belted out the credit croons for lots of other westerns like 3:10 TO YUMA, GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL and MAN WITHOUT A STAR.
So once Frankie Laine does his thing it's easy enough to find one's footing with a movie starring Greer Garson, Dana Andrews and Cameron Mitchell (and Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez from RIO BRAVO). The title STRANGE LADY IN TOWN and what I had read about the movie made me think it might be like a western version of Sirk's ALL I DESIRE or something. It's not really that though, it's more a battle of the sexes romance kinda deal. You see Greer Garson plays a lady doctor who settles down in Santa Fe only to learn that there is another physician in town. Dr. Rourke O'Brien (Dana Andrews) is his name and he's quite the chauvinist. Not only does he think that a woman shouldn't be a doctor, but he further believes that their only duties should be to make men comfortable and have their babies. When he finally meets the fiery red-headed lady doctor it's immediately clear that they have totally different philosophies on medicine. For one thing, she believes in the use of antiseptics and he thinks that to be a bunch of hooey (so clearly O'Brien ain't too sharp). There's plenty of room for mind-changing and romance though here and the movie has a decent go at it.

STRANGE LADY IN TOWN can be purchased from Warner Archive here:

SCANDAL AT SCOURIE (1953; Jean Negulesco)
Here are a few things that piqued my interest with this one. First, it has Walter Pidgeon in it. I've really been making my down a Pidgeon rabbit hole since I first saw him in one of my favorite films ever- FORBIDDEN PLANET. For the longest time that was all I associated him with. Then along comes Warner Archive and they put out stuff like the NICK CARTER movies and MADAME CURIE and I find myself digging him even more. CURIE also stars he and Ms. Garson as does their most famous collaboration MRS. MINIVER. So there's Walter Pidgeon and then you've got him paired with Greer Garson (and they obviously make a good duo) and on top of that you have director Jean Negulesco who is kind of a favorite of mine for some reason. I've loved him ever since I saw his masterpiece of melodramatic trash called THE BEST OF EVERYTHING. That film is just crazy and over the top and awesome (and is an acknowledged influence on MAD MEN I believe as well). He's responsible for lots of great melodramas and some great noir films as well (THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS and THREE STRANGERS for example). That said, when I see his name on a movie I am often willing to give it a chance. He's like a poor man's Douglas Sirk at times so his films are often quite entertaining at the very least. the "scandal" in this particular case has to do with the question of the religious upbringing of a Catholic little orphan girl who is adopted by a prominent couple in an all-Protestant community in a small town in Ottowa, Canada. This causes something of a stir mostly with Walter Pidgeon's character as he is running for the Ottowa Parliment and the girl's arrival complicates things. Negulesco's film is much more low-key in its melodrama than you're average Sirk movie for sure. Perhaps it's the reserved nature of these particular Canadian characters, but I hoped this might go a little more over the top. As it stands, it's a very gentle drama with a sweet little girl at the center.
Agnes Moorehead has an enjoyable (if poorly accented) role as a nun early on in the film.

SCANDAL AT SCOURIE can be purchased from Warner Archive here:

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