15 July 2005 | silverscreen888
Major Comedy With Two Great Stars; Delightful and Wise
A a writer, i enjoy the spaciousness of this story. This is a sense-of-life portrait of an indomitable woman with a keen sense of Ionic humor, the ability to defend herself when verbally attacked and a very bright and honest mind. In her youth she had married a rich man's son and thought him strong enough to stand up to parental disapproval for the sake of his young actress wife. They had a child, a girl, then later he said he did not love her and called off the marriage. She has gotten by somehow for years; he raised the child. Only now the daughter, about to be married, wants her mother beside her at the wedding. Julia, a female in the United States where few people have any rights and females less, is cadging money off old philanderers who should know better for services not rendered; the latest is a friend of her husband's. She arrives at the house and charms everyone...from the first, the husband wonders why he had ever let her go. She finds her daughter's fiancée hopeless and makes sure she gets interested in a young painter instead. Somehow she gets involved on the way there with the Flying Ghenoccios, in whose balancing act she makes an hilarious debut atop a human pyramid, winning the eldest brother's heart. He shows up then too, complicating life for the husband. They end up nearly drowned and arguing vociferously before she finally accepts her husband's second proposal and his explanation that he had allowed his snobbish family to talk him out of love when he as young. All turns out well for all concerned; but not until after many enjoyable and sometimes farcical complications, and touching moments, occur including Julai's explanation of why "cylamen pink" would be a disaster as a color for bridesmaids' gowns. This film has luminous style in B/W and an expensive look about it, the MGM touch. The roster of those who contributed to this handsome and large-appearing production is a long and much-honored one: gowns by Irene, script adapted from Margery Sharp's "The Nutmeg Tree", direction by Jack Conway, music by Adolph Deutsch, set decorations by Edwin B. Willis, art direction by Daniel B. Cathcart and Cedric Gibbons, with cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg, script by Arthur Wimperis, Harry Riskin and William Ludwig, with adaptation by Monckton Hoffe and Gina Kaus. In the large cast Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon are the mature couple, and they are unarguably wonderful together, as always. Lucile Watson as his mother, Peter Lawford as the painter, Mary Boland as the mother of the Ghenoccios and Cesar Romero as her eldest Joe are all very good. Nigel Bruce, Elizabeth Taylor as the daughter, Reginald Owen, Ian Wolfe, Henry Stephenson, Veda Ann Borg and Phyliis Moore have less to do but all do what they are asked to do very well. This is a long, pleasant and occasionally brilliant satire of its own plot line--taking responsibility for one's own values. The rich and the deluded in this trenchant look at human errors and choices do not come off particularly well; virtues, though not exclusively, seem mostly to belong to those who deal with reality and not social-class expectations and conventions and appearances---in a nation that was not supposed to have any such folderol. Julia in the person of Greer Garson is a stiff breeze of fresh air; and in the brilliant and only modestly-stuffy person of Walter Pigeon we see a human edifice in exact need of that cleansing stir, motion and source of verbiage. She is obviously exactly the woman he should have married after all and should never have let go for any reason. Forget this is Greer Garson; the film would have been accepted by public and critics in 1938 as the beautifully-made gem it is; if it was made too late, it was not too late for its genial look at human honesties and foibles, but for a nation's folk no longer much interested in realities, as it s citizens had been during the late war. A true delight and a rare and major comedy appearance for the witty and delightful stars.