15 October 2016 | dougdoepke
Plot--A top-notch law student is courted by a powerful legal firm. Trouble is the budding legal eagle gets silly drunk on just a taste of alcohol. Of course, that creates problems in the boozy world of formal dinners. And, oh yes, something about a Chinese man losing his apartment because of discrimination gets dropped in.
I was curious. The production has two of MGM's brightest young stars, Taylor and Johnson, yet I'd never heard of the movie. Now I know why. It can't make up its mind what it is— comedy, social conscience, drama. Okay, some movies manage to combine the three into a luminous package, like The Apartment (1960). But that film benefited from the versatile Jack Lemmon in the lead. Now Van Johnson could do light comedy, especially with engaging dialog. And that's the trouble here. In a difficult role that calls for traversing from bibulous one-liners to sober righteousness he looks dour throughout, turning many of his sudden inebriated moments from humor to confusion. I'm not sure what the cause was, but the results look like miscasting. Trouble is that his is the central role, and thusly the movie as a whole is compromised.
Not that the script is any help, especially the fancy dinner scene that's almost painful in its misplaced humor. Then too, the pregnant premise—getting drunk on a mere whiff of alcohol —is a tricky one that might work in a different context, but not here. Anyway, Taylor's gorgeous, while about every middle-aged actor in Hollywood picks up a payday. But whatever impresario Krasna was reaching for just doesn't come off. Good thing both stars went on to bigger and better things.