10 August 2010 | bkoganbing
Opera And Operations, Do They Mix?
In Grounds For Marriage the burning question of whether opera and operations form the basis of a successful marriage. When they were married Van Johnson didn't think so, but Kathryn Grayson is willing to give it another try.
The plot of The Barkleys Of Broadway is shifted over to the grand opera as opera star Grayson tries to win back Dr. Johnson. Not so easy because Johnson is now engaged to Paula Raymond who happens to be the daughter of his boss Lewis Stone. Another complication is that Johnson's older brother Barry Sullivan, a toy manufacturer and a lady's man always has had a thing for Grayson and now that she's free....?
The opera sequences are performed nicely and Reginald Owen is in the cast giving a great performance as the Metropolitan Opera Empresario, a caricature of the real life Rudolf Bing.
A real fixture of the Metropolitan Opera was also in the cast. Milton Cross whom I well remember as a lad who hosted the Met broadcasts on radio narrates a dream sequence of Carmen as the film plot is played against the background of Carmen. Grayson of course sings for herself, but the rest of the cast is dubbed in these exaggerated operatic voices. The whole thing is quite hilarious.
Grounds For Marriage is not one of Kathryn Grayson's more well known films, but she acquits herself in the comedy demanded of the part. Van Johnson is as good as he always is in these parts and he has his best moments giving a lecture to Paula Raymond's women's club about the common cold as a real cold overtakes him gradually.
After 59 years Grounds For Marriage holds up well, but with no sopranos on the screen today, I doubt if the film will ever be remade, so catch this version.