4 June 2003 | gregcouture
Lana in Technicolor AND glorious black-and-white!
This one is much more fun than its inevitable detractors might lead you to believe. The cast, including Jean Hagen (who almost stole the show with her unforgettable Lina Lamont in "Singin' in the Rain"), Louis Calhern strutting his elegant stuff as a superannuated Brazilian, a very young Rita Moreno, the handsome John Lund once again playing a stuffy moneybags (as he did a little later in "High Society"), and Dorothy Neumann who gets some of the best of Isobel Lennart's cleverly scripted lines (with digs at psychoanalysts and their patented brand of voodoo.)
The story is pure Hollywood dream manufacture but it's so handsomely mounted and lushly photographed by that master of the color cameras, Joseph Ruttenberg, that objecting to it prompts the inevitable question, "Why in the heck did you watch it if you weren't in the mood for something with no relationship whatsoever to the real world?" Lana looks gorgeous and Helen Rose had the inspiration to dress her only in black and white and combinations thereof, contrasting her more than strikingly against the ultra-lush Technicolor trappings. She gets to do an ultra-smooth samba with her co-star Ricardo Montalban, who had the good fortune to step in as a replacement for the originally cast Fernando Lamas, whose real-life romance with Luscious Lana had very publicly come to a rocky impasse. Mervyn LeRoy, who had the distinction of mentoring Lana in the earliest days of her Hollywood ascendancy, directs with that machine-tooled efficiency that a vehicle of this kind must have if it is going to come anywhere near to a suspension of disbelief. With all of the first-class elements that Miss Turner was traditionally surrounded during her days as M-G-M's reigning boxoffice beauty, this is the kind of escapism that is, perhaps lamentably, a thing of a very distant past. When you're feeling benign, this one is fine!