8 January 2000 | stryker-5
"I'm The Girl Who Brought Chintz Curtains Into Your Life!"
The three adult daughters of a Connecticut music teacher are anxious to encounter love and marriage. Each of them gets to the altar, but fate deals them some strange experiences along the way.
Laurie, Amy and Fran (Doris Day, Elisabeth Fraser and Dorothy Malone, respectively) choose men of widely contrasting personalities. Laurie plumps for Alex (Gig Young), the tall, handsome extrovert with musical ability. Fran settles for Bob, the dependable realtor (Alan Hale). If Amy's choice is a surprising one, it is ultimately vindicated by events. Then, of course, there is the surprise elopement ...
"Homes like these are the backbone of the nation," wisecracks Barney, the sarcastic interloper. His working-class Italian American sense of irony soon clashes with Laurie's blonde bourgeois rectitude. Barney describes himself as a 'stumblebum', and the part of the sharp-tongued loser is ideal for nighclub-singing, self-despising Frank Sinatra. "Pressed pants are constitutional in Connecticut," explains Laurie as she endeavours to reform the world-weary Barney, but Barney will never fit comfortably into Connecticut's refined social setting.
Songs are what the film is all about. No fewer than two songwriters attach themselves to the musical Tuttle girls, and the action is frequently punctuated by singing. Sinatra and Day even get to promote their latest Hit Parade offerings. The title song is deservedly famous, and Frankie does two excellent torch songs - the first in classic Sinatra mode, alone in a bar with an upright piano and a hat on the back of his head for a rueful rendition of Porter's "Just One Of Those Things", the other a night club crooning of the one and only "Set 'Em Up Joe".
The film has a great look. Shot by Director of Photography Ted McCord in a sumptuously rich Warnercolor, the images are pleasing to the eye. The 'puppy' scene which introduces Laurie to Alex is especially attractive. It seems always to have been a term of La Day's contracts that she must get to wear pretty clothes, and here the effect is sensational as she flounces past a blue house in a radiant orange New Look dress.
The set of the Tuttles' suburban avenue is breath-taking. A 'real' street with gardens and picket fences was constructed on Warners' back lot, and we see it transforming as the seasons turn. The location scene, the clam-bake on the beach, is one of the film's best-looking passages.
Though this is merely a popular musical, there are none the less some touches of artistic flair. As the theme song and the credits come to a close, Gregory Tuttle 'lifts' the tune from the titles and into the action by playing it on his flute in the living-room. Barney remains outside the circle of birthday well-wishers, showing us that this easy domestic affection is alien to him. The significance of Alex not being able to tie his knot is a nice little comment on what is about to unfold. Throughout the Christmas banter between Alex and the Tuttle clan, we see nothing of the action, because the camera remains doggedly fixed on the detached Barney, his reaction being the only one that matters to us.
There are few quibbles, and they are only minor ones. The pianist who doubles for Sinatra sits in a bolt-upright posture, totally unlike the Sinatra Slouch. Laurie's behaviour towards Alex is appalling, and unworthy of a romantic heroine. Consequently, the 'forgiveness' scene doesn't ring true. The method employed by Barney to solve everyone's problems, and its actual result, are utterly unbelievable.
Verdict - A homely, attractive musical with some outlandish plot elements.