9 November 2008 | ZBigRedDogZ
Donen does "Mister Roberts" and "Captain Newman MD"
Stanley Donen usually does very enjoyable, smart comedies. This isn't his best, but it's far from his worst. It's very similar to "Mister Roberts" and "Captain Newman MD" in that it's a military comedy that has a very dark shadow cast over it by the war and the obviously frail psyche of the soldiers involved.
Anyhow, in this one, Cary Grant takes a few of his men on a well-deserved break to San Francisco, after several years of war. Of course, it was probably a fluke that they got the leave anyway (I wasn't totally clear on why they got it, but I got the impression it was a mistake), and they spend half the movie trying to avoid getting new orders and the other half trying to avoid people who want them to use their heroic status to help their businesses. Because their businesses are all part of the war effort, you understand. Of course, all they want to do is get drunk and get women.
And a lot of women show up, due to their trickery, of course. Jayne Mansfield plays the neighborhood...I hesitate to call her a slut, she sees herself more as a reward for soldiers who have done a good job, and I'm not sure how promiscuous she'd be otherwise, but yes, let's just say an enthusiastic companion of our wayward heroes. Suzy Parker plays another love interest. I found her very charming and attractive.
There's a very strange scene in this movie where you finally understand what Donen is going for. A shipbuilder wants the men to go and give speeches so his men won't call in sick instead of partying, and he threatens to call influential friends to force them to, and declares how important he and his efforts are to the war. Grant tells him off in the worst possible way. It's a glorious moment, but the indignation he displays is really almost unsettling. You get the picture: this is a comedy, but it's also a tragedy.
But, just to make sure the whole comedy aspect still works, before the movie is over, Grant steals his girl.