Thursday, February 05, 2009

2/3/09: Always a Bride (1953)

No matter how hard I try, I can't escape the Big Lie movie. It's everywhere—versions of the Big Lie story probably date back to the Stone Age. You know the shopworn tale: a couple of lovebirds enter into their romance that is advanced on the basis of a fib told by one to the other. At length, the lie is discovered, which naturally leads to complications, but only as far as the inevitable happy ending. Taking into account subtle variations such as gender reversal, I just described the plot of Bells Are Ringing, Pillow Talk, The Music Man, The Graduate, Tootsie, Just One of the Guys, Coming to America, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, While You Were Sleeping, About a Boy, There’s Something About Mary, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Wedding Crashers; the list keeps growing with each passing year. And those are just the ones I've seen—not counting the innumerable times the story has been regurgitated for television. You'd think that audiences would get tired of the Big Lie story, but apparently I'm the only one.

Burned out as I am of this plot, occasionally I see an entertaining version of it, and Always a Bride combines the Big Lie with a confidence-trickster theme, which I usually love. I was very keen to see this 1953 British comedy at a "vintage" movie theater several months ago, but the timing unfortunately didn't work out. Although it's not officially released on DVD, I finagled a copy from somebody online, and it arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. So it made its way to the top of the list.

Beautiful Clare Hemsley (Peggy Cummins) and her dear old father Victor (Ronald Squire) have a great scam going. They check into a fancy hotel posing as newlyweds, then hubby "skips town," leaving a sobbing bride "destitute." She collects big from sympathetic rich hotel patrons who want to help her. But Clare didn't count on falling for an honest and handsome fellow (Terence Morgan), who's staying at the same French hotel. Consistently amusing and occasionally hilarious, Always a Bride is sort of a nonmusical Music Man (another movie where the Big Lie gets in the way of the Big Con). It's a very likable, well-constructed confection, and Peggy Cummins is drop-dead gorgeous in it. I wish more people knew about this movie. In black and white. Rating 5/5.

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