Monday, February 23, 2015

Movie Matinee Monday: Forever Darling(1956)

My opinions on the poster:

It's very simple, but this was released at the height of Lucy's and Desi's popularity.  I don't think they needed more than two big drawings of their faces on the poster.  I didn't know that 'riotous' was a word....but I love it on the poster!!

The stars:

Lucille Ball ~ as Susan Vega
Desi Arnaz ~ as Lorenzo (Larry) Vega
James Mason ~ as the Guardian Angel Whom Just Happens to Look Exactly Like James Mason
Louis Calhern ~ as Charles Bewell
Natalie Schafer ~ as Millie Opdyke

The critic's opinions:
2.5/5 stars

I hate to give a movie starring my favorite Old Hollywood couple a less than five star rating, but I've got to be fair.  The truth is, although I find the movie endearing and I adore it, it's not the best OH film out there.  Lucy and Desi play characters that are, at their root, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo of I Love Lucy.  Susan Vega has the same tendencies as Lucy Ricardo to get into scrapes, cause trouble, and end up in slapstick comedy.  And Lorenzo Vega continues to use such language as 'dun't' and other such classic English. :-). The first time I saw this movie, the only other film I'd seen James Mason in was North by Northwest (also starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint).  Quite a change of characters....Mason was the evil villain in the Hitchcock picture.  Here he plays Susan's guardian angel, and he does a terrific job; Mason definitely is able to play a wide variety of roles.  Of course, there's the terrific joke of the guardian angel looking like James Mason.....because he is James Mason!!  Many watchers of this film, even if they are die-hard OH fans, tend to find it a bit boring, and definitely a less than par watch.  The truth is, those watchers are agreeing with the box office back at the movie's original release.  Unlike The Long, Long Trailer, which was released three years earlier, Forever Darling just plain failed to be a box office smash.  In fact, it didn't even make all that much of a profit, at least compared to The Long, Long Trailer.  Forever Darling's budget was $951,000, and the box office was $2,288,000.  With The Long, Long Trailer, on the other hand, the budget was $1,534,000 and the box office was $4,985,000.  Quite a difference, huh?  The truth is, I think the guardian angel angle of the plot doesn't mesh in with the comedy.  The film is quite obviously an overall romantic comedy....but the guardian angel angle gives it some kind of odd fantasy/sci-fi overtone.  It just doesn't fit.  If the guardian angel had gotten to be more comedic, or there were more comedic episodes involving him, I think it would've been better.  I also wish he'd gotten a little more screen time towards the end....he completely disappears during the camping trip, and then randomly shows up at the end to save everything.  At first Susan is annoyed with the angel, and then she likes him.  As in, she like likes him.  Of course, at the end she likes him as a friend, but at times, the entire guardian angel plot seems like a completely different movie than the comedy parts.  Then there's one more little problem: Lorenzo's and Susan's marriage problems parallel Lucy's and Desi's at that time way too much.  It rather puts a damper on the entire film, since we know what they were going through at that point.  But, enough with the negative.  Why should you watch the film?  Well, Lucy and Desi are in it.  That's a million reasons right there.  Also, despite all my ranting, there are plenty of good scenes in the film, including the slapstick and awesome camping trip they go on near the end of the film.  And, it's fun to see Lucy in color, along with her outfits, a few of which I believe I also spotted on I Love Lucy.  Susan's wedding dress is beautiful, and also looks stunning in the many publicity photos it was featured in.  And finally, you have to see it just to see all of Lucy's 'major' films. :-)

The bottom line:

A decent watch.  I recommend seeing it at least once, just so you can judge it for yourself.  You may enjoy it more than others.  It's not a film I'd say to go buy on DVD, but if it's in a box set with others (like the TCM sets), I think it's a nice film to have around and watch occasionally.

My favorite film moments {I try to stay spoiler-free}:

~ The entire camping trip

~ Lorenzo's and Susan's wedding 

~ When Susan talks to the guardian angel for the first time and realizes he is real

~ The's amazing and fabulous.


I'm sorry all the photographs are lobby cards, but that was all I could find.  Which should give you an idea of how popular Forever Darling is....


Movie trailer:
The trailer was not on youtube, unfortunately.  I am so sorry about that!!

Ta-ta, dahlings!!


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