If you want to pique my interest in a film, you only have to
say two words: Gene Tierney.
For my money she ranks up with the most
gorgeous sirens to come out of Hollywood's
golden age and she had a lot of screen presence as well as being a
actress. Though she is magnificent in the
Noir classic Laura, she's largely
forgotten today. (Case in point: I told an acquaintance that I was going to
watch a Gene Tierney movie, and he remarked "I think I've seen some of
movies.") Fox Cinema Archives has
released a romantic comedy that she stars in, opposite a very young
Fonda, Rings on Her Fingers. It's a
light but fun romp that makes for an enjoyable evening.
Susan Miller (Gene Tierney) is a sales clerk in a large
department store who is slowly growing old while waiting on rich women
dreaming of having the finer things in life.
She's realistic enough to know that she will never have
dresses and servants to wait on her, and that makes it all the more
difficult. Enter Mrs. Maybelle
Worthington (Spring Byington) and her husband Warren (wonderfully
played by the
bigger than life Laird Cregar). They ask
the attractive shop girl to model some clothes for niece who is
arrive and the next thing she knows she's attending a swank party and
home in the early morning hours.
The catch is that Maybelle and Warren are not rich, they're
con artists. They give Susan a story
about how they just take a little bit of money from people who have way
much of it and give it to people who don't have enough... namely
themselves. They paint it as a Robin Hood
endeavor, but they need an attractive 'daughter' to help reel in rich
marks. The next thing she know, Susan
becomes "Linda Worthington" and is conning her way across the country.
Things are running smoothly until they meet John Wheeler
(Henry Fonda), a young attractive man with an infectious amount of
energy at a
ritzy beach resort. He's looking to buy
a boat, and Linda's steers him to Warren, who is posing as a ship
manages to sell Wheeler a beautiful schooner for $15,000.
The only problem is that Warren didn't own the ship that he
John is out of his money. With the young
man vowing to track down the man that swindled him, Linda and her
promise to look the man up some day and scram, though Linda is very
to leave the charming tycoon.
Months later the Worthingtons are staying at the Fenwick
estate where the trio are about to pull off their most daring con yet: having Linda marry the Fenwick heir which
will leave them all on Easy Street for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately they run into John again. Linda's still attracted to him, and when he
makes a confession to her it nearly breaks her heart.
It turns out that John isn't a rich tycoon
but an employee at the Fenwick's accounting firm. He
struggled for years to save up his
$15,000, which was stolen from him. He
hates the schemers who stole his money, but is in love with Linda, and
clear the feeling is mutual. But how can
she run away with the young man without him finding out who she really
what she's done?
This was a cute comedy that's a lot of fun, though it's more
charming than laugh-out-loud funny.
There are some memorable scenes that make it worth the price of
admission too. The best is when John
Wheeler first sees Linda. He's taking a
call on the beach concerning a ship he's thinking of buying. He's looking at Linda sunbathing while
describing the ship. The camera plays
over Tierney's figure while Fonda is talking.
"Yes, she's got smooth lines... very trim.... and a nice stern."
It almost goes without saying that Tierney and Fonda were
great in the movie. They're a prefect
match and they filled their roles wonderfully.
Tierney was gorgeous and managed to make Linda seem honest and
though she was conning people. Fonda
would light up whenever his character talked about saving money and
without. It was a nice touch.
Laird Cregar was enticing as the head con artist. He's a
large man with a deep voice and energetic manner that made him seem
trustworthy. The only person who was
really miscast was Spring Byington. She
delivered her lines well, but she is so small compared with Cregar that
almost disappeared. It was hard to see
the two of them being romantically linked, and she never really seemed
con artist, though I guess that's a trait the best crooks have.
The plot moved along nicely, with enough amusing moments
sprinkled throughout so that it never dragged or became dull. Seeing it today the plot is pretty
predictable, though it's a lot of fun getting to the preordained
conclusion. The only real minor flaw is
that the end is pretty abrupt, and though it seems to tie everything up
there are some loose threads if you think about it.
Even so, it's a movie that will leave you
with a smile on your face.
The original mono soundtrack is generally clean and clear
with only faint traces of background noise.
The dialog is easy to discern and the music comes through
if the dynamic range is rather limited due to the technology of the
The black and white full frame image was very good, with a
few minor defects. There's a fair amount
of mosquito noise in the opening scenes, but this seems to decrease as
movie goes on. There were also a couple
of brief instances of cross colorization.
The print was very good, with a good amount of contrast and
Alas, there were none.
This was a fun movie with two great leads, Gene Tierney and
Henry Fonda. An amusing romantic comedy,
it never gets too silly and is an enjoyable way to spend an hour and a
half. It gets a strong Recommendation.