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
Susan Miller (Gene Tierney) is a sales clerk in a large department store who is slowly growing old while waiting on rich women and dreaming of having the finer things in life. She's realistic enough to know that she will never have beautiful 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 expected to arrive and the next thing she knows she's attending a swank party and getting 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 too much of it and give it to people who don't have enough... namely themselves. They paint it as a Robin Hood sort of endeavor, but they need an attractive 'daughter' to help reel in rich na´ve 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 captain, and manages to sell Wheeler a beautiful schooner for $15,000. The only problem is that
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 it's clear the feeling is mutual. But how can she run away with the young man without him finding out who she really is and 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 good even though she was conning people. Fonda would light up whenever his character talked about saving money and doing 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 totally 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 she almost disappeared. It was hard to see the two of them being romantically linked, and she never really seemed like a 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 nicely 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 nicely, even if the dynamic range is rather limited due to the technology of the time.
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 the 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 strong detail.
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.