Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

NIGHT AND DAY

Cary Grant and Alexis Smith
NIGHT AND DAY (1946). Director: Michael Curtiz.

"Love can be a delight, a dilemma, a disease, or a disaster." -- Monty Woolley.

Over his grandfather's objections, Cole Porter (Cary Grant) decides to leave Yale and pursue a career as a songwriter instead of as a lawyer. Things don't go smoothly at first, with WW1 interrupting things, but eventually he becomes a big success. Unfortunately, his marriage to his neglected wife, Linda (Alexis Smith), hits the rocks, and he has a horse riding accident that requires operations. Will the rather self-centered composer and his wife ever be reunited? Actually, if there was any threat to Porter's marriage, it was because he preferred gentlemen, but the film glosses over this except for one moment when Porter's friend, Monty Woolley, (played by Monty Woolley, who had indeed been a friend of Porter's and was also closeted) tells him he probably shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. The rest of the film is a mix of truths and half-truths and outright fabrication, little of which is very compelling.

Therefore we're left with Porter's music, of which there is quite a lot: "Miss Otis Regrets;" "In the Still of the Night;" 'I've Got You Under My Skin;" "I Get a Kick Our of You;" "You're the Top;" and many, many others. Although she is dubbed, Jane Wyman [All That Heaven Allows] makes a positive impression as performer Gracie Harris, and Ginny Simms [Hit the Ice], who has a lovely voice, made a bid for stardom as another performer, Carole Hill. Mary Martin  plays herself to perform her signature tune "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and there are several lively, TechniColor production numbers, including one on the lawn of Porter's massive estate.

As for the acting, Alexis Smith [The Sleeping Tiger] actually fares better than Grant, who is adequate, but seems oddly listless and unconvincing; Porter himself was still alive when the film was made and died in 1964. Eve Arden shows up as a French chanteuse to warble one number. I didn't even recognize Dorothy Malone as Porter's cousin, Nancy. Years later Kevin Kline played Porter in a film that was franker, but not necessarily better.

Verdict: The music is all that matters. **1/2.

2 comments:

angelman66 said...

Hi Bill, will definitely plan on fast forwarding through to the musical numbers on my next viewing of this...one of Cary Grant's least compelling movies...I forgot that Mary Martin is in it doing her famous number, though, that is worth another look...
-Chris

William said...

Yes, she's splendid, but I've always been a big, big fan of hers.