|Sleeping Beauty: Ava Gardner|
"Debussy. Debussy does something to women." -- Mr. Savory.
"Personally, I go for Buzzy Balou and his Musical Crew." -- Molly.
Eddie Hatch (Robert Walker of My Son John) is a window dresser for Savory's department store. Mr. Savory (Tom Conway) has just acquired a $200,000 statue of Venus which he wishes to unveil and he instructs Eddie to make sure the curtain rises perfectly at the right moment. Eddie impulsively kisses the statue, and the next thing he knows it has come to life. Venus (Ava Gardner), Goddess of Love visiting from Olympus, is charmed by Eddie, and he is smitten with her, although he already has a girlfriend in clerk Gloria (Olga San Juan). Eddie's buddy, Joe (Dick Haymes of St. Benny the Dip) has a secret crush on Gloria, as secretary Molly (Eve Arden) does on her boss, Mr. Savory. Spotting her asleep in a model home on the first floor of the store, Savory determines to drape this goddess in gowns and make her his own. Will all of these lovers get together with the right person, and will Eddie have to go to jail for stealing a very expensive statue? One Touch of Venus, adapted from the Broadway show that starred Mary Martin, takes a while to get its footing (a third of the movie has gone by before anyone sings a song, for one thing), but it develops into a charming and well-performed musical comedy. Gardner [The Night of the Iguana] makes a luscious Venus, and is good in the role, although her singing is dubbed. The other performers are all on the money -- Sara Allgood has a nice turn as an anxious landlady -- and Eve Arden adds just that extra special sparkle that the proceedings require. The movie drops about half of the songs (Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash) -- some are heard in the background -- but retains "Speak Low;" "That's Him;" and "My Foolish Heart." Olga San Juan was in the original Broadway cast of Lerner and Loewe's Paint Your Wagon.
Verdict: Romantic tomfoolery perhaps, but it certainly has its delights. ***.