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

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Betty Hutton and Dana Andrews
SPRING REUNION (1957). Directed and co-written by Robert Pirosh.

A small town is the location of a 15 year reunion for the high school class of 1941. The most popular girl in school, Maggie Brewster (Betty Hutton) is unmarried and works in her father's real estate office. Maggie has been trying to sell off a house owned by old classmate Fred Davis (Dana Andrews) -- "most likely to succeed" -- when he comes back to town and changes his mind. A romance begins between the two even as Maggie's friend, Barna (Jean Hagen of Singin' in the Rain), who has a husband and children, finds herself attracted to married former football hero, Jack Frazer (Gordon Jones of The Green Hornet), who seems to exist on reflected glory. Spring Reunion is a pleasant surprise, a light romantic drama greatly bolstered by some excellent performances. Betty Hutton, who I can find overbearing in some of her comedies, is not only lovely and comparatively subdued in this, but gives one of the best and most poignant performances of her career. Andrews is similarly excellent, as are Hagen and Jones, and Laura La Plante [Show Boat] and Robert F. Simon are wonderful as Maggie's parents. Spring Reunion is full of interesting scenes, such as one when Maggie's father makes it clear to her mother that he doesn't like the idea of taking a vacation without his daughter along, that it won't be much fun, and the mother's expression speaks volumes. In another good sequence, Maggie and Fred try to figure out why their lives didn't quite turn out the way they'd intended. James Gleason (billed as "Jimmy") is fine as a lighthouse keeper, and Sara Berner is fun as an impressionist who performs at the reunion. Irene Ryan (Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies) plays a high school official who doesn't know what "Smirnoff" is yet loves the spiked punch, but she isn't given enough to do. Hutton sings "That Old Feeling" and nails it, and Chopin's "Nocturne in E Flat Major" is used as an evocative theme.

Spring Reunion does reflect the attitudes of the time it was made in. Many single women in the fifties probably did feel like "old maids" because they were unmarried in their thirties, but even today women -- and men -- still hope to find someone special to share their lives with. As for Spring Reunion, many of Hutton's fans were disappointed that she wasn't the overly zany Betty Hutton they remembered. Subsequently, this was her last film, although she starred in her own TV show and had other television credits. This was also the last film -- and last credit -- for silent movie star Laura La Plante.

Verdict: Nice romance with some unpredictable touches. ***. 


angelman66 said...

Wow, what a cast! I love Betty Hutton, and I guess this is one of her last roles, and adore Jean Hagen...who was equally adept at drama and comedy. Have never even heard of this film, but it looks like fun...
- C

William said...

I had never heard of this, either, Chris, but accidentally discovered it on youtube, where you can find quite a few surprises. Nice picture, this is, although not everyone's cup
of java.