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

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Russell Nype and Janet Blair
 ONE TOUCH OF VENUS (1955 telefilm). Director: George Schaefer. 

Museum owner Whitelaw Savory (George Gaynes) is anxiously waiting for a statue of Venus to arrive in his office when a substitute barber named Rodney Hatch (Russell Nype) places a ring on the statue's finger and she comes to life. Venus (Janet Blair) inexplicably falls in love with the nerdy Rodney, although he resists her charms because he's engaged to the rather witchy Gloria (Mildred Trares). Venus disposes of Gloria even as Whitelaw woos the goddess and still tries to find out where the statue is. Eventually Rodney is accused of Gloria's murder, but fortunately the gal isn't gone forever. Rodney and Venus happily plan for a rather earthbound future on Staten Island. But will these two opposites continue to attract? 

George Gaynes and Janet Blair
One Touch of Venus
 is a TV version of the 1943 Broadway musical, which was turned into a theatrical film in 1948 with Ava Gardner playing Venus. This telefilm is taken from a production of the show done for the Dallas State Fair. This is presumably more faithful to the original stage version as the movie made a great many changes to the plot and dropped most of the score by Kurt Weill and Odgen Nash. Whatever its flaws, this telefilm retains virtually all of the songs, and they are all memorable: "A Stranger Here Myself" sung by Venus; Rodney's "That's How Much I Love You'" and "Wooden Wedding;" Savory's song to his lost love, "West Wind;" Venus' "My Foolish Heart" and "That's Him;" the amusing chorus "The Trouble with Women;" and the love duet "Speak Low When You Speak Love." Savory's secretary, Molly (Laurel Shelby), sings the title tune. Although Janet Blair is the only one of the principal performers who dances, the telecast does include dance numbers and ballets. 

As for the performers, no one really has the light touch that this type of whimsical material requires, making the story pretty silly, but it's saved by the songs. And the singing of the principals really makes this work. I always knew Janet Blair as a competent light dramatic and comedic actress but never knew how really talented she was, as she sings her numbers for all that they're worth. Russell Nype also has a good voice and delivers on his numbers. George Gaynes was a busy Broadway performer and while some may find his voice old-fashioned, I have to say I love his singing style. Nype also did a lot of stage work. Weill's music is lilting; Nash's lyrics clever and funny.

Verdict: This may seem crude compared to the film version, but this has all the songs and they sing! ***. 


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - is this on YouTube? Looks very interesting. I am a fan of Janet Blair from just one movie - the Hammer film Burn Witch Burn - am ashamed to say I have not yet seen her musical performances in My Sister Eileen or Tonight and Every Night from the 40s. George Gaynes, I know basically from Tootsie.

William said...

This may be on youtube but I found it on Amazon Prime along with other TV adaptations of old musicals. Blair never quite became a major star but she was talented. She was actually an odd choice for "Witch" but was good in that if I remember correctly.