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They All Kissed the Bride
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Columbia. 86 minutes.
US theatrical release: 6/11/42.
VHS release: 2/11/97.
Cast: Joan Crawford (as "Margaret Drew"), Melvyn Douglas, Roland Young, Billie Burke, Andrew Tombes, Allen Jenkins, Helen Parrish, Emory Parnell, Mary Treen, Nydia Westman, Ivan Simpson, Roger Clark, Gordon Jones, Edward Gargan.
Credits: From the story by Gina Kaus and Andrew P. Solt. Screenplay: P.J. Wolfson. Producer: Edward Kaufman. Director: Alexander Hall. Camera: Joseph Walker. Art Directors: Lionel Banks, Cary Odell. Music: M. Stoloff. Costumes: Irene. Editor: Viola Lawrence.
Plot Summary: Joan Crawford is the kissable bride of the title--but when the film opens, matrimony is the farthest thing from her mind. Crawford becomes a big-time executive upon inheriting her father's trucking business, which leaves her no time for such trivialities as romance. To enhance her business, Crawford arranges a marriage of convenience for her younger sister (Helen Parrish). At the wedding, Crawford meets reporter Melvyn Douglas, who is out to discredit Crawford....and you know what's coming next. They All Kissed the Bride was one of several 1942 productions originally slated for Carole Lombard, whose sudden death in a plane crash required all the major studios to reshuffle their production schedules to come up with last-minute Lombard replacements. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
• In production beginning 2/42.
• The film was initially titled He Kissed the Bride and set to star Carole Lombard, who was killed in a plane crash on January 16, 1942, while touring to sell war bonds. (AFI)
• Joan was on loan-out to Columbia from MGM.
• In Lombard's memory, Joan donated her entire salary for the film to charity (and fired her agent after he asked for his commission). (TCM)
"T.S." in the New York Times
July 31, 1942
This corner wishes that it could be as generous this morning toward "They All Kissed the Bride" as was its star, Joan Crawford, in donating her full salary to several charities as a gesture to the memory of Carole Lombard, who was originally slated for the leading role. But the fact is that the new comedy at the Roxy is repeating a joke whose tag-line has become more than a little familiar. As the story of a hard-jawed female tycoon who discovers that it is love, not money and power, that makes the world go round, it bears a tiresome resemblance to a whole string of comedies, of which "Take a Letter, Darling" was the most recent. It has even brought in a vague reference to class struggle a la "The Devil and Miss Jones." The Roxy's film has been well-sired, but it is not at all a thoroughbred.
For neither authors, director nor Miss Crawford have kindled any sense of comic spontaneity in a series of tried and true situations. In Margaret J. Drew they have created a stonily formidable female. She snaps at members of her board as if they were misbehaving terriers; she fires employes of her transportation company at the slightest whim and even terrorizes her younger sister into an unwanted marriage. These tantrums are soon altered by Melvyn Douglas as a social-minded journalist who taunts the lady's cold blood, brings her to speaking terms with the lower classes in a wild jitterbug contest, and finally convinces her that those intermittent dizzy spells are caused by the stirrings of love and not by a liver disease.
But where the central role has required a light, comic touch, Miss Crawford has taken a firm grip on it. Her portrayal of the lady boss has an almost harridan harshness that prevents the character from ever being very likable, much less amusing. As a result, Mr. Douglas's advances, which have become a little too coy in his latest sally, are rather baffling—either Mr. Douglas had ulterior motives in pursuing such a shrewish woman, or he is made of sterner stuff than we had suspected.
In smaller roles Billie Burke is again playing the giddy matron and Roland Young, as the corporation attorney, is even vaguer than usual—which is all for the best. But the movies have long since convinced us that even the most egocentric career woman has a romantic Achilles heel. Why continue to labor the point?
Picture is adult entertainment – liberally spotted with episodes and lines of explosive and intimate nature – that veers from the general run of pictures of its type sufficiently to get audience attention. Originally, Carole Lombard was set for the starring spot, but her untimely death projected Joan Crawford in as replacement.
Crawford is in command of the vast business interests left by her father, and shaken by the writings of Melvyn Douglas, a happy-go-lucky scribbler of sorts who takes a crack at the family personal and business skeletons.
In addition to a spotlight performance by Crawford, Douglas clicks solidly as the writer and principal romanticist. Script is studded with amusing dialog of most intimate and double entendre content.
Alexander Hall’s direction is snappy and speedy all along the line, and he contrives laugh toppers to every episode.
Robert W. Dana in the New York Herald Tribune (1942):
Joan Crawford's return to the screen is under such pleasant auspices, for she and Columbia's brilliant director Alexander Hall and the comedy-wise Melvyn Douglas make the most of a well-written, cleverly constructed screen story....Not in many a day have we seen the risque possibilities of romance and its biological allusions treated on the screen with such frankness and finesse. Miss Crawford demonstrates the range of her talent in those sequences which compel her to change the personality of her heroine gradually from that of a machinelike businesswoman to that of an awakened young beauty with a desire to be an expert jitterbug.
If you've seen They All Kissed the Bride and would like to share your review here, please e-mail me. Include, if you like, a picture of yourself to accompany your review, as well as a star-rating (with 5 stars the best) and any of your favorite lines from the film.
Shane Estes (June 2010)
Rating: of 5
I am going to give this film 3 stars, three more than I expected to give it. After watching it, I’m not really sure why this film remains so unappreciated. I had a chance to see it on TCM the other day and I completely expected to struggle through a dud, perhaps due to the obscurity of the film and the fact that it was released toward the end of her MGM career. I must say, a couple of those films during that period were pretty brutal (Ice Follies 1939, Above Suspicion 1943); however I found myself thoroughly entertained.
This film takes place during what I call Crawford’s “hot phase,” the period from about 1940 to 1945 when she was simply stunning to look at, and before that hard-edge “noir look” really set in. I love her big 1940’s hair in this film. I’ve tried to pinpoint when those hard features really start to manifest and I think it’s somewhere around Possessed (1947).
Here Crawford plays M. J., the hard no-nonsense businesswoman who runs a trucking company with no time for recreation and certainly no time for any men, and she does it quite well. She pulls off the sophisticated comedy with ease and it’s nice to see her play such an offbeat role. I know a hard businesswoman is not really a stretch for Crawford, but this role is quite different than anything else I’ve seen her in, especially around this time.
I’m not really sure why the reviewer in the New York Times said that her character is not very likable. I find her character simply charming as she begins to bend to the advances of Melvyn Douglas. Her chemistry with Douglas is great in this. They work quite well together. It’s hilarious watching Crawford be subdued and wooed by his “smooth operator” character.
I particularly enjoy when she bends at the knee after seeing the handsome and sophisticated Douglas across the room, saying, “Oh, it’s just my liver.” Another funny line for me is when Douglas is trying to coerce her into eating a hot dog and she replies, “I don’t care for Frankfurters,” reminiscent of the line “I don’t care for orchids in the afternoon” from The Damned Don’t Cry (1950).
Crawford was right: they gave this film a silly title, but “it came off quite well.” I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely deserves a DVD release, but I’m not sure of the likelihood of that actually happening. I think the only pictures Joan did with Columbia that have been released on DVD in the US are (1964) and Queen Bee (1955). That leaves They All Kissed the Bride (1942), Harriet Craig (1950), Autumn Leaves (1956), The Story of Esther Costello (1957) and Berserk! (1968). Such a pity that great films like these remain largely unavailable.
Michael Lia (January 2010)
Rating: -1/2 of 5
"Bombs away," as the saying goes, or was that Mae West? In any case, after reviewing this film one more time, I felt that pain again. It seemed to be more painful than I remember; it dies with some flair, if that is ever possible. Some people do give it their best shot; actually everyone involved does, but it barely works. It is acceptable because I always trust Mr. Harry Cohn.
In the back of my mind, I do think of Miss Carole Lombard -- not just about how her portrayal would have been, but about the tragic accident that took her life. She was a hell of a gal, but boy did she make some bad movies, and this one might not have helped her career too much either.
When I read the credits I almost expect to see a comic gem -- with Mr. and Mrs. Topper (Roland Young and ), and Melvyn Douglas, how could it miss? It does and then it doesn’t. Miss Crawford is great, throughout displaying her change of character about love. She goes from a hardened, uptight frosted woman to getting weak in the knees and thinking she might want some of that love stuff too!
Alexander Hall, the director, is well known for his comic pictures My Sister Eileen (1942) and Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), and it may have been a comfort to have him direct, as he gives it the required amount of energy to pull off a comedy. The script just has no backbone, and some of his pictures are listless and boring; if he does not have good material he fades.
This script does not allow for straight running comedy, although somehow it works in parts, . with an army of working overtime. No actress could have done any better, and therefore Miss Crawford does a splendid job at keeping pace with the comic and dramatic moments; and the love affair and breaking down of the Crawford character is believable entertainment. (Tough on the outside, a romantic on the inside.) The best part is that Miss Crawford is beautiful to look at, and designer Irene is a woman of great taste and design for the Crawford figure.
The character actors are abundant in this film, and it is always fascinating to see what studio they will be working at next and under what assignment.
Nydia Westman (The Gorgeous Hussey), for instance, has a nice bit as Joan’s secretary, and she is someone I love to see: quirky and slightly chubby, she is a professional of comedy, and when the script calls for it and when given the chance, she makes you laugh. She is fun in The Cat and the Canary and the series. She has the best giggle in Hollywood.
Allen Jenkins and his girlfriend Suzie, played by Mary Treen, are the kind of neighbors I wish I had. Mr. Jenkins is an all-time favorite and an all-around nice man. He had a long career and supported everybody from James Cagney to Batman. His specialty was regular guys that were fast talking and kind of dumb, with a focus on slang with that Bronx accent: No one could gurgle out dialogue like he does. Check out Ball of Fire (1941). In this film, his jitterbug scene with Miss Crawford is a highlight of the film, surpassing even the dancing hot dog scene! (I went with it.)
Mary Treen (So Proudly We Hail, is basically an unknown, but she got around… performing for over 50 years, including almost every television show ever produced! I think she adds a bit of fire to the proceedings. I like her voice, and her intonations mixed with innuendo are sassy. She wears the pants in her house!
Helen Parrish (long forgotten) plays along with Billie Burke and connects and can match her comic paces with expert timing; she proves she can play with this professional ensemble like a true actor. Life cheated her -- she also had an early demise -- but gosh she was swell here.
Melvyn Douglas does not make me weak in the knees like he does Miss Crawford; however I like to have him around. He is right up there with William Powell; he has a certain amount of class and really is a fine actor.
There are a few other character actors who joined in the fun. You may know their faces, and I am glad to see them spicing things up to save the film. But it is Billie Burke who has the most fun; she has the best lines and the best timing. You will enjoy her!
The total assessment is, as Miss Crawford said, “It came off, sort of."
Above: US lobby cards
Below: Italian lobby cards
Above: A US (Roxy Theatre, NYC) program cover and centerfold.
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