Topper — I’d heard good things about this ghostly comedy, but since I already knew the plot, there wasn’t much point in actually watching it, although I’m sure the special effects were mind-boggling at the time.
Topper Takes a Trip — Cary Grant didn’t return for this sequel, which thus started out on a sad note, since the female ghost was left alone. Instead, she gets a ghost dog, which pales quickly. I wound up fast-forwarding through most of it.
Free and Easy — Smarmy Bob Cummings plays a broke gigolo looking to marry for money whose father is doing the same thing. Of course, Bob falls in love with a poor girl while almost engaged to a rich one (the best character in the whole thing — she goes to the opera in jodphurs to show how individual she is, and she bears being used remarkably well). Who will he choose? He chooses the rich girl, but he’s honest: he tells her that he’ll be faithful but he’s in love with someone else. Rich girl dumps him, and father shows up having married well out of the blue, so Bob can get both the money and the girl he loves without having to do anything difficult. Thankfully, the movie’s only an hour long.
Lucky Night — Ah, now that’s more like it. Myrna Loy’s an heiress determined to make it without Dad’s money. Gorgeous Robert Taylor is a guy down on his luck. They meet, hungry, on a park bench during the Depression. After stealing a nickel someone else leaves as a tip, they win a slot machine jackpot, which they use to buy a lottery ticket. They win the prize car, which they borrow money on and so on and so on. Eventually, they wind up married after a drunken all-night spree.
Completely unbelievable, but a good example of the dreams Hollywood was selling during the 30s. Can’t get a job? Maybe you’ll strike it rich gambling or by marrying for love and just happening to get the money along with it. Random events will work out to your favor… if you’re a movie star.
Carefree — Perhaps the oddest Astaire/Rogers movie. She’s engaged to a stodgy Ralph Bellamy but keeps turning him down. He gets her to visit psychiatrist Astaire to find out why. (Apparently he takes “it’s not you, it’s me” literally.) Astaire and Rogers fall in love, of course. There’s lots of babble about the subconscious and people misbehaving under the excuse of therapy. Plus, she sings a very silly song about yams, complete with dance number that ends with her bouncing on furniture.
Mr. Lucky — Cary Grant as a gambler and con man who gets mixed up with a war relief organization and learns to do good through the love of a good woman. I kept expecting to turn it off, but it kept my attention all the way through — Grant was magnetic.
Come Fly With Me — One of Dolores Hart’s few films. She’s best known for starring in Where the Boys Are before giving up Hollywood to become a nun. With material like this, I don’t blame her. Three stewardesses have incidents while looking for love. There’s the naive idealistic one, the good-hearted country-girl-at-heart, and the world-weary one looking for a rich guy (Hart). I didn’t buy her as hard-bitten as she needed to be, and she looked uncomfortable every time she was called upon to smoke, which was often.
The Old Maid — During the Civil War, Bette Davis’ fiancé is killed. She bears his daughter but has to give her up to be adopted by her cousin, a proper widow. Lots of overwraught speeches follow as the girl grows up never knowing the truth and Bette Davis becomes the bitter maiden aunt because her sacrifice is too much for her to bear.
Romance on the High Seas — A rich couple is suspicious of each other’s flirtations, so he hires someone to spy on her on a cruise of several months to South America. She, in response, sends someone else in her place. The funniest bit was that the someone else was a young Doris Day, playing a lower-class saloon singer, a role outside her usual upper-middle-class nice girl portrayals.