The Major and the Minor (1942)

There is something serene and assuring for the entire duration of any movie as long as Ginger Rogers is in them. I have watched quite many of her films – excluding the famous musicals she appeared with Fred Astaire.

She comes across as a simpleton in many of her roles and usually plays the characters with vibrant expressions, making you fall in love with her. My wife was beside me, yet I could not stop admiring her beauty and telling my wife about it.

Susan Applegate, played by Ginger Rogers, is witty, homesick, short in cash – running out of excuses and patience at the train station until she sees a lady who is buying a half-ticket each for her two children.

One moment – Susan appears as a perfect young lady, someone with whom you always wished to dance at a ball. And in the next scene, she disguises herself as a 12-year old and manages to board the train with a half ticket. The newly found disguise and her antics would be short-lived as the conductors soon find out she isn’t a kid from the Swedish stock, which she claimed for her excessive height. Even Greta Garbo’s famous line ‘I want to be alone’ from Grand Hotel doesn’t impress them and is chased away when they catch her smoking while breathing in the fresh air.

Major Kirby, played by Ray Milland, comes across as a gentleman who offers refuge to the 12-year old Su-Su, her alias. He is on his way to his military institute and his fiancée, Pamela.

Despite these coincidences, twists, and turns to the plot -the movie retains the humour without a dull moment.

After being in the industry for close to 14 years and having written stories and screenplays for around 40 movies, Billy Wilder makes his debut as a director with this movie.

The other characters who play a significant part in the movie are Kirby’s devious fiancée Pamela played by Rita Johnson, Lucy – the science freak and the sister of Pamela played by Diana Lynn; the six cadets from the military school who take turns in impressing Su-Su and Lela Rogers as Mrs. Appleton.

It was remade in another version as You are Never Too Young in 1955 – which starred Jerry Lewis disguising as a 12-year old.

The 1955 movie’s plot also inspired the Hindi comedy movie Half Ticket, which had Kishore Kumar playing the kid supported by Madhubala and Pran.

When I remember The Major and the minor, I can think of Ginger Rogers and her different avatars in this movie.

A beautiful scalp treatment lady; a 12-year old kid; alone girl wanting care and affection in the train;  a confused love-struck belle who plays the centre of attraction to those hundreds of young cadets in the institute;

A doll resembling Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz; a maiden of the prom night; a young woman hopelessly lost and in love; a matured and elderly Mrs. Appleton or the lovely lady Susan, waiting at the train station for Kirby towards the end.

Take your pick and rest assured, you will be left mesmerised with the ease in which she has portrayed all the roles mentioned above.

Big Brown Eyes (1936)

Eve Fallon (Joan Bennett), upset for having not received the correct judgment that had political interference quits being a reporter and goes back to her other manicurist profession.

Her boyfriend, Danny Barr (Cary Grant), a detective who is equally upset with this injustice, quits the police. Now, they are secretly on their way to find the evidence. This movie had comedy, witty one-liners, romance, and mystery.

Eve comes across as a big mouth and has some of the best lines in the movie. Among frequent banters, Eve and Dan are very much in love. Dan is investigating a series of jewel robberies, and one of them turned severe with a baby being killed by a stray bullet.

The killer was identified, but the system had loopholes and wasn’t punished against the charges. In his way, Dan privately starts a trail on Cortig, as he is convinced about his involvement.

He gets support from Eve as she is always curious and in constant look for any news. While manicuring, she figures the role of a prominent personality’s involvement in the jewel robberies. The missing piece in Dan’s investigation is filled by the discovery made by Eve.

Richard Morey, a local politician, played by Walter Pidgeon, is the main man behind the crime, and he is nabbed by the teamwork of Eve and Dan. Comical performances by Marjorie Gateson in the role of Mrs. Chesley Cole and Douglas Fowley as Benny provide some exercise to the laughter muscles.

Released in 1936, Big Brown Eyes, directed by Raoul Walsh, was an experimental movie considering that this movie genre was limited to Warner Bros in the mid-1930s. Paramount managed to get the bearing with the story and the screenplay and was well accepted at the box office.

The Grass is Greener (1960)

Victor Rhyall, played by Cary Grant and his beautiful wife Lady Hilary Rhyall, played by Deborah Kerr, lead a quiet and steady life in a big estate inside a mansion.

Guided tours to the mansion were allowed to overcome their financial trouble. One such visit day, an oil tycoon Charles Delacro played by Robert Mitchum, visits the place and accidentally enters a private room of the Rhyalls.

Although Hilary tries to make him understand about the place being non-public, one can sense an attraction developing between the two by the conversations they indulge in. After some time, it is inevitable, Hilary is attracted to Charles, and both wonder how they go about it next.

Victor meets Charles, and they both familiarise themselves over a cup of tea. A few days later, Hilary makes up a reason to meet Charles. Aware of what’s happening, Victor remains an optimist about his love for his wife coming to his rescue.

After spending few days with Charles, Hilary is surprised to see Victor acting normal despite knowing everything about her. He invites Charles to his place for a night out and settle scores with him and win back his wife. Victor and Charles carry out a lot of funny tests with guns and at the pool table. It’s funny.

Hilary feels embarrassed over the entire situation, and her behaviour being the main reason for all the unwanted drama. The movie ends when she realises and apologises to Victor, thus ending the short-timed ‘Love Triangle.’

The Grass is Greener, released in 1960, was directed by Stanley Donen. This romantic comedy fared poorly at the box office despite having big stars on board.

This also was the third association of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr pair, the previous two being An Affair to Remember and Dream Wife.

Jean Simmons plays Hilary’s friend and keeps the movie moving to believe it’s a quadrangular love story.

That Touch of Mink (1962)

Philip Shayne, a wealthy businessman, is a guy who possesses a lot of charm. This charm made Cathy Timberlake, an old fashioned country girl to go mad.

She has found the man of his dreams and cannot think of any other guy apart from him. Philip Shayne, played by Cary Grant, meets Cathy when his Rolls Royce splashes mud on her dress and later calls her up to apologise.

After apologising in the office, he is quite impressed by her honest heart. He decides to take her for his meetings, wherein she intervenes and, to his surprise, manages to convince the other members to negotiate a deal successfully.

Philip takes her out to a baseball match at the Yankees stadium. He owns a part of the team. We get to see baseball stars like ‘Yogi Berra,’ Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris playing themselves getting thrown out for violating the rules.

Although Philip is very much interested in her, he has no plans of getting married, and there comes a clash because of her background. She believes in the traditional norms of getting married and start a family. In contrast, he is just looking for an affair.

After much persuasion, she finally agrees to go on a holiday trip to Bermuda with him. She develops a psychosomatic rash on her body, much to her disappointment and frustration.

To overcome the disappointment, she wants to repeat the Bermuda trip and hence reaches earlier than Philip. She drinks to calm her nerves, ends up drinking lots. When Philip arrives, he finds her in a drunken state, and she makes a fool of herself and to such an extent that she falls from the window. Dressed in pyjamas, she orders the hotel servicemen to take her to his room, while others her have a good laugh about it.

In the end, she finally manages to convince him to get married, and funnily in their honeymoon, he develops a rash.

This movie also happens to be the last movie, where Cary Grant persuades a girl. In his next film, Charade, Audrey Hepburn persuades him, as per Grant’s request, because of the 25 year age difference.

Released in 1962, That Touch of Mink was directed by Delbert Mann, was nominated for three Oscars in Best Art Direction, Best Sound, and Best Screenplay & Writing – directly for the screen categories.

Father Goose (1964)

Walter Christopher Eckland, played by Cary Grant, is a vagrant who is living on a beach. During WWII, he is persuaded by the British Authorities to spy on the planes passing on the island. Reluctantly, he goes about his job. Commander Frank Houghton being an old friend of Mr. Eckland, it was a matter of obligation to be deserted on an island and spy.

During his stay on the island, he encounters a school teacher Catherine Freneau, played by Leslie Caron, stranded on the island and few children. They have managed to escape from the Japanese and thus seek shelter by taking Mr. Eckland’s help.

Mr. Eckland, as a result of a lady and kids, finds himself to be out of the house and finds shelter in his boat, which is semi-damaged.

The story involves a series of funny incidents between Mr. Eckland and Catherine over many issues. With time, they get each other’s perspective and start appreciating. Also, a change of attitude towards children is seen in Mr. Eckland as he takes up Catherine and the children’s responsibility.

He builds his boat so that it could be used to escape when the Japanese invade the island. Catherine and Mr. Eckland fall in love with each other and get married to the minister playing the priest’s role and perform the rituals via a radio transmitter. Japanese airplanes strike the island right after the wedding ritual.

While they wait for the submarine from the Navy to arrive, the Japanese invade the island. Mr. Eckland manages to distract the Japanese and escape safely.

Released in 1964, Father Goose was a romantic comedy directed by Ralph Nelson. It was nominated for three Oscars and won one Oscar for Best Screenplay, Writing. Other categories include Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

Every Girl Should Be Married (1948)

‘Every Girl Should be married,’ is what Dr. Madison Brown says. Anabel Sims, played by Betsy Drake, takes the advice and goes about searching for a perfect husband.

Dr. Madison Brown, played by Cary Grant, plays a reputed paediatrician. He is a noted bachelor too.

Anabel Sims is determined to find Mr. Right finds Dr. Madison very apt as her perfect husband. The movie involves a series of plots in which she stalks Dr. Madison.

She plays the role of a department store salesclerk; when Dr. Madison asks for her help to purchase few things, she decides him to be the one.

She finds all possible information about him, routines, and whereabouts. Knowing her intentions, Dr. Madison tries his best to fend off her.

She uses the help of Roger Sanford, who is a thrice-married playboy. It so happens, Roger falls in love with Anabel. She uses this to tease Dr. Madison and make him feel jealous. All of them turn out to be unsuccessful.

After a series of funny plots and dialogues, the movie culminates when Dr. Madison knows of Roger’s success with a woman and tries to stop them from getting married.

While waiting for Anabel at her place, Old Joe, long-time hometown beau of Anabel, unexpectedly. In the end, Dr. Madison does ask her hand for marriage.

Released in 1948, this movie directed by Don Hartman was one of the highest grosser of 1948.

This romantic comedy is hilarious, and Cary Grant proves his mettle with his sheer comic timing. A pretty Betsy Drake plays a role of a stalker literally.

Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)

During the time of WWII, many American reporters were deputed in Europe to narrate the war. This is a story of an American radio reporter Pat ‘O’ Toole, played by Cary Grant, his various adventures across Europe while covering the war. American burlesque Katie ‘O’ Hara marries an Austrian millionaire Baron Von Luber for her social climbing. Pat sees this marriage as an opportunity to expose the alleged, suspected ties of Baron with the Nazis.

Pat is after a story as he follows Katie and Baron on their honeymoon across many European countries. One can see country after country falling under the Nazi regime penned by Baron’s involvement.

Pat falls in love with Katie. Upon realising her husband’s role with Nazis, she escapes from the Baron by faking her death. When the Nazi regime had strengthened its hold in Europe, Katie, owing to her patriotic obligations, decides to don the role of a spy and goes back to Baron.

The final scene exposes the foolishness of Baron and the Nazi regime when Pat, upon agreement with Baron, delivers a radio speech to the public quite contrary to what was agreed upon.

This movie represents the typical Cary Grant, playing his comic – serious, eligible bachelor roles. Pretty looking, Ginger Rogers does justice to her role with her range of facial expressions and demonstrates her acting skills.

Look out for most actors’ comic timing as this film turned out to be just an entertainer. Keeping the mood of the early 1940s in America, this movie turns out to be another way of looking at WWII from an American perspective.

Released in 1942, Leo McCarey directs this comical adventure nominated for Best Oscar for sound recording.

Irma La Douce (1963)

As a follow up to my earlier view on The Apartment, I must admit this movie is one of my all-time favorites—Irma La Douce (Irma the sweetest).

Jack Lemmon is remembered for his portrayal of Nestor Patou, an honest police officer who finds a street full of prostitutes in one of the popular areas in Paris one day on duty. He reports all the ladies to the police station in front of his senior officers. Aware of the activities, Nestor finds himself in false charges of bribe and hence thrown out of service by his old men who indulge in infixes.

He becomes close to Chez Moustache (Lou Jacobi), a local bar owner. While he is drunk, a bizarre sequence of events ends Pastor being the new pimp boyfriend for Irma as she dumps the previous guy. Pastor moves in with Irma.

He is in love with Irma and cannot digest the fact of being with other men; he comes up with a master plan of disguising himself as an old English guy (Lord X). Lord X offers Irma good money so that she can entertain only him.

To earn money, Pastor works for a meat processing industry during the night and early hours; hence most of the time, he ends up in bed tired. With time, this upsets Irma, and consequently, she finds solace by talking out her problems with Lord X.

Jealous ensures Irma’s ex-boyfriend kill Lord X. Pastor again becomes a victim.

Rest is all about how he manages to escape from prison and how he manages to convince Irma that he loves her more than anyone. One of the best comedies in Hollywood, Irma La Douce, was released in 1963 and was directed by Billy Wilder.

One of the fascinating things about Lord X is his strut and his comic timing. His ‘cheeribye’ is very catchy.

In a way, I wouldn’t like to describe much about this movie, as I would recommend everyone movie lovers to watch and enjoy.

Marilyn Monroe was touted to play the role of Irma; instead, Shirley Maclaine was chosen, as Monroe was dead by the time the production of this film started. Bollywood made a movie based on Irma La Douce, Manoranjan, starring Sanjeev Kumar, with Zeenat Aman and Shammi Kapoor playing the other lead roles.

I shall end the post with some of the memorable dialogues,
“Who wants to be a stray dog? You got to belong to someone, even if he kicks you once in a while.”

“Life is total war, my friend… nobody has a right to be a conscientious objector.”

“Shows you the kind of world we live in. Love is illegal – but not hate that you can do anywhere, anytime, to anybody. But if you want a little warmth, a little tenderness, a shoulder to cry on, a smile to cuddle up with, you have to hide in dark corners, like a criminal.”

“To be overly honest in a dishonest world is like plucking a chicken against the wind… you’ll only wind up with a mouth full of feathers.”

 

The Apartment (1960)

The last movie to win Oscar Best Picture in Black ‘n’ White was this movie. Of course, it was before Schindler’s list (1993). The Apartment made in 1960 was classic with reputed performers like Jack Lemmon (I can’t stop ravishing about him), Shirley Maclaine, aptly directed by Billy Wilder. This was a follow up from his previous smash hit comedy ‘Some Like it Hot.’

I was in tears because I was touched by Jack Lemmon’s simplicity, suppressing his feelings. The feelings when his boss, played by Fred McMurray, out of his marriage has an affair with Shirley Maclaine, and he can stand and do nothing about it.

The Apartment is in demand for few employees working at an insurance company in New York. The Apartment belongs to Mr. C.C Baxter, played by Jack Lemmon. To climb up the corporate ladder, he lends his Apartment to his fellow selected higher officials to spend time with their muses outside the house. The four managers keep their promise by paying positive appraisals to the personnel director, Mr. Sheldrake, played by Fred McMurray.

C.C Baxter is attracted to the elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik played by Shirley Maclaine. It turns out, Mr. Sheldrake had sights on Miss Kubelik, and they were involved in a relationship, which ceases to have an identity.

Miss Kubelik cannot tolerate the mystery of their relationship in adverse circumstances, contemplating suicide and consuming sleeping pills at the Apartment.

C.C Baxter, to his shock, finds Miss Kubelik in a state of horror. Next few days, he consoles Miss Kubelik and even tries to bring a smile.

While his heroics of saving Mr. Sheldrake gave him a chance to become Asst. Director. He always dreamt of this position; now, he stalls himself to enjoy the newfound role.

Fast forward 37 years, Bollywood had its movie in Yes Boss, loosely inspired by the theme where Shahrukh Khan helped his boss Aditya Pancholi get Juhi Chawla in return for a better corporate future.

And in 2006, another Bollywood movie, ‘Life in a Metro’ finds a sub-plot similar to the screenplay of ‘The Apartment.’ Sharman Joshi does justice to his role identical to Jack Lemmon, while Kangana Ranaut and Kay Kay Menon play Shirley Maclaine and Fred McMurray to perfection.

However, according to director Billy Wilder, The Apartment was inspired when he had seen the movie ‘Brief encounter’ in 1945.

I like the ending scene.

It’s about the time when C.C Baxter and Miss Kubelik are about to start a game of cards.

C.C. Baxter: You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.

Fran Kubelik: Shut up and deal.

Charade (1963)

A viewer’s delight. This movie had two of the great movie stars seen on screen, which marked the first time they starred together. This is Stanley Donen’s romantic-suspense drama ‘Charade.’ A movie that could have been a Hitchcock thriller or a James Bond movie.

The first time when I heard about this movie was in a local quiz competition. Our team didn’t get the answer to the introduction scene of this movie. The movie title always fascinated me. That was just one of many reasons to watch this movie. Little did I know then, it would star Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn?

Cary Grant was 59 and hence wasn’t convinced about romancing Audrey Hepburn, who was just 33 at that time. He did refuse the offers made to him because of the age difference.

Finally, Cary Grant did agree because of Peter Stone’s script’s specific change, the writer. It was decided that Audrey Hepburn would be pursuing him, and promptly the romantically aggressive lines were shifted to Audrey Hepburn’s character.

This film also reiterated the fact of Cary Grant playing action roles with ease. He refused James Bond owing to age. Apart from these legendary actors, Walter Matthau plays a pivotal character.

Audrey Hepburn plays the character of Regina Lampert, who would lose her husband through murder. Many of his friends would come to take the money, which was stolen in gold from US Government during WW II. She is ignorant about his past, and the plot continues when three of her husband’s ex-partners in crime, the US Government, all chase her in search of money. The screen name of Cary Grant changes every 20-minutes in the movie, who has a protective and selfish motive in the film. The film is shot mainly in Paris and Switzerland.

This movie, made in 1963, was a box office hit, and this movie happened to be the only time Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn appeared together on screen. Cary Grant had refused ‘Roman Holiday’ earlier, which ended up being listed in Time’s 100 Greatest Movies.

Apart from Audrey Hepburn’s lines, I love the last scene where Cary Grant chases Audrey Hepburn. Why does he pursue? Watch the movie and find it out yourself.