Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Early '50s double bill ...

 The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951) + Flesh And Fury (1952)

THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER – I saw this 1951 comedy on tv decades ago and it left a vivid memory but I had never seen it since and it never plays here, but this minor Cukor comedy (now on Fox Archives dvd) is sheer delight, as scripted and produced by Charles Brackett. It has that Fox early ‘50s looks in spades too, with those Fox regulars Jeanne Crain as the model and Thelma Ritter as the marriage-broker. 

Thelma is Mae Swasey who runs the Contacts and Contracts bureau where she, cynically wise-cracking as ever, fits up clients ("plain janes and short, balding guys" as a colleague puts it) with likely partners. When she and model Crain accidentally pick up each other’s handbags complications follow as Mae meddles with Crain’s romantic life and tries to steer her and radiologist Scott Brady together. Amusing situations follow and the cast includes Zero Mostel, Nancy Kulp, Mae Marsh and Jay C. Flippen. We also get to see that Mae lost her own husband to her best friend, who now comes back as a widow looking for a new mate ... It may have been an odd choice for Cukor, but it certainly soars with him at the helm, and Brackett’s talky script must have been tailor-made for Ritter, a pleasure to hear great dialogue again, as the model turns the tables on the broker, as everything is resolved nicely. Now if one could get her THE MATING SEASON … 

THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER fell into the range of those small New York based Cukor films, between ADAM'S RIB and PAT AND MIKE and of course those later Judy Hollidays. Brackett's script must have been written with Thelma in mind. And we also get a nod towards George's THE WOMEN with that nice scene at the model shop where Crain walks around wearing that stunning cape while the women meet and talk, and where she learns of Ritter's profession. Crain makes a much better impression here than in A LETTER TO 3 WIVES, Mankiewicz's classic and a favourite from 1949, where hers was the least interesting story.
 (A must-see I must get around to: Jeanne Crain as NEFERTITI, PRINCESS OF THE NILE, a 1960 peplum made in Italy). 

For our B-feature I have selected:
FLESH AND FURY. A terrific little Universal programmer from 1952, this is one of Tony Curtis’s early movies and it is easy to see how he got into movies – the camera loves him and he acquits himself well as the deaf and (initially) dumb young boxer being exploited by Jan Sterling at her venal  superbitch worst: "a bloodthirsty, money-sucking blonde bombshell"; she refers to him as The Dummy, and is so rotten she even puts all her money on the other guy when it looks like Tony is going to take a fall. 
Thankfully, rich nice girl Mona Freeman enters to write a story on the rising young boxer, but her father was a deaf mute and she knows sign language and before we know it Tony is having an operation to restore his hearing… how will this affect his boxing and can Mona extract him from the clutches of gold-digging Jan? This is vastly enjoyable at a cracking 79 minutes, as directed by studio regular (I won’t say hack) Joseph Pevney who certainly churned them out in the ‘50s. Wallace Ford and Connie Gilchrist provide able support. Another of Tony's young guy on the make movies, like MISTER CORY, but its a surprise treat now.


  1. Flesh and Fury sounds delectably dramatic. Jan Sterling was a wonderful under appreciated talent, her looks lent themselves to the hard case but she could also play the sympathetic woman well. I almost always enjoy Tony on the screen although whenever I saw him interviewed he seemed like a pompous jackass.

    The Model and the Marriage Broker is one I've never been able to catch all of just bits and pieces, would love to though. The Mating Season is just great, Thelma's best showcase in my opinion and should have won her that elusive Oscar. She's really the star but I suppose since Gene Tierney was in the cast they had to put her in supporting for the nomination. Miriam Hopkins is also brilliantly fluttery playing Gene's mother or as Thelma calls her the Big Gab.

  2. For a B-movie FLESH AND FURY is considerably entertaining and ticks all the boxes. We like Jan in other movies like FEMALE ON THE BEACH and others, she is so under-rated now.

    THE MODEL & MARRIAGE BROKER must have been written as a star vehicle for Thelma, you can't imagine anyone else delivering those lines. She had made such an impression in LETTER TO 3 WIVES and ALL ABOUT EVE that scripts were commissioned for her, I remember THE MATING SEASON vividly too.