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.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Forgotten '60s movies: Dear Brigitte

DEAR BRIGITTE is another of those gloopy comedies 20th Century Fox turned out in the early '60s featuring James Stewart, and directed once again by veteran Henry Koster. Here in 1965 Stewart (plus hairpiece) is the quirky professor and poet, who lives with his family on a riverboat. He always has a smart, spunky wife (its Maureen O'Hara in MR HOBBS TAKES A VACATION in '62, Audrey Meadows in TAKE HER SHE'S MINE in '63 (which I have not seen, but will before too long) and here it is Glynis Johns - last teamed with Stewart in 1951's NO HIGHWAY (also directed by Koster, who also helmed Stewart's HARVEY). There, Glynis was the air hostess helping Stewart's boffin about that dangerous flight ... here, they could be that married couple 15 years later ....

There is also of course a blonde daughter who again (as in MR HOBBS) has Fabian as a boyfriend. Fabian was amusing in HOUND DOG MAN and NORTH TO ALASKA but often ended up playing second banana to older stars like Stewart, Wayne, Crosby etc. Glynis (still here in her 90s) shines here, after her mother role in MARY POPPINS, I met her the next year 1966 when she was doing a play in London, and remember her enormous false eyelashes!  Wonderful Alice Pearce is also amusing here as the lady in the unemployment office with an eye for Professor Stewart ...

In DEAR BRIGITTE the professor's son Erasmus (freckled Billy Mumy) turns out to be a maths genius, attracting the attention of crooked John Williams. Erasmus though has no musical talent but writes letters to French star Brigitte Bardot - surely though he could not have seen many or any of her films? The plot takes us to Paris for the highlight of the film - a few minutes with Brigitte herself who appears very charming and friendly here and she even gives Erasmus an adorable little puppy! It is all pleasant, forgetttable stuff, so forgettable in fact that I had not seen it since its 1965 release and it never showed here again! 
We loved Stewart in the '30s: MR DEEDS and DESTRY; in the '40s: his Macaulay Connor in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, his films with his old pal Margaret Sullavan, his George Bailey in Bedford Falls in ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE; in the '50s with those Anthony Mann westerns, and Hitchcock classics - 1958 saw his last leading man roles in VERTIGO and BELL BOOK AND CANDLE, then 1959 saw the start of his older character roles in ANATOMY OF A MURDER. He did some more westerns: Ford's THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALLANCE is highly regarded (though I never cared for it myself, he seemed too old here for a start), HOW THE WEST WAS WON, SHENANDOAH, and those Fox comedies where he was the bumbling parent - rather an acquired taste now.  The best of his later roles was as the doctor with the equally aged John Wayne in THE SHOOTIST in 1976, where it was touching seeing the two old warriors having a last hurrah. (He died aged 89 in 1997).

Some more Brigitte:  with Robert Hossein in LOVE ON A PILLOW or THE WARRIOR'S REST in 1962 - which was a tedious chore to sit through, while BB and  Henri Vidal in COME DANCE WITH ME, 1959, is an absolute delight, totally charming with BB going undercover as a dance instructer to save her dentist husband from blackmail by scheming Dawn Addams; and with Vidal again and Charles Boyer in UNE PARISIENNE, 1957, another pleasant comedy by Michel Boisrond. 
We liked BB a lot in 1967's TWO WEEKS IN SEPTEMBER, at BB label...

In truth BB's career was winding down by then, 1965 - she had one great movie left, Malle's delightful arthouse hit VIVA MARIA with Moreau, in 1966, and I liked her TWO WEEKS IN SEPTEMBER from '67, but that dreadful Spanish western SHALAKO trashed her and the rest of the cast in 1968, and she had finished with movies by 1973, as she devoted her time to her animal welfare interests. 
BB sang too - I remember having a disk of hers "Sidonie" from the early '60s.


  1. As you said they haven't shown this film in years, even TCM doesn't run it often, but I remember loving it when I was a kid and it showed on Saturday afternoons all the time. Would love to catch it again, not that I expect it to be a masterpiece even when I was young I didn't think that, but I love everybody in it.

    This is the film along with The Court Jester where I discovered Glynis Johns and I've been enchanted ever since. I'm sure I saw Mary Poppins first but it was all Julie Andrews for me there. Bewitching in everything but, beside the two I already mentioned, I particularly enjoyed her in The Chapman Report(a daffy delight), Miranda and her segment of Encore. I love All Mine to Give as well but have to be in a particular mindset to watch it, so sad! I find it odd that it's considered a Christmas movie.

    Back to Dear Brigitte, it is pure fluff but I loved that the kid was the smartest person in it but was still just a kid. Nowadays he'd have to be some tortured genius with social adjustment problems, blah, blah, blah. Also I loved the young Fabian, never the best actor but when he smiled who cared.

  2. I have just seen this now, in Sep 2014! I like Glynis a lot too, she is 90 now,so one hopes she is well. She had a great career - I met her in 1966 when she was doing a play in London - playing Anne of Cleves opposite Keith Michell's Henry VIII in "The Kings Mare". I remember a small lady with giant false eye-lashes! Love her in The Chapman Report, Court Jester and others, and that high diver in Encore. She is one of my Great Dependables!