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.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Vacation time: Holiday for Lovers / Bon Voyage!

HOLIDAY FOR LOVERS. Like Disney’s BON VOYAGE (below) this 1959 20th Century Fox family comedy  (which I remember seeing as a child) starts out fun but soon gets tedious and one ends up begging for it to stop as it seems far too over-long and we lose patience with most of the characters. Jane Wyman coasts in both films, as the understanding wife and mother, but gets nothing much to do. Here, father is Clifton Webb, a consulting psychologist in Boston, whose older daughter Meg (Jill St John) a promising sculptor if you please, goes to Sao Paulo in Brazil to study with famous architect, Paul Henreid. She seems to be getting involved so parents and other daughter Carol Lynley are soon South America bound – cue endless airplane interiors, and lots of location shooting as our cast stand in front of lots of back projections of Sao Paulo, as it is obvious they never left the back-lot. Jill indeed seems smitten with the suave Henreid, but it turns out to be his boorish, beatnik son (Nico Minardos) she is romantically involved with, while Carol inexplicably falls for army fellow Gary Crosby. After trekking around Sao Paulo endlessly, the family head off to Rio and we see some of the carnival (maybe the same one used for the film BLACK ORPHEUS, also that year), and if that wasn’t enough local colour (all that’s missing is Carmen Miranda!), then it is off to Lima in Peru for a bull-fight. Then everything stops for a flamenco number or two from Jose Greco and the misunderstandings get sorted out, as we wind up in Trinidad – don’t ask! Directed by Fox reliable Henry Levin; at least Clifton gets to do a few South American dance steps. Fascinating though to luxuriate in air travel as it was over 50 years ago, and Sao Paulo certainly looks great, if not as teeming as it is these days. We like Clifton Webb a lot here at The Projector - see label, and Jane was certainly engrossing in that Sirk classic ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS. she was third choice here after Gene Tierney and then Joan Fontaine both had to drop out due to health reasons (or maybe they realised they really had nothing much to do here) - it would have been nice though to have seen Gene's LAURA re-teamed with her Waldo Lydecker! while Joan could raise those eyebrows and be more acerbic than bland Jane. 

BON VOYAGE!, 1962. Comic adventure awaits the Williard family from Terre Haute, Indiana, when Harry packs up the wife and kids and sets sail on a long-awaited “dream” vacation to romantic France. However, their trip includes some unforeseen adventures: his wife Katie is pursued by a Hungarian admirer, his daughter Amy meets a brash young playboy, and Harry himself gets hopelessly lost on a tour of the Paris sewer system (he is a plumbing contractor)! Join the Williards for a hilarious, whirlwind trip they’ll never forget!

So says the blurb, but this is Disney corn which at 132 minutes is way overlong, with terrible pacing from Disney hack James Neilson, but it looks like they really went to France on a transatlantic liner which takes up most of the first half of the film. Fred McMurray and Jane Wyman coast on autopilot, Deborah Walley (wasn’t she a GIDGET?) is a pallid daughter, while Disney kids Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran reprise their usual roles. Its all an over-long travelogue around Paris – Francoise Prevost has a good moment as the coded  working girl who tries to pick up Fred, and then his son; Ivan Desny pursues Jane, Michael Callan gets to dance a bit and finally Jessie Royce Landis has some fun as his overbearing snooty society mother (above), while British Richard Wattis also pops up, as it all finishes up on the Riviera. 

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