Today is the 18th day of July; as such, it is the 18th day of #CleanMovieMonth. We have dedicated July to the celebration of the clean entertainment of Joseph Breen’s era at the Production Code Administration (1934-1954). By reviewing a different Code film every day, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the Code’s function in purifying and improving the cinematic entertainment of the Golden Era of Hollywood.
My movie selection for today is The Bride Goes Wild. This movie from 1948 is the latest film which I have reviewed so far. Up to this point, I have written primarily about films from the later 1930s and early 40s. Recently, I have been venturing later with selections such as Seven Sweethearts from 1942 and Follow the Fleet from 1944. I don’t want any of my readers to come to the wrong impression that there are not as many good Code films in the later years of the Breen era. I just have a lot of favorite films from the 1930s and early 40s. Also, I have been basing a lot of my choices on films I have been viewing during this month, and I have happened to watch a lot of earlier Code films. Today, however, we are going to explore a joyful, heart-warming post-War film starring Van Johnson and June Allyson. Although it is full of fun, it also contains important messages about love, responsibility, and being a good example.
Martha Terryton is a high-minded teacher from Connecticut who has just won a competition to illustrate the newest book by famous children’s author Uncle Bumps, The Bashful Bull. She goes to New York City, thrilled at the opportunity of working with a man of such high caliber. Little does she know that this elderly example of morality and decency is a young man named Greg Rawlings with a fondness for drinking and a hatred for children. John McGrath, the frazzled publisher, and his secretary, Miss Doberly, have their hands full trying to keep the “idol of young America” sober and working on his new book. A frequent source of distraction for him is the fact that the girl he loves, Tilly Smith, married a millionaire years ago. Now, she is a widow and may be coming back into his life. Meanwhile, they try to keep him apart from the demure illustrator who avoids alcohol and admires Uncle Bumps for his high caliber. However, Greg can’t help flirting with the pretty young lady when he sees her in McGrath’s waiting room. He leads her to believe that he is an alcoholic author who just needs a friend to have a cup of coffee with him. She sympathizes with him and agrees to accompany him to Joe’s Grotto. Little does she know that the coffee Tasmanian has brandy in it. As they drink the “coffee” and talk, she tells him that she must never drink because she inherited curtain tendencies from her father, who drank. Meanwhile, Greg playfully blows in her ear. However, a bartender comes over, asking for an autograph for his son, and Martha realizes that this swinger is Uncle Bumps, who purposely got her pie-eyed! She goes back to Mr. McGrath’s office to get her sketches, and she reluctantly tells him about the whole incident. He persuades her to break her dinner engagement with her moralist cousin due to her condition. In an attempt to keep Uncle Bumps from being revealed as a moral fraud, he convinces her that Greg drinks because he is a widower with a young, delinquent son. Greg is horrified when McGrath tells him that he must prove the story by acting paternal toward a mischievous lad whom John will acquire from the Brinkley’s Boys Home. He later brings over Danny, a freckled rascal who loves ants and hates women. He agrees to cooperate with Greg for two dollars, and Greg has to agree. Miss Terryton comes over, and she feels sorry for father and son when she sees how mischievous the lad is. She makes it her priority to help the Rawlings’ familial relations by accompanying them on a picnic. As they spend more time together, Greg and Martha grow very fond of each other. Meanwhile, Danny is growing very fond of his counterfeit father. They seem to have the basis for a real family, but a lot of things stand in the way, including Greg’s old flame, Tilly Smith Oliver, and Martha’s beau, Bruce Johnson. Can Greg make Martha understand the truth about him and Danny? Will she forgive him when she learns the truth? Can Greg forget Tilly Smith? Watch the movie to find out!
Greg Rawlings, also known as Uncle Bumps, is played by Van Johnson. Martha Terryton is played by June Allyson. Danny is played by Jackie “Butch” Jenkins. John McGrath is played by Hume Cronyn. His secretary, Miss Doberly, is played by Una Merkel. Tilly Smith Oliver is played by Arlene Dahl. Bruce Johnson is played by Richard Derr.
This is the fourth of six movies which Van Johnson and June Allyson made together. They were considered the boy and girl next door. They both had honest, simple charm. In this movie, June Allyson is her usual sweet self as the principled school teacher. She genuinely cares about children, and it is apparent from the beginning that she cares about the wayward Mr. Rawlings, too. The illustrations which are supposed to have been drawn by her are adorable. Van Johnson is lovable as the wayward author. He is very funny and candid. I think he does a wonderful job of showing his character’s transformation.
Butch Jenkins plays the endearing rascal who starts out as a stinker but proves to just be a lonely little boy. Some of you might recognize the freckle-faced little fellow as Arnold Hanson in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes from 1945, one of my movie choices for The Twelve Days of Christmas with the Code. He plays an adorable scallywag very well. He is an excellent actor. Although he is a trouble-maker, you have to feel sorry for the orphan who has never received a present in his life. I always like movies which feature excellent young actors. Young Mr. Jenkins is excellent as Danny. He looks amazingly like Van Johnson, so he is very convincing as his son.
This story teaches an important moral lesson about a children’s author whose whole life is a fraud. As Uncle Bumps, he seems like a kind, respectable man. However, he really is a swinger who lives only to please himself. In attempting to show his reformation, filmmakers might be tempted to dwell on his previous life of pleasure. They might go so far with the gory details of his immoral, drunken life that they prevented the movie from being the wholesome film that it is. However, the Code ensured that the character of Greg Rawlings was kept within boundaries. His drinking and frivolity are not emphasized. Allusions are made, but they are very casual. Greg’s behavior seems immature rather than downright immoral. If one wants to assume that he is a truly promiscuous, he can. However, in beautiful Code style, no conclusions are thrust upon innocent-minded, unsuspecting viewers. Thus, Greg easily and completely reforms, becoming a lovable hero. This movie has a great moral about the importance of being a good example. It is coupled with sweet moments between Martha, Greg, and Danny. This is a really cute, wholesome, and enjoyable film. I recommend it to everyone!
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