Today I’m going to publish this week’s first 100 New Code Films article. I don’t usually write these articles until the weekend, but this week I am publishing on Tuesday so that this article can also be an entry in a blogathon which ends today. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, I use it to review American Breen Era (1934-1954) films which I have never seen before. Since we declared August to be #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020, we are trying not to watch or review any Code films during the month. However, we make an exception by continuing this series. I watched the film on July 31.
Today’s topic is Duchess of Idaho from 1950. I like to complete as many actors’ Code filmographies as possible, since it brings me closer to my goal of seeing every Code film ever made. I recently realized that I only had a few more of Esther Williams’s Breen Era films to see. I watched one of these films for the Esther Williams Blogathon, The Hoodlum Saint from 1946, and saved the other for the Van Johnson Blogathon because he is her co-star. I watched this film for free on ok.ru.
A shy secretary is in love with her playboy employer, but he only is interested in using her as a romantic decoy when his girlfriends get too serious. She tells her problem to her roommate, a glamorous swimming star. When the boss backs out on taking his secretary to Sun Valley with him for a skiing vacation, the roommate decides to go herself, meet the reluctant Romeo, and get a little too serious, prompting him to invite the secretary. On the train, she meets a bandleader also bound for Sun Valley, and he is immediately interested in her. Although she finds him charming, too, she stays focused on her plan of fascinating her friend’s beloved. Things go a little too well, however, when the eternal bachelor is so enchanted with her that he is unfazed by her marital hints. Meanwhile, the bandleader is jealous, thinking her genuinely interested in the other man.
This film stars Esther Williams, Van Johnson, and John Lund. Supporting actors include Paula Raymond, Clinton Sundberg, Connie Haines, Mel Torme, and Amanda Blake.
This movie was directed by Robert Z. Leonard. It was produced by Joe Pasternak. The production company was MGM. The original screenplay was written by Dorothy Cooper and Jerry Davis.
This is a good Code film. Like most Joe Pasternak productions, it is decent, wholesome, and full of good clean fun. The costumes are decent, the humor is clean, the song lyrics are totally acceptable, and the romance is very wholesome. There is nothing objectionable about this film. It is as wholesome and morally correct as you could want.
I highly recommend this movie. It will be especially enjoyable to those who enjoy music, but you don’t have to be a musical fan to appreciate this lighthearted romantic comedy. Like most Joe Pasternak films, it is a barrel of fun with an interesting plot, heartwarming romance, and musical talents to boot. The acting is great in this movie. Esther Williams creates a very interesting character as Christine Duncan, a woman who is eager to help her friend, Ellen (Paula Raymond), even if it means eating a few greasy duck dinners cooked by Douglas Morrison (John Lund), the playboy who thinks himself a chef. Van Johnson is charming as Dick Layne, the bandleader who is determined in his admiration of Christine. John Lund keeps us guessing as Douglas, alternating between being conceited and slightly obnoxious, as he is in many films, and being charming and likable. Paula Raymond is not a name or a face with whom I am familiar, but she is great in this part. She is very cute as the unsophisticated but sincere secretary. This movie is set apart, however, by its unique setting. Estival Esther Williams, Hollywood’s bathing suit queen, spends a surprisingly large amount of the film in snowy Sun Valley, skiing, ice skating, and enjoying other hibernal activities. Don’t be worried, though; she performs a couple of impressive swimming routines. In addition, some excellent musical talent is displayed by the band and the Jubilaires, who are led by Van Johnson in a few very cute numbers. Lovely Lena Horne sings one song. Eleanor Powell also appears in a cameo in her final film. She does an amazing dance routine in the ballroom, looking lovely in Technicolor. Red Skelton also makes a cameo appearance, proving a few moments of comic relief. Mel Torme has a small role as a bellboy, but he unfortunately doesn’t get to display his musical talent, since his only song was cut. In all, this is a delightful film.
For the Blogathon
This is my second article for The Fourth Annual Van Johnson Blogathon, which is being hosted August 23-25 by Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood. This event honors Van Johnson’s 104th birthday, which is today. Happy Birthday, Van! If you want to see Van’s lesser known talent, singing, this is a great film to introduce you to his musical abilities. I only recently discovered that Van could sing, and I was delighted by his songs in this film. Another charming part of this story is when he and Esther Williams cut a rug together during the Duchess of Idaho contest, which requires participants to dance many ballroom styles while suspending a potato between their foreheads. It’s a fun, challenging dance which looks great! In this film, Van Johnson shows why he was the bobbysoxers’ sweetheart, since he is a lovable young man who could charm any girl.
Thank you for hosting this blogathon, Michaela! I enjoyed this opportunity to review a wonderful new film by my favorite producer, Joe Pasternak. Speaking of Mr. Pasternak, I invite my hostess and all my readers to join my blogathon in his honor next month, the Joe Pasternak Blogathon! If you love movies like The Duchess of Idaho, you won’t want to miss this event! Click the link below for more details.
Click here to join our month-long abstinence from American Breen Era (1934-1954) movies to create greater appreciation for the Code, #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!