100 New Code Films – #71. “One Sunday Afternoon” from 1948

100 New Code Films

Today is Friday, so it’s time for this week’s first 100 New Code Films article. The purpose of this series is to expand my knowledge of the American Breen Era (1934-1954) by watching as many films made during this time as possible. This isn’t a difficult task, since my favorite movies are the Hollywood productions made during this Golden Era! I share my discoveries with my readers through my bi-weekly reviews in this series.

One Sunday Afternoon (1948) - IMDb

Today’s topic is One Sunday Afternoon from 1948. I heard about this film during #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020, and I was curious about it, since I realized it was a remake of The Strawberry Blonde from 1941. The Strawberry Blonde is my favorite James Cagney film and the first Olivia de Havilland movie I ever saw, so I really like that movie. I knew that that was a Code remake of the pre-Code One Sunday Afternoon from 1933, but I had no idea that there was a second Code version of this story. I watched this film on Tuesday night.

The CinemaScope Cat: One Sunday Afternoon (1948)

Plot

A pugnacious dentist in training has a yen for a lovely strawberry blonde, along with all the other fellows at the barber shop. His best friend is a shifty but enterprising young businessman, who always manages to leave his friend with the short end of the stick. When the sport arranges a double date with his dentist friend for the strawberry blonde and one of her companions, the dentist is left with her friend, an outspoken suffragist. The other man ends up swindling him out of the strawberry blonde’s hand by marrying her himself, leaving the dentist to marry the now domesticated suffragist. He holds a grudge against his former friend’s treachery for years, but perhaps he ended up with the right girl, after all.

Amazon.com: ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON (1948 Ralph Blane SHEET MUSIC), pristine  condition, from the fiom ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON with Dennis Morgan  (pictured): Entertainment Collectibles

Cast

This film stars Dennis Morgan, Dorothy Malone, and Don DeFore. Supporting actors include Janis Paige, Ben Blue, Oscar O’Shea, and Alan Hale Jr.

See the source image

Production Notes

This movie was directed by Raoul Walsh. It was produced by Jerry Wald. The production company was Warner Bros. The screenplay was written by Robert L. Richards, from the play by James Hagan.

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Code Compliance

This is a good Code film. It is totally decent, wholesome, and free from objections. The only objection in The Strawberry Blonde is that Virginia (Rita Hayworth) wears one dress with a very low neckline. I was glad to see that, although several costumes from the original film were obviously reused in this movie, that risque dress was not one of them. All the costumes are decent. This film contains no Code violations.

One Sunday Afternoon (1948) -- (Original Trailer)

Recommendation

I recommend this film, but I must admit that it pales in comparison to The Strawberry Blonde. Watching this film after seeing the other Warner Bros. movie first is like watching another cast of a stage play you love in the original cast recording. The scenarios and names were the same. Much of the dialogue was identical. Many of the sets and costumes from the original were obviously reused. The Technicolor film vs. black-and-white was the only thing that made the repurposed sets and costumes less recognizable. Other than color, the only new element which this film provides is music, and the songs don’t provide much. Most of them are old tunes from the era in which the story is set. Dennis Morgan is a good singer, but leading lady Dorothy Malone’s voice is overdubbed. The songs halt the story rather than add to it. This isn’t a bad movie. I did enjoy it. It just is far inferior to The Strawberry Blonde. The main problem is that some of the actors are miscast. Especially problematic is Dennis Morgan as Biff Grimes. Although he is Irish, that is where his similarity to James Cagney’s feisty Hibernian ends. Biff’s love for fights is toned down in this storyline, but not enough. I have never seen the pre-Code original, but I imagine that the usually mild Gary Cooper is less hot-tempered than James Cagney in this role. Perhaps Dennis Morgan plays the part more like him, but he is unfortunately saddled with the task of following in Mr. Cagney’s footsteps, with his same dialogue yet! Dorothy Malone is too mild as Amy, lacking both the mischievous imp and the tender heart of Olivia de Havilland’s interpretation. Janis Paige plays Virginia Brush very well. Although the role was written slightly differently, she is very good in this part. Don DeFore is also very good as Hugo Barnstead, Biff’s friend/nemesis. Like Jack Carson, who played the role in 1941, he is comical yet surprisingly sinister in his selfish plans. I was sorry to see that Biff’s father, originally played by Alan Hale, was removed from this storyline, replaced with a comical friend, Nick (Ben Blue), who is a combination of Mr. Grimes Sr. and Biff’s barber friend, Nick (George Tobias). This is a cute, generally enjoyable film. I especially think fans of the leading actors should see it. It is very interesting to see two Code film versions of one story made within seven years of each other by the same studio. However, you should probably see this movie first if you really want to enjoy it. It is a good film in general, but it just didn’t bring anything special or different, and it was unable to replicate the genuine emotion of the 1941 film.

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