Monday, March 15, 2010
Olivia de Havilland is Government Girl (1943)
I remember watching this movie a long time ago on AMC. When AMC was good, showing classic films commercial free. I think it was around the late 80's or early 90's. And I remember laughing quite a bit. Haven't seen this film shown on TV since then. Government Girl is a rare foray by Olivia de Havilland into the genre of screwball comedies. Olivia was mainly known for her many films with Errol Flynn and several prestige women films like To Each His Own, Devotion, and of course Gone With The Wind. But here in Government Girl, she gets to let loose and be screamingly funny. Set in Washington, the film features Olivia as Elizabeth "Smoky" Allard, a take charge secretary who has to help a visiting businessman named Ed Browne (a solid Sonny Tufts) deal with the mire and muck in D.C. He's trying to set up factories that will produce the planes that will be key in winning the war in Europe and in the Pacific. Of course, he's not used to dealing with the politics of D.C. and Smoky has to show him the ropes. They must contend with government sanctions, greedy investors, and a snobbish Washington matron (the always entertaining Agnes Moorehead). You could almost say this film borrows from Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and it does, but there are more moments in this film where screwball antics take control. Like when Smoky hitches a ride on the back of a motorcycle driven by Ed and he drives like a maniac, with Smoky screaming hysterically behind him. Another good scene is when Smoky and her best friend May (the talented Anne Shirley) pretend to get drunk to trap a spy for the feds. Only the girls do wind up getting drunk for real and put on quite a show for the bad guy. It's a very funny scene. Props to Olivia for doing a frenetic role like this because she gives it her all and is quite enjoyable. I wished she had did more films like this in her career. Since it's not available on DVD as of yet, the next time it airs on TV, check out Government Girl to have a very good time.