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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gene Kelly and Marie McDonald are LIVING IN A BIG WAY (1947)

Just finished watching this little seen comedy film, Living in a Big Way (1947) on TCM as part of a tribute to director Gregory La Cava. La Cava also directed such classics as My Man Godfrey and Stage Door. In this quaint little film, Leo Gogarty ( Gene Kelly) marries Margo Morgan (Marie McDonald) after a whirlwind romance just before shipping out to war. When he returns, he is surprised to discover not only that his bride is not what she led him to believe, but also that she expects a quick divorce. The majority of the movie has the pair trying to move on from each other after they realize they don't belong together. But unresolved feelings come to the surface and they begin to fall in love all over again. This not being a typical Kelly song and dance film, he stills get to throw in two energetic dance scenes: one at a construction site and another one involving a dog. His dance skills are never in doubt and he always displays an easy going attitude and screen presence.
The surprise is actress Marie McDonald, who was nicknamed The Body in real life. So while her bodily assets are never in question and she is quite beautiful, her acting ability was always seen as suspect. But here she displays a natural flair for light comedy and actually drives the movie in several scenes. Her banter with Kelly is pretty much fire and ice and they play off each other great. And she has one of the best looking hairstyles I have ever seen on a woman. The perfect curls. It's a shame McDonald didn't have a much bigger career. This film was her biggest in her career that end abruptly when she overdosed on drugs in her home in 1965. The movie also features a great supporting cast in Charles Winninger, Phyllis Thaxter, and Spring Byington as members of McDonald's family. So if you get a chance, check out this underrated little comedy from 1947. It's a pleasant way to pass two hours.
B-

5 comments:

Page said...

Hi Monty,

I'm glad you did a nice review of this! It was one of the few movies I taped recently and watched late one night. I had to smile at your commenting on Marie's hair since I noticed how flattering the style was with those loose flowing curls.

Even though it wasn't "My Man Godfrey" caliber I enjoyed it all the same. I may be one of the few but I prefer Kelly in this type of film over his musicals.
Well Done!
Page

KC said...

I've never heard of this. The more movies I see, the fewer it feels like I've seen. You know? Anyway, interesting review--I'm intrigued.

Tom said...

I've never heard of this one either. Not familiar with Mary McDonald, either. Thanks Monty for a great review.

CHØCØГАТЕ AND GØГĐ said...

I watched this one too! I loved it. it was funny. The grandmother had me cracking up! I would give it an A for what it is. It is a true romantic comedy. It had me for a minute cause i didnt know what he and the girl wanted to do....one minute in love and then the next inching closer and closer to the divorce....so it basically kept you interested. I can appreciate that about the film.

Dawn said...

Monty, Wonderful review. I saw that it was on, but.. did not have the opportunity to watch it. Hopefully, it will be on again soon.

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