Cary Grant, a Commander in the US Army stationed in Honolulu during World War II, is granted four days leave, together with three of his fellow army colleagues, and they decide to head to San Francisco. There, they just want to relax and forget about the horrors of war for a while, but they keep getting pestered by various people who want them to rally the home front and give interviews in order to promote the war effort. Meanwhile, Commander Crewson (Grant) realises that he is falling in love with the fiancee of a rich shipyard magnate…
This 1957 movie was not well received, and time doesn’t seem to have been particularly kind to it either. However, I thought it was better than many reviews would have you believe. It does suffer somewhat due to the fact that it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be an out-and-out comedy, a romantic comedy/drama, or an attempt to highlight the suffering and sacrifices made during the war. Jayne Mansfield is one of the supporting actresses, and while she does her best with her part, I found her irritating and something of a caricature in this film (I accept that she often portrayed the stereotypical dumb blonde, but she was a better actress in other films than she seemed here).
Suzy Parker plays Gwinneth Livingston, the engaged woman who falls for Crewson. Her performance has been criticised for being ‘flat’ but I thought she was fine in the role (she reminded me of Deborah Kerr, and after watching the film I discovered that Kerr had in fact dubbed Parker’s voice).
The film is saved by Cary Grant, who is always likeable and charming in such roles, and provides some much needed comic relief, although I would hesitate to call this a comedy film. Ironically the fact that the film is far from one of his best, actually highlighted his charisma and talent – in the hands of a lesser lead actor, the film could have been a real disappointment. However, due to Grant’s appearing in almost every scene, and peppering the movie with his legendary charm, it becomes watchable if not memorable.
Overall, this is not a dreadful film – but considering the talent involved (directed Stanley Donen, and actors Grant and Mansfield) it could have been so much better. Still worth a watch though if you are a fan of any of the stars.
Year of release: 1957
Director: Stanley Donen
Writers: Luther Davis (play), Frederic Wakeman (book), Julius J. Epstein
Main cast: Cary Grant, Jayne Mansfield, Suzy Parker, Ray Walston, Larry Blyden