June Allyson

Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945)

Her Highness and the Bellboy 1945

Jimmy Dobson (Robert Walker) has a humble job working as a bellboy at a swanky hotel. When he’s not working at the hotel, he spends his spare time with his friend and co-worker Albert (Rags Ragland), trying to keep him from getting mixed up with gangsters, and their neighbor Leslie (June Allyson), a former dancer who is now disabled and bedridden. Albert and Jimmy like to cheer Leslie up by taking her up to the roof and telling her stories, but Jimmy is completely unaware that Leslie is in love with him.

When Princess Veronica (Hedy Lamarr) arrives in America, she stays at the hotel where Jimmy works. But when she arrives, she accidentally walks into the employee area, she isn’t recognized by Jimmy, who thinks she’s a new maid. He invites Veronica to join him for a walk in the park and they have a lovely time together, but when they go back to the hotel, Jimmy nearly gets fired for hanging around with such an important guest, but Veronica saves him by arranging for him to be her personal attendant while she’s in town.

As Jimmy and Veronica spend more and more time with each other, they become great friends and Jimmy starts to fall in love with her, much to Leslie’s dismay. But Veronica is really in love with Paul (Warner Anderson), a reporter she had been in love with several years before but ultimately left to marry her now-deceased husband. In fact, the whole reason she’s in America is so she can try to win him back. Paul is still too hurt to give her another chance, but she’s not ready to give up. Meanwhile, due to a misunderstanding, Jimmy ends up thinking Veronica is in love with him, too, and at one point, he does have the chance to go back to her home country with her. But when he goes to say goodbye to Leslie, she has some news for him that makes him change his mind.

Her Highness and the Bellboy is what I like to think of as a great Sunday afternoon movie — it’s not great cinema or anything, but it’s simple, charming, lighthearted entertainment that was never meant to do anything more than make the audience smile at the end. Those are the types of movies that always just feel so perfect to me on a Sunday afternoon, hence why I call them “Sunday afternoon movies.” Sure, it’s predictable and hardly innovative, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s like cinematic comfort food; it just makes you feel good and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a cute, fluffy little movie with a happy ending, a few laughs, and a great cast. I ended up liking it a lot more than I really expected to, actually, and look forward to watching it again someday.

What’s on TCM: May 2014

June AllysonHappy May, everyone! April was a rather unusual month for TCM, but it’s back to the usual schedule for May.  June Allyson is May’s Star of the Month and will be featured every Wednesday night.  Friday Night Spotlight returns with a look at Australian cinema hosted by Jacki Weaver. Since I haven’t seen many Australian films, I look forward to having the chance to see more. For Memorial Day weekend, TCM will be having their annual 72-hour marathon of war films.  May’s Guest Programmer is none other than Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, who will be showcasing a few of her favorite movies on May 27th.

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Girl Crazy (1943)

Girl Crazy PosterDanny Chuchill, Jr. (Mickey Rooney) has been living the high life as the son of a wealthy newspaper publisher.  But when his father gets tired of Danny’s scandalous behavior making headlines, he decides to send Danny out west to Cody College to teach him a thing or two about hard work.  And, most importantly, Cody is an all-male college so there won’t be any women to distract him.

But when Danny gets to Cody, he discovers there is one woman around — Ginger Gray (Judy Garland), the dean’s granddaughter.  It’s love at first sight for Danny, but Ginger isn’t as impressed with him.  Danny doesn’t fit in with the other students, he has a hard time adjusting to Cody’s strict schedule and rugged activities and would like to go home, but the prospect of getting together with Ginger motivates him to stay.  After Ginger turns down a marriage proposal from one of the other students at Cody, Ginger starts to warm to Danny.

Cody College suddenly faces a crisis when the Governor announces plans to close the school due to low enrollment.  Ginger is devastated by the news, but Danny comes up with a plan to attract new students by hosting an annual rodeo with a beauty contest.  Ginger loves the idea so the two of them go directly to the Governor to get him on board.  The Governor gives them thirty days to turn the school around, so Danny and Ginger get to work making it happen.  For Danny, that means flirting with a bunch of debutantes to get them to enter the beauty contest, which makes Ginger jealous, especially when he names another girl as Queen of the Rodeo.  But just as Ginger is about to leave, Danny goes to see her and convinces her that she’s the only one he loves. Ginger and Danny get back together, Cody College sees a big increase in student applications, and the college is saved.

Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies are often accused of all being the same and, well, there’s no denying that Girl Crazy has a pretty familiar plot.  But Girl Crazy is by far my favorite out of all the movies Mickey and Judy made together.  Mickey and Judy always had very good chemistry together, but there’s something about them in this movie, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly, that just makes them shine brighter than they did in their other movies.

Girl Crazy also features the strongest bunch of songs featured in any of their movies.  Judy’s rendition of “Embraceable You” is one of my all-time favorite songs and the big “I Got Rhythm” finale is very memorable. Plus, be sure to watch for Tommy Dorsey and June Allyson who both make appearances in some of the musical numbers.  The jokes may be silly and corny, but they always make me laugh.  This is MGM doing what it did best — making wholesome, lighthearted entertainment the whole family could enjoy.  Girl Crazy is simply one of those movies that I can’t help but be happy after watching