Monday, October 15, 2012

Jean Peters, 1926-2000

Today marks the birth anniversary of actress Jean Peters, who was born on this date in 1926. She started her career at Fox in the late 1940s with the Tyrone Power vehicle Captain From Castile, and apparently only signed one of those standard seven-year studio contracts: her credits list seven years' worth of movies, and then she left Hollywood. Perhaps her best role is in Pickup on South Street, but this isn't one of those posts for listing a bunch of her movies with links to the blog posts I've done on them. By a fortuitous streak of serendipity, what's left of the Fox Movie Channel has one of her films on their schedule: As Young As You Feel, early tomorrow morning at 4:40 AM.

Peters isn't exactly the star of this movie; she only plays Alice Hodges, the granddaughter of John Hodges (Monty Woolley, who is the star of the film) and fiancée of Joe (David Wayne), who is the personnel manager at the plant. As I said, this is a movie about the grandfather character. He's 65 years old, and works at a local print shop that's run by some conglomerate in the big city, one of those places where nobody in the corporate office really knows what's going on at a smaller print shop like this. (Shades of the later Solid Gold Cadillac.) As I said, John Hodges has turned 65, and this movie was made in 1951, in the days when a lot of companies pensioned off their workers when they hit 65, whether they liked it or not. And dammit, John doesn't like it! What's an old man to do? He guesses that if nobody from the head office knows what's going on at this small subsidiary, then nobody at the local subsidiary is going to recognize anybody from the local head office. So Hodges disguises himself as the CEO of the corporation and visits the plant; when he "learns" about the mandatory retirement rule, he immediately rescinds it, allowing Hodges to go back to the work that he likes and is good at. Problem solved, right?

Of course not! Or, to put it more accuartely, like one of those cartoons where the characters try to hide stuff under the carpet, only for this bulge to show up that keeps moving every time they try to tamp it down, solving this problem causes other problems. John thought nobody was going to recgnize him, and he was almost right. The problem is, the one person who did recognize him is his soon-to-be grandson-in-law, who has to do something about this. Nobody believes him, though, and Hodges gets to keep playing the CEO. He gets invited to his boss' house (Albert Dekker), at which point the boss' wife (Constance Bennett) decides that she prefers the CEO to her husband and is thinking of filing for divorce! And if that's not bad enough, word eventually gets through to the corporate head office about what's happened, but that's as a result of Hodges-as-CEO giving a stirring speech about business policy, saying things the head office can't possibly renege on.

As Young as You Feel is enjoyable stuff, if nothing particularly earth-shattering. It's not even as tough on business as The Solid Gold Cadillac, and that wasn't particularly hard-hitting compared to what we would start getting in the 1960s and 1970s. Monty Woolley is great, and helped out by a supporting cast that generally does quite well. Thelma Ritter plays his daughter-in-law, while Marilyn Monroe, in one of her first films at Fox, plays Dekker's secretary. It's a small role, but since it's Marilyn Monroe, it's enough to have gotten the movie released to DVD with her phoot on the cover as though she were the star. (On the plus side, I suppose the movie would never have gotten a DVD release if it weren't for Monroe.)

1 comment:

Andy Bueno said...

JEAN PETERS WAS A LOVELY, GORGEOUS LOOKING MOVIE STAR. IT'S A SHAME SHE WAS IN HOLYWOOD LESS THAN TEN YEARS. BUT SHE DID MAKE 19 FILMS THAT ARE WORTHY OF PRAISE -VIVA ZAPATA, CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, APACHE, THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN, BROKEN LANCE, IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING, PICK-UP ON SOUTH STREET (GREAT PERFORMANCE ON THIS ONE), NIAGARA, A MAN CALLED PETER, ANNE OF THE INDIES, AND LATER IN LIFE -PETER AND PAUL AND THE MONEYCHANGERS.