Sunday, February 11, 2018

It's because they're stuffing

I recently watched We're Not Dressing off my Carole Lombard Glamour Collection box set. The movie is rather the curiosity.

There's not much plot for the first 15 or 20 minutes. Bing Crosby plays Stephen, a sailor on the crew of the yacht Doris, owned by Doris Worthington (Carole Lombard) and her uncle Hubert (Leon Errol). Stephn sings some songs while playing a concertina. Hubert is getting drunk, while going around the ship with Doris' friend Edith (Ethel Merman), and Doris is watching all the proceedings which also include a dancing, roller-skating bear. Eventually, drunk Hubert goes onto the bridge and the charts get blown overboard, while Hubert's drunken antics screw with the wheel, ultimately leading to the Doris running aground.

Ah, but they're lucky in that there's a tropical island nearby. So the main characters along with two princes pursuing Doris (one of whom is a young Ray Milland) wind up there, with Stephen having to take charge because the idiot rich people don't know how to survive on a desert island. They make do as best they can.

It turns out that the island isn't quite deserted. Oh, normally it has no permanent population, but there are two biologists researching the local flora and fauna. These are played by George Burns and Gracie Allen, so you can imagine how much research they were getting done. Doris meets them and gets them to help her try to turn the tables on Stephen, although the two are really falling in love along the way.

I said at the beginning I found this a curious little movie. That's because it seems uncertain of what it really wants to be. Bing Crosby is the lead here and he gets to do a lot of singing. It's supposed to be a comedy, although Lombard is here not in the full comic flower she'd be in a lot of her other movies. (Looking at her filmography, though, I think it's really that her next movie, Twentieth Century, is the one that made her a screwball star.) Not that there's much drama, it's more that the script seems rather muted regarding her character. Burns and Allen on the one hand, and Errol and Merman on the other, both seem to have been shoehored into the movie to make it almost a revue.

I went into We're Not Dressing expecting a typical movie, with a bit of a screwball plot. That's not what I got out of it, so on first viewing I was underwhelmed. However, if you watch it for its various pieces instead of a coherent whole, you'll probably have a better experience. Burns and Allen in particular are in fine form.

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