Thursday, February 26, 2009

Betty Hutton, 1921-2007

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of actress Betty Hutton. Probably her best-known movie today is The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, from which this photo with actor Eddie Bracken was taken. She was also in the Oscar-winning The Greatest Show on Earth; but I'd like to recommend a different movie: The Stork Club.

Hutton plays Judy Peabody, a hat-check girl at the famous Stork Club, a New York City nightclub. She's got a boyfriend who's currently overseas in the army. One night, Judy happens to see an old man fall off a pier into the river. She jumps in to save him. What she doesn't know is that the man she's saved is wealthy lawyer Jerry Bates (played by Barry Fitzgerald). He wants to thank her properly, but doesn't want her to know whom she saved, so he anonymously sets her up in one of the finest New York apartments money can buy. Needless to say, this causes problems for Judy and her boyfriend once he returns....

The Stork Club is a very light comedy, of the sort that was popular in the 1930s and early 1940s. The story line is at best a stretch, but it's the sort of thing that audiences of the day wanted. Hutton and Fitzgerald both do a good job in giving the 1940s audiences what they would have been looking for, although nowadays, the movie would seem not just old-fashioned, but with all of the bad connotations and none of the good that old-fashionedness implies. This is in contrast to something like It Happened One Night which, while clearly a product of the 1930s, is more "quaint" than "old-fashioned" in that it's still fresh today. In short, if you're a fan of classic movies or a fan of Betty Hutton, The Stork Club is a good diversion. If you want to introduce people to Hutton, start with The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.

For those who are fans of Hutton and 1940s movies, The Stork Club is available on DVD.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Betty Hutton is a great, lost talent. You can watch "The Stork Club" and most of Betty's other films in their entirety at her website,