Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chicken Every Sunday

So I watched Chicken Every Sunday off my DVR since going through the screencap thing is a pain right now. The movie is available on DVD from Fox's MOD system, and can even be purchased at the TCM Shop. So I'm OK doing a full-length post on it.

Celeste Holm plays Emily Hefferan, who in the film's opening scene is seen going to visit a lawyer in Tucson somewhere in the 1910-1920 range; I don't think the exact dates are given. Anyhow, she's going because she wants to get a divorce from her husband. The lawyer recognizes her name; after all Hefferan seems to be on the name of every business in Tucson. Why on earth would she want to get a divorce from Mr. Heffernan? Well, she's going to tell him....

Flash back 20 years or so to her wedding day, at a time when there wasn't much to Tucson. Emily is getting married to Jim (Dan Dailey), a man who seems pressed enough for money that he has to borrow some from a friend to pay the preacher. Emily is already aware of this, and has prepared by taking in another recently-married couple to be boarders in their house, which will pay the bills, especially the mortgage. Jim doesn't have much money, largely because he's invested in any number of businesses which he hopes will bring in big financial returns, but all seem to be less than successful.

This goes on, and every time Jim makes a new investment, Emily takes in more boarders to help pay the bills. The family is growing with three children, the eldest of whom, Rosemary (Colleen Townsend) grows up to be a fine young woman. Jim continues his scheming, ultimately coming up with a land purchase that he hopes will yield a copper mine.

It's this part of the movie that brings the climax both for Jim and for the other characters' sub-plots. Jim is looking for a particular investor Kirby (William Frawley, in a horrendous toupee); Kirby is looking for his estranged wife Ruth (Veda Ann Borg) and trying to dump her mother on somebody. Rosemary, however, likes Geoffrey (Alan Young) but he's too shy to pursue her; Harold (William Callahan), hor his part, is willing to pursue her.

It's all supposed to be a nostalgic look back to the turn of the century, a period which was getting a lot of looks in movies of the period. Fox also had The Late George Apley; other studios had things ranging from Meet Me in St. Louis to Two Weeks With Love. This one, however, has a big problem, in Jim's character. He's a Jack Carson-level chancer, consistently irritating everybody with his investments that everybody else refers to as get-rich-quick schemes. And frankly, it makes his character a turn-off. You wonder what Emily ever saw in Jim in the first place. The movie is well-enough made, it's just that when you have a lead character like Jim Heffernan, it makes it tough to like the movie.

Then again, some people may have differing views; you'll probably want to judge for yourself.

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