Monday, July 18, 2011

The Girl Most Likely (1957)

The Girl Most Likely (1957). The film, a remake of Tom, Dick and Harry (1941), directed by Mitchell Leisen. Cast: Jane Powell, Cliff Robertson, and Keith Andes. The choreography is by Gower Champion. This was the last film produced by RKO Radio Pictures and was distributed by Universal Pictures.

While bank clerk Dodie heads back to Balboa Bay, California, she daydreams about meeting a wealthy man.

Later, her boyfriend, real estate agent Buzz, takes her to Lovers' Beach, where he tells her that he was promoted and will give her a wonderful life. Even though Dodie is not love him, she accepts.

Once at home, she day dreams about her beautiful wedding, but her daydream quickly turns into a vision of a life of social climbing.

At work the next day, Dodie shares the news about her engagement with her best friend Marge, but is quickly distracted when the yacht of millionaire Neil Patterson, Jr. sails by. While She and Marge take the ferry home, they watch a man leaving his yacht by motorboat, Dodie impulsively jumps into the water to catch his attention.. He comes to her rescue and asks her out on a date for that night.

Dodie's father at first, does not like her cheating on Buzz, but..when he hears that her date is a millionaire, he helps her get ready. While on their date, it is not long before she realizes that her date is not Neil, but Neil's mechanic, Pete. Dodie and Pete, have a wonderful time debating about her obsession with marrying a wealthy man. By the end of the night, Dodie, feels the way she has always dreamed of feeling, as if she is on a pink cloud and except his marriage proposal. After Pete leaves, she daydreams that she is a Indian squaw, with nine children but enjoying a passionate marriage.

The next night, Pete waits outside Buzz's office, and pretends to be looking for a house. Buzz, breaks his date with Dodie to show Pete a house, insisting that Pete bring along his fiancee. When he sees Dodie, Buzz is heartbroken, and leaves the couple by the ocean, forcing them to walk home.They hear a cry for help and find a drunken Neil, in the water. While Pete runs off to find help, Dodie charms Neil, who asks her on a date.

The next evening, she meets him on his yacht and they head for Tijuana, where they meet Marge and Sam and the four dance all night until Neil buys a cab to drive a drunken Dodie home at four a.m. Both Buzz and Pete are waiting for her and all three men demand that she must choose one fiancee, but.. she is too drunk to think clearly, so who will she pick?

This is a charming, film. A remake of a Ginger Rogers film called Tom, Dick or Harry. Wonderful cast: Jane Powell, Kaye Ballard in one of her very rare movie roles and a great supporting cast: Frank Caddy, Una Merkel, Cliff Robertson, Tommy Noonan and Keith Anden. The choreography by Gower Champion is wonderful. I loved the number on the beach and a score by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.

Una Merkel (December 10, 1903 – January 2, 1986).Merkel looked like actress Lillian Gish and began her career as a stand-in for Gish, most notably in the film, The Wind(1928), a late silent film. Merkel performed in a few films during the silent era, Love's Old Sweet Song (1923). However, she spent most of her time in New York City working on Broadway.

Merkel returned to Hollywood and achieved her greatest success with "talkies". She performed in the film, Abraham Lincoln (1930). During the 1930s, Merkel became a popular second lead in a number of films, usually playing the wisecracking best friend of the heroine, supporting actresses such as Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Loretta Young, and Dorothy Lamour. She played Sam Spade's secretary in the film, The Maltese Falcon (1931). Merkel was an MGM contract player from 1932 to 1938, performing in as many as twelve films in a year. 

In 42nd Street (1933), Merkel played a streetwise showgirl who was Ginger Rogers's character's buddy. In the famous "Shuffle Off To Buffalo" number, Merkel and Rogers sang the verse: "Matrimony is baloney. She'll be wanting alimony in a year or so./Still they go and shuffle, shuffle off to Buffalo." Merkel performed in both the 1934 and the 1952 film versions of The Merry Widow, playing different roles in each. One of her most famous roles was in the Western, Destry Rides Again (1939) in which her character, Lillibelle, gets into a famous "cat-fight" with Frenchie (Marlene Dietrich) over her husband's pants, won by Frenchie in a crooked card game. She played the daughter to the W. C. Fields character, in the film, The Bank Dick(1940). Her film career began to fade during the 1940s. In 1950 she was the leading lady in a baseball comedy, Kill the Umpire.

She had a major part in the film, The Mating Game(1959) as Paul Douglas's wife and Debbie Reynolds's mother, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Summer and Smoke (1961). Merkel, whose final film role was in the Elvis Presley film, Spinout (1966).

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