… a review, to be followed (probably tomorrow) by some ramblings on film adaptations of books, and why so many tend to fall flat on their faces.
I adore the books of P G Wodehouse. His writing is utterly charming, very witty, and very intelligently (not to mention intricately) plotted. From the loony Lord Emsworth and his pig, the Empress of Blandings, to the always-broke-but-ambitious Ukridge, to Psmith, Bertie Wooster and the omniscient Jeeves… all absolutely fantastic.
What is it that tempts film-makers to say “Ah! Let’s do a remake of this one!”? A conviction that a script that’s worked once will work again? Also perhaps a somewhat egoistic belief that they will be able to make a better adaptation than whoever made the original film? This story, a classic Ernest Lubitsch romantic comedy, certainly had a lot going for it: sweetness, dewy-eyed romance, and a heart-warming wholesomeness set against a backdrop of wartime Budapest. No wonder, a mere 9 years after it was made, The Shop Around the Corner was remade as In The Good Old Summertime.
I admire producers and directors who gamble on completely stereotyped stars and cast them in roles one normally wouldn’t associate with them. For instance, I would probably not have thought of casting Dean Martin, with his playboy image and his singing star persona, as the drunk and pathetic deputy in Rio Bravo. I may not have considered Doris Day (screwball comedy!) appropriate as the stalked woman in Midnight Lace. And I most certainly wouldn’t have thought of casting ace dancer Gene Kelly as the lead man in this entertaining swashbuckler, which doesn’t have a single dance.