Where do I begin? How do I even talk about such an odd movie? Oh dear! Well, here goes nothing...
Tish (1942) is an adaptation of the Tish stories by Mary Roberts Rinehart. Tish Carberry (Marjorie Main) is part of a threesome of spinsters which includes Aggie Pilkington (Zasu Pitts) and Lizzie Wilkins (Aline MacMahon). Together they cause all sorts of ruckus in their small New England town. Tish lives in her childhood home, now owned by her nephew Charlie Sands (Lee Bowman), and her friends live in a nearby boarding house along with the orphaned teenager Cora Edwards (Susan Peters). All three ladies practically raise Cora.
Now let's add some romantic entanglements, shall we? Cora is in love with Charlie who is newly engaged to Kit Bowser (Virginia Grey) whose brother Ted (Richard Quine) is in love with Cora. That's quite a mess, no? Tish tries to meddle in the love lives of the young folks by trying to fix Cora up with Charlie. She takes them on a camping trip together (some hilarious moments ensue) but Cora has a change of heart. Charlie marries Kit in a church ceremony and Cora and Ted secretly elope before Ted is sent off to war.
So far this film is a light comedy about three delightful spinsters in a small New England town and the young people in their lives. The romantic entanglement, more of a circle than a triangle, gets settled but then the story takes a bizarre turn for the worst.
Cora becomes pregnant, finds out Ted is lost at sea, faints, has her baby and dies. Yes, dies. What the heck? Tish finds out about the baby and takes him into her care. But realizes that it might be a bit complicated because the baby is not hers nor did she go through the proper channels to legally adopt him. So Tish tells everyone she had the baby. No one believes her because she's too old to have a baby. She is so adamant that everyone starts to think she's crazy. Charlie reluctantly puts her in a mental institution. Eventually things resolve themselves and there is a happy yet somewhat bittersweet surprise at the end but good grief.
What could have been just a light 1940s comedy turned out to be a rather bizarre curio of the time. I haven't read the Tish stories so I'm not sure how much this film stays true to the original tales.
This film is notable because of Susan Peters and she's the main reason I watched the film. Playing Cora in Tish (1942) was Susan Peters' first substantial role at MGM. Studio heads were impressed with her and she went on to do Random Harvest (1942) and several other films. Peters was being groomed to become a leading lady and a starlet all thanks to the film Tish. Also, Susan Peters met her future husband Richard Quine while making this film. Peters and Quine married the following year, adopted a son and later divorced in 1948. Susan Peters became paralyzed as a result of a hunting accident in 1945, continued to have health problems and died in 1952 (it's a complicated story that I won't go into in this post). Researching the life of Susan Peters is a pet project of mine so it was imperative that I watch Tish (1942).
Susan Peters is really delightful in this film as are the other actors. So if you are a fan of anyone in the cast, Tish is worth at least one viewing. I'd like to also point out that Guy Kibbee has a supporting role as Judge Bowser (father of the characters Kit and Ted). Kibbee has some hilarious scenes and his character is often put in embarrassing situations courtesy of the three spinsters. Note that Aline MacMahon and Guy Kibbee played a couple in Gold Diggers of 1933 so it's nice to see them together again in Tish!
One last note for vintage hair and fashion enthusiasts. Watch this film for the outfits and hairstyles of Susan Peters and Virginia Grey. You'll get lots of ideas because the wardrobe and hair departments took extra effort grooming these two young ladies for the film.
Tish (1942) is available on DVD MOD from Warner Archive.
Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. I received Tish (1942) from Warner Archive for review.