Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wallflower (1948)

Robert Hutton, Joyce Reynolds and Janis Paige in Wallflower (1948)

Sisters Jackie (Joyce Reynolds) and Joy (Janis Paige) are polar opposites. Joy is the flirtatious fun-loving one, always getting attention from the opposite sex. Jackie is the sensible one. A bit too sensible. She scares all the guys away with her straightforward demeanor. While on leave from college, Jackie and Joy are back home with their rather ditzy but well-meaning parents Mr. Linnett (Edward Arnold) and Mrs. Linnett (Barbara Brown). Jackie is excited to see her old pal Warren James (Robert Hutton). Warren is smitten with Jackie and the feeling is mutual. After having not seen each other in 5 years they both are surprised and pleased to see each other again. However, the voluptuous Jo, clad in a scintillating bathing suit, catches Warren's eye. Much to Jackie's chagrin those two start dating. When Mr. and Mrs. Linnett sponsor a local country club dance, everyone's got a date except for Jackie. Will Jackie be able to come out of her shell and blossom from wallflower to desirable match for Warren? Will Warren realize that Jackie, not Joy, is the girl for him?

Released by Warner Bros. Wallflower (1948) is a whacky screwball comedy. Just the sort of light fare needed for a post-WWII generation. It's directed by Frederick De Cordova who is best known as the longtime executive of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He worked on the show for 22 years and stayed on in an advisory capacity when Jay Leno took over and did so until his death in 2001. In the mid-to-late 1940s De Cordova was mostly working on romantic comedies. Wallflower was based on a play by Reginald Denham and Mary Orr. It was adapted to the screen by husband and wife team Henry and Phoebe Ephron. The Ephrons worked together on numerous films including There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), Daddy Long Legs (1955), and Captain Newman M.D. (1963). They're also the parents of one of my favorite directors/writers Nora Ephron.

The story starts off as a sweet family comedy about two very close sisters, as different as can be, and their meddling yet clueless parents. When Hutton's Warren steps into the picture it escalates into a screwball comedy complete with a drunken attempt at elopement. Several scenes in the film reminded me of Good News (1947) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). There's nothing earth shattering here. This is light 1940s fluff for people who love 1940s fluff. And if that's not your thing then this movie is not for you.

As of the publication of this article, female leads Joyce Reynolds and Janis Paige are still with us. This is quite remarkable for a film from the 1940s! Reynolds had a very short lived career with Warner Bros. Just as she was getting more starring roles in films, she abruptly retired from the film industry after making her final movie Girl's School (1950). Paige went on to have a long career in TV and film. Reynolds and Paige are a delight in Wallflower. I love that their characters are not pitted against each other even with their differences and competition for the same man. There's no real animosity between the two.




Wallflower (1948) is new to DVD and available from the Warner Archive Collection. When you use my buy links you help support this site. Thanks!

George, Matt and D.W. discuss Wallflower on the Warner Archive Podcast's October Sweet Horror episode (about 18 minutes). George Feltenstein calls the film "buoyant and charming".

Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Thank you to Warner Archive for sending me a copy of Wallflower (1948) for review!

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