Comedy Oddities: I’ll Be Yours

I'll Be Yours indexBased on “A jó tündér” by Ferenc Molnár, the same play that 1935’s The Good Fairy also adapted, this also comes with a nod to Preston Sturges script on that film and was clearly influenced by it. Sturges version saw Luisa Ginglebusher (Margaret Sullavan) have to put up with the clumsy and sometimes quite unsettling attempts of various men to seduce her, though fortunately she had kindly waiter Detlaf (Reginald Owen) and sexy lawyer Dr Sporum (Herbert Marshall) to look out for her.

This 1947 movie is very similar too, there’s a couple of minor name changes with Luisa becoming Louise (Deanna Durbin), and Detlaf becomes Wechsberg (William Bendix) and Dr Sporum is known as George Prescott (Tom Drake) but otherwise the plot beats are remarkably similar as Louise is new to the city but the kind if slightly argumentative Wechsberg takes her under his wing and gets her an invite to a posh society do that he’s working at.

While at the do Wechsberg gives her tips as to how to fit in to high society, and it’s here that she meets the shitty and pompous J. Conrad Nelson. She sings an operatic number to pretend she’s an entertainer and has an excellent voice but boy does it go on for far too long, as does a scene which follows where Nelson drags her off to his apartment and tries to seduce her. Nelson is more forceful than The Good Fairy’s Konrad (Frank Morgan), and while he doesn’t get his own way he’s equally as reprehensible, and the only way she escapes his unpleasant behaviour is by lying and saying she’s married.

Rather than picking a name out at random as she did in The Good Fairy, here Louise mentions she’s married to a lawyer she briefly met, and inevitably the two then end up falling for each other though it’s in a less than amusing way. There’s a similar scene where she gets him to shave off his awful looking beard, but a shopping scene is replaced by a boat ride and Louise singing a bit, and it’s not funny at all. Not that it’s meant to be, but it makes for a much duller film, and then George than proposes instantly because people sure did fall in love far quicker in the forties than they do now, but though the course of true love is never a smooth ride it’s rarely less exciting than it is here.

It’s by no means a bad movie but given how similar it is to the 1935 version I can’t help but feel that there isn’t any point in it existing, and anyone who has seen the original shouldn’t bother with this. Louise is a slightly savvier and less naïve character than the first take on the play but Detlaf was a lot more fun than Wechsberg, and Prescott is utterly bland and a almost completely lacking in charm. The dialogue is fine in places but the majority of the time it’s only gently amusing, the film starts off well but once Prescott becomes a major player the film starts to drag.

This is a muted take on the story and in some ways that’s no bad thing, at least the behaviour of the various men who treat Louise poorly isn’t quite as horrifying even if its still undeniably bleak, but otherwise the romance is blander, the dialogue blunter, and the moralising more tiresome especially as it goes as far as to redeem the ever dodgy Mr Nelson so that the film gives everyone a predictably happy ending when he definitely didn’t deserve one. With a more fun central romance this could have been worth recommending, but with a second half that made me regret watching the film it sadly really isn’t.

★★

Alex Finch.
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