Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

June Bride (1948) *

Directed by Bretaigne Windust.

Written by Ranald MacDougall from a play by Graeme Lorimer. Photography, Ted McCord. Editing, Ower Marks. Art direction, AntonGrot. Music, David Buttolph. Cast: Bette Davis (Linda Gilman), Robert Montgomery (Carey Jackson), Fay Bainter, Tom Tully, Barbara Bates, Jerome Cowan, et al. Produced by Henry Blanke, Jack L. Warner. A Warner Bros/First National picture. 96 minutes.

One of the two features (the other being "Winter Meeting") both made in 1948 by director Windust, starring Bette Davis.

The memorably, oddly named Bretaigne Windust was rather short-lived (1906-1960) and short on movie credits. He only made five "legit" non-TV films.

His "Winter Meeting" (1948)--a serious romance between an old maid and a returning soldier, was handicapped by its sluggishness. (Curiously the Edmund Goulding "The Old Maid" (1939) was a very successful weepie with Bette Davis, directed by Edmund Goulding.)

Beyond the two Bette Davis vehicles, here are the other Windust pictures.

The romance "Perfect Strangers" (1950) starring Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan as characters who meet on the same jury. Marginally OK, no more. Not to be confused with "Perfect Strangers" (U.K., 1945) shown in the U.S.A. as "Vacation from Marriage." A married couple is changed by their life during World War II. It is a very nice work directed by Sir Alexander Korda and played by a wonderful British cast: Robert Donat, Deborah Kerr, Glynis Johns, Ann Todd, Roland Culver.

Also not to be confused with another "Perfect Strangers" (1984) a sort of thriller written and directed by Larry Cohen who specializes in action and/or monster stuff ("It's Alive!") that appeals to a special public.

Windust's "Pretty Baby" (1950) is, as I dimly remember it, a lightweight, "can-skip" comedy with Dennis Morgan, Betsy Drake and Zachary Scott. Not to be confused with the excellent "Pretty Baby" (1978) by Louis Malle, in which a very young Brooke Shields became a star.

"The Enforcer" (1951) stars Humphrey Bogart as a District Attorney vs. the underworld (Murder Inc.) The solid supporting cast includes the inimitable Zero Mostel. Not to be confused with the "The Enforcer" of 1976, one of the Clint Eastwood-starring "Dirty Harry" series.

The Bogart "Enforcer" is my favorite Windust flick, thanks to Bogart as well as for its intrinsic interest. It is little known, but then so are many of the nearly 80 or more Bogart pictures, mostly of the 1930s --with a few exceptions. Familiarity with this star seems to begin with "They Drive by Night" (1940), expand with the next item, "High Sierra" (1941), take a huge leap forward with "The Maltese Falcon" (1941), explode with "Casablanca" (1942). The rest is history.

Now ("finally!") to "June Bride."

It is an awful movie and a nadir for all concerned.

Carey (Robert Montgomery) is a hot-shot reporter, a good writer back from Europe, and more or less broke. Against his preferences he has to accept a job in a women's magazine. He discovers that his new editor--newly promoted-- is none other than Linda (Bette Davis). They had been lovers some years back, but one day Carey left without notice or a by-your-leave.

Meeting Linda again -- and as his superior, too!-- is most gauchely plotted. His eventual "excuse" for having dumped her is that he, as a convinced bachelor, had reached the point where he was thinking --Heavens forbid!-- of marrying her.

Right away -- and with colossal insensitivity-- he starts flirting with her. They go to dinner together. After a most unbelievable montage of successive nightclubs they return to her apartment. He ism to put it crudely, on the make, again. She fends off his advances. The main gimmick here is that at her place, she keeps turning on the lights (she has an amazing number of lamps) while he goes around turning them off. The long sequence is way protracted and overdone.

Cut to those two, along with a squad of the magazine's employees (photographer, makeup lady, etc.) going to their assignment. It consists of covering a wedding in a small town of provincial Indiana.

That's just the start. I will spare you the developments. Once the New York snobs get to what for them is the boondocks, the film makes sure we get the point that in their eyes the Hoosiers are simple, unsophisticated "hoi polloi" creatures. The Big City denizens treat them patronizingly, smugly, superciliously.

The humor is flat, Carey is insufferably dull, everybody overacts. And that's just for starters. The audience, at least the movie-experienced viewers, guesses right away what's coming: the provincials will turn out to be nice and smart, will show their value (and values) to the magazine's people, show them a thing or two. The scales will fall off the eyes of Linda and Carey who --it is telegraphed from the film's start--will be reunited as a couple.

From the word go, this is bad, heavy-handed/footed, cliched non-comedy, in some ways second-rate Frank Capra-ish. It dates and does nothing for its major stars.

In essence this is an attempt at making a variant in the "comedy of remarriage" sub-genre, one that produced some film gems, such as "His Girl Friday" "My Favorite Wife," "The Philadelphia Story," all starring Cary Grant; Hitchcock's "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery; several others.

Curiously, the most popular guidebook to films --I will not name it-- gives three stars to "June Bride."

De gustibus et de coloribus, non disputandum est.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel