Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1948. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Dorothy Cooper, Dorothy Kingsley, based on characters created by Aleen Leslie. Cinematography by Robert Surtees. Produced by Joe Pasternak. Music by Albert Sendrey, George Stoll. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse. Costume Design by Helen Rose. Film Editing by Harold F. Kress.
Teenaged Jane Powell is a very popular girl whose patience for her bandleader boyfriend has worn thin. After he fails to escort her to a big dance where she is set to perform, she casts her eyes on the town’s new handsome soda jerk (Robert Stack) and asks him to accompany her, not understanding that her inexperience on the arm of an “older” man shows very painfully when she is with him. At the dance, he casts one glimpse at her best friend (Elizabeth Taylor) and is immediately smitten (as is MGM, who sell the movie with Powell’s beautiful soprano voice but clearly market it as a vehicle for Taylor). The big event that the film leads up to is the anniversary party for Powell’s parents, which is complicated when she mistakes her father’s secret rhumba instructor for his mistress; the fact that the instructor is played by the delightful Carmen Miranda is the film’s greatest asset, and her performance of her runaway hit song “Cuanto Le Gusta” is the best scene. Based on the radio program by Aleen Leslie, the film is a delightful trip through its main character’s silly situations, often prompted by her own vanity, and plays like a Meet Me In St. Louis focused mainly on the teenagers. Colourful and fun, it is nothing worth taking seriously but is a charming, old-fashioned delight punctuated by a few nice musical numbers.