Tea For Two (1950)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB

USA, 1950.  .  Screenplay by , based on the play by , , , and the play by and .  Cinematography by .  Produced by William Jacobs.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

Loosely based on the musical and movie No No Nanette, this one washes away all the naughty sexuality of the story and focuses on post-war obsessions with capitalism.  Set in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, it stars (in her first film with top billing) as an aspiring singer and dancer who has no idea that her guardian () is wiped out as of Black Friday and needs to scale back their lavish lifestyle.  She commits to investing in a big Broadway musical that she will, as a result of her funding, be the star of, unaware that the director who is romancing her is also having an affair with another actress to whom he has promised the lead.  Rather than actually tell her what’s going on with their finances, Sakall makes a bet with Day that if she can so No to everybody and everything for forty-eight hours, she will get the $25,000 she needs for the show, hoping that her inability to avoid material indulgence will undo her.  Unfortunately for him, Day is a champion at the bet, turning down not just purchases and parties but also romance from the crooner (, their first of five pairings together) who loves her and the sexy dancer ( in his breakthrough) who feels puppy love for her.  Musicals never make sense, the bad ones are the ones where you notice that they don’t make sense, so it’s not a harsh criticism to say that everything nonsensical that is happening on screen is merely an excuse for the production numbers; that the song selections are bland and forgettable, however, is far more disappointing (I don’t care what the characters in the film say, “Tea For Two” is no show-stopper) and the only moments of vibrancy come from the terrific dancing by Nelson and Day (in her case doing so onscreen for the first time in her career).  This one is for diehard musical fans only.

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