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That Funny Feeling

Ring a Ding Ding

That Funny Feeling (1965)

     I fell in love with Bobby Darin as a singer vicariously through Kevin Spacey. That would sound nonsensical if you were unaware of a contemporary flick called Beyond the Sea. That musical biopic was written, directed, produced and starred in by Spacey as his favorite singer, Darin. The story turns Darin’s life into a musical review of sorts, but I digress. My point is, I have never actually gazed upon Darin or his wife Sandra Dee in a film. Frankly, I never had high hopes for either of them as actors, so did not particularly seek out their work. That Funny Feeling, however, left me wanting more.

     This third of the flicks made by the couple takes the standard romantic comedy plot of mistaken-identity/misunderstanding-gotten-out-of-hand and makes it more complicated and plausible than possibly ever before. Darin is Tom Milford, a skirt-chasing executive of some sort with a posh apartment. Dee is Joan Howell, a wanna-be actress and maid who cleans apartments including Tom’s, yet has never met this Mr. Milford.

     The two meet cute three times by colliding with each other on the street and on the third time agree to have drinks. The two are a nice match, but Joan refuses to reveal her occupation and is ashamed to bring the man home to her disgraceful place. Lucky for her, the Milford apartment she cleans is supposed to be vacant for 10 days as Tom intended to go out of town. She does not know his plans have been cancelled. When Joan allows her date to take her home, Tom is baffled to find he is dropping her at his doorstep. He is so confused that he walks away from his own home in a daze.

     Over the course of several dates, Joan continues to pose as Joan Milford (the name is on the door) and live in the comfy apartment while Tom beds down at his boss’ even more posh apartment. The boss Harvey, played by Donald O’Connor, is only moderately accommodating and is none too pleased when he come home to find that Tom has told Joan that the abode is his own apartment. The story continues on with Joan thinking she has fooled Tom but knowing she has a deadline to vacate and with Tom confused as to why this woman has a key to his place but willing to keep up the charade in order to keep seeing her. Predictably, Tom proposes to Joan that she keep the name Milford and continue to live in his apartment.

     That Funny Feeling is well acted and does a great job of pulling the audience into the romantic plot. The lengths the characters go to hide their secrets seem a bit extreme but they are all adequately justified under the circumstances. At times, however, it does seem Joan and Tom have forgotten they are romantically involved as they put so much effort into maintaining their respective facades. Darin was far more handsome and charming than I expected, and Dee came off more intelligent than I anticipated. Her roommate sidekick in Nita Talbot also provides great comic relief. O’Connor makes a welcome addition to the cast and lends his comedic talent more to the delivery of great lines than to his usual brand of zany, face-pulling antics.

     That Funny Feeling, for which Darin wrote and sings the title song that runs during the opening and closing credits, was the last of three movies Darin and Dee made together. The couple met on filming Come September and were married in 1960 before divorcing in 1967. Dee was 18 at the time of their marriage and was known as being a shy virgin, to put it delicately. The two had a son, Dodd, and although Darin would have other companions before his death at age 37 –rheumatic fever as a child had shortened his life expectancy considerably– Dee never remarried.

Source: Ben Mankiewicz

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Anything Goes

Gasser

Anything Goes (1956)

     I have been wanting for some time to see any version of Anything Goes I can manage to because I am such a big Cole Porter fan. The version I found is one of three featuring Bing Crosby in a lead part. He starred in the Broadway play, a 1936 version and this one, which has a different plot than the other two. In this instance (1956), Donald O’Connor teams with Crosby (Imagine my delight!) in a story that pits the two men against two women, in a way.

     Crosby as Bill Benson is a big-time song-and-dance stage star and is looking to make a show that requires another strong male lead and a woman. O’Connor’s Ted Adams is a new star to the scene who thinks he is doing the old man a favor by starring in his show. The two basically agree that Bill will find the leading lady, but when they both visit Europe, each signs his own girl.

     Ted has found a French dancer to play what was supposed to be an American role and signs her to a contract. Bill discovers an American in England who wows him during a musical revue. The two couples meet up on a boat back to the states already aware that they have hired conflicting actresses. Ted is meant to drop Gaby (Jeanmaire) before boarding but fails to, while Bill is forced to hide the other woman from his discovery, Patsy (Mitzi Gaynor).

     The men end up falling in love with the woman the other had chosen for the role, but still seem to agree Patsy is best for the part. The gang also hits trouble when the arrival of Patsy and her father (Phil Harris) in New York means the old man will be arrested for past tax crimes.

     Anything Goes is marked by fantastic dance numbers and songs, as would be expected from the leading men. Ballerina Jeanmaire is a welcome addition for her dancing talent far more than for her acting skills. She is also disappointingly unattractive, which makes it easy for the audience to favor Patsy for the job while making the romance between Gaby and Bill unfulfilling. The Cole Porter songs, however, do not disappoint. The routine for “You’re the Top” utilized an amusing screen divide of sorts as the respective professional couples rehearse in side-by-side rooms while singing the same song to each other. O’Connor and Gaynor engage in an entertaining romantic melody of “Delovely” while dancing on the more functional portions of the steamship, including the railing.

     I enjoyed this version of Anything Goes but would have loved to see the Gaby part cast differently because I found her so intolerably undesirable. The story is otherwise charming and romantic at parts and a cute reimagining of the story that suits Crosby and O’Connor well.

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