Susan Slept Here (1954)

Laughing Gravy
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Laughing Gravy
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Joined: September 1st, 2005, 4:44 am

February 16th, 2011, 7:53 am #1

DVD Savant's Review: http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3441here.html

Anybody want to weigh in?
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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panzer the great & terrible
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panzer the great & terrible
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February 16th, 2011, 8:01 pm #2

Thanx for the reminder, G. I loved this picture when it came out, and will enjoy a revisit. Here and with Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Tashlin was at the top of his game. DVD Savant was off base when he said Cahiers du Cinema didn't like Tashlin. Cahiers had no party line -- it was just a bunch of nutty critics who didn't agree on everything to say the least, and Godard for one championed his pictures. Also, a small thing, Tashlin signed himself "Tish Tash" as often as "Tash." If you're interested, he also wrote and illustrated a well-known children's book, The Bear That Wasn't. It's intelligent, even wise, and kids love it. Worth looking for.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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Frank Hale
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Frank Hale
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February 16th, 2011, 10:19 pm #3

For a contrarian view, I’ll say that I’ve seen this film twice and really dislike it. To me it’s 50’s smug smarminess at its worst.

I was very surprised that Mr. Savant gave it a rave, since usually we’re on the same page. Richard Jewell’s comment in The RKO Story has always stuck in my brain: “astonishingly dreadful”.

I enjoy Mr. Tashlin’s cartoons, but the comedy in his features is usually too broad and obvious for my taste. Part of my problem with Susan may be having seen it only in a crummy laserdisc print.
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Laughing Gravy
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Laughing Gravy
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May 29th, 2018, 1:55 am #4



Susan Slept Here (1954) Dir. Frank Tashlin
RKO Radio Pictures
98 min. / Technicolor / 1.66:1
Blu-ray: Warner Archive

Screenwriter Dick Powell has two problems: writer's block and his man-eating fiance, Anne Francis. Well, three problems, actually, when the local cops drop off a 17-year-old juvenile delinquent on Christmas eve; it seems that Dickie boy had expressed interest in interviewing one for a potential script, and the cops felt sorry for the young, ahem, "lady" in question and didn't want her to spend the holiday in the pokey (she'd broken a bottle over a sailor's forehead, perhaps trying to christen him, Powell pal Alvy Moore helpfully suggests). Neither Powell's pal nor his secretary (Glenda Farrell, of all people) are interested in bailing out the screenwriter the way he's bailing out Debbie Reynolds, so he's stuck with her - much to the chagrin, as you may imagine, of Miss Francis but HEY, we haven't even mentioned that this thing is a smug sex comedy, have we? Yeah, Powell - 50 playing 35 but not fooling anybody - and Debbie Reynolds - 21 playing 17 and we can believe that way before we can believe she's a juvenile delinquent - can't keep their hands off each other and EWWWWWWW.

"About as attractive and amusing as an afternoon in the dentist's chair" - The Films of RKO
"Would-be piquant" - Halliwell
"The best - and perhaps most surprising - thing about this film is that for some reason I can't fathom, it didn't make my skin crawl" - Me

Maybe it's because I spend so much time around women younger than me (although not pawing them, and they ain't 17) or maybe I was hypnotized by the dazzling, spectacular Technicolor everything (if Christmas presents looked like that in real life, no one would ever unwrap one), or maybe it was just knowing Debbie wasn't REALLY a virginal teenager, or maybe I'm just a dirty old man, but the film was a minor entertainment instead of a major embarrassment. It was nice to see Mr. Powell dance again (in a fantasy segment that sticks a multi-armed Miss Francis in a spider web, looking like a serial villainess, and Miss Reynolds in a gilded birdcage) and you can't miss Ellen Corby in a bit as a waitress.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Miss Francis, after being ordered out of Mr. Powell's apartment, to the cop: "You'll have to CARRY me out."
Cop to his partner: "Hold my cheese sandwich."

The scene where Anne dresses up like a teenager and tries to seduce Mr. Powell should've gotten somebody in Hollywood arrested. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

So there you have it: Susan Slept Here. "Astonishingly dreadful" or "Won't make your skin crawl, possibly." YOU decide, America.

Whichever way you go, the Warner Archive Blu-ray is stunningly, stunningly gorgeous.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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mort bakaprevski
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mort bakaprevski
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May 29th, 2018, 3:18 pm #5

Lotsa May-December relationships in movies of the early 50's. Probably because the big male stars of the 30's, who still had drawing power, were getting a bit long in the tooth.

For me, the creepiest was LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON. Audrey Hepburn actually looked like a child & Gary Cooper looked like her aged, sickly grandfather. Brrrrrr....
"Nov Shmoz Ka Pop."
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Frank Hale
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Frank Hale
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May 29th, 2018, 6:37 pm #6

It's a pretty icky genre, but IMO the other guys in that particular parade, like Chevalier, Cooper, Gable, and Bogart, had enough screen charisma to pull it off to some degree.

Dick Powell was always merely likeable, as opposed to magnetic. But, really, for me he's just one of many problems with the movie.

When the Blu-Ray came out I was a bit slack-jawed. On their podcasts the crew jokes about the monkey who throws darts to select new releases, but on that one I could believe it.

Nevertheless, there must be people out there who like the film and requested it.
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Laughing Gravy
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Laughing Gravy
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May 29th, 2018, 8:06 pm #7

Well, the Cinesavant for one.

Worst, creepiest 1950s romance for me: Bing and Grace.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Bert Greene
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Bert Greene
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May 30th, 2018, 1:38 pm #8

The first time I recall getting a bit of queasy discomfort over a film couples' age disparity was with "Once More, My Darling" (1949). Robert Montgomery might have been in his mid-40s or so, but seemed to have the bearing of someone who has hit 50 or more, and he was paired off with Ann Blyth, who was either a still a teen, or most definitely still comported herself as a teen. It was an insurmountable barrier for me, and kept me from enjoying what seemed to be an otherwise okay little comedy. Been at least 30 years since I saw it, but that's the way I'm remembering it.
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CliffClaven
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July 11th, 2018, 1:16 am #9

Back in silent and early sound days, actual teenagers were frequently paired with adult leading men, although they were often presented as working adults who might still live with parents. Disney's Snow White was supposed to be all of 14.

Don't know about the reality, but those old films implied adolescence ended a lot sooner, with the girls being eligible grown-ups a good bit sooner than the boys were.

By the fifties teen-age was a thing; a phase after childhood but well short of adulthood. Movie teens could romance each other, but older entanglements were dicy and frowned upon. Plausibly romantic college profs and other "mature" types could end up with coeds, but as a general rule it wasn't open season until a girl was maybe twenty and not acting or dressing like a teenager. The main exception was a classmate boyfriend no more than a year older. Still, once a leading lady is old enough to vote there's no upper limit on the age of her leading man.

We still get geriatric men paired with twenty-something women, but there's a lot more snickering and eww-ing these days. Also, there's an abundance of star actresses who are older and still f-able to Hollywood eyes, so somewhat narrower age gaps are becoming more common.

It's a hot day and I'm stranded on the sofa, so I'm writing long posts.
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