- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Twentieth Century Fox was nothing if not efficient in handling its many properties making sure to squeeze the maximum value out of each of its most popular stories. The Fox Cinema Archive triple feature release of The Pleasure Seekers/Three Little Girls in Blue/The Shocking Miss Pilgrim features two of its three features which were remakes of previously released Fox properties. The Pleasure Seekers put a Spanish-set spin on Three Coins in the Fountain while Three Little Girls in Blue was a musicalized remake of its hit 1941 musical comedy Moon Over Miami. While the two remakes and The Shocking Miss Pilgrim all have their own merits (minimal in the case of The Pleasure Seekers), all three make for a tidy way to add these movies to one’s movie collection provided one hasn’t already purchased them separately. The enclosed discs contain the same transfers which were issued separately.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1, 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 49 Min./1 Hr. 30 Min./1 Hr. 24 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmaray case with leaf
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 12/17/2014
The Pleasure Seekers – 2.5/5
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
Bubbleheaded art student Susie Higgins (Pamela Tiffin) arrives in Madrid to join two friends who are already living there and working: Maggie Williams (Carol Lynley) who’s an administrative assistant at a news service run by Paul Barton (Brian Keith) and entertainer Fran Hobson (Ann-Margret). All three girls are on the lookout for potential husbands, and each becomes involved in various ways with an assortment of men. Maggie has the hots for her married boss though hot-headed journalist Pete McCoy (Gardner McKay) occasionally sends signals her way that she deflects. Fran becomes infatuated with a local doctor Andres Briones (Andre Lawrence), but he’s too intent on setting up a clinic to pay her much attention. Susie falls for a playboy aristocrat Emilio Lacayo (Anthony Franciosa), even though Maggie warns her away from him after her having her own heart broken by him the year before.
Fox was certainly adept at filming these romantic adventures featuring a trio of young ladies: not only the three film versions of Three Blind Mice but also Woman’s World, The Best of Everything, and Three Coins in the Fountain on which this film is most directly based, scripted here by Edith Sommer (adapted, like Fountain, from the book by John Secondari) and directed by Jean Negulesco who also helmed Fountain. The problem is that the three ladies in question just aren’t very interesting. Pamela Tiffin’s airheaded Susie stumbles from one ridiculous encounter with the cad Emilio to another. Yes, he’s handsome and rich: that seems to be all these ladies need to be happy since there’s a definite lack of combustion in all of their relationships. Worst of the three is with the film’s top-billed star Ann-Margret. She’s saddled in a chemistry-free relationship with the wooden Andre Lawrence though as compensation she gets to perform four musical numbers, none especially memorable (by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen) but all of which display Ms. Margret’s considerable charms and wildly swinging red mane: she puts a slight flamenco spin on the title song before seguing into a strictly show tune tempo, she frolics and fawns over her man at a picnic with “Something to Think About,” dances at the beach in a bikini in “Musica,” and ends the movie, not with a ballad when it looks as if her romantic dreams have been dashed but instead, in a curiously upbeat “Next Time.” Carol Lynley’s triangle relationship with her boss married rather unhappily it looks on the surface to Gene Tierney’s Jane could have provided the movie with some actual dramatic meat, but instead it’s played only on the glitzy surface so the girls can stay in a parade of high fashions or, more to the point, various degrees of undress wrapped only in shorty nighties, towels, bra and panties, or a sweatshirt (which Ann-Margret had already displayed for us in Bye, Bye Birdie). And the denouement comes as no surprise and is completely predictable despite in all three cases making no dramatic but instead convenient sense.
Though this film remake of Three Coins in the Fountain has switched its setting from Rome to Madrid, it’s curious that two of the male stars seem to be sporting Italian rather than Spanish accents. Tony Franciosa in particular sounds nothing like a Spaniard and very much like he’d be quite at home at the Tivoli Fountain. Gardner McKay is really wasted in a one-dimensional role as the hot-headed reporter spending more time off screen than any of the other principals. Stalwart Brian Keith isn’t given enough juicy dramatic or comedic material to make much of an impression, and Andre Lawrence’s non-emoting has already been mentioned. The three ladies, of course, are the ones truly in the spotlight, but Carol Lynley plays Maggie much too brittle and bristly while Pamela Tiffin’s cloudy brain functions wear out their welcome long before the movie reaches the halfway point. Ann-Margret pouts and poses in her trademarked way even though saddled with a less than responsive leading man. Gene Tierney has only a couple of scenes to act the jealous, vengeful spouse which she does easily. Isobel Elsom as Emilio’s mother weary of his rakish behavior and Vito Scotti in a running gag as a neighbor who gets his jollies by spying on the half-clad ladies do what they can with predictable material.
Three Little Girls in Blue – 4/5
Sisters Pam (June Haver), Liz (Vivian Blaine), and Myra (Vera-Ellen) Charters take their $3,000 inheritance from an aunt and use it to pose as a high society lady, her secretary, and her maid in Atlantic City in the hopes that Pam can catch an eligible millionaire for a husband and then find suitable matches later for her sisters. Two men immediately make a beeline for Pam: Steve (Frank Latimore) and Van (George Montgomery), but while Steve is really the millionaire, Van is the one Pam really flips for. Liz has a secret crush on Steve herself but she says nothing and doesn’t act on it for fear of ruining the plan. Meanwhile Myra falls for the hotel bellhop Mike (Charles Smith), and since they’re both on the same social plane, make no pretense about being attracted to one another.
The score this time around was furnished by Mack Gordon (who also produced) and Josef Myrow, (Moon Over Miami with basically the same plot five years earlier used a different songwriting team), and they turned out a few standards: “On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City” (which became a kind of unofficial theme song for the city), “Somewhere in the Night” (given a heartfelt, dreamy rendition by Vivian Blaine), and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” the film’s crowning achievement spotlighting as it does the absolutely stupendous dancing talents of Vera-Ellen (who’s dubbed in the film by Carol Stewart, a simply amazing voice double for the star). In this dream ballet, Vera executes tap, ballet, and acrobatic jazz and proves herself peerlessly versatile even if the script does give her only the unexceptional Charles Smith as a vis-à-vis. Vera-Ellen also has another spotlight moment: a lively song and dance “I Like Mike” as she dresses for a date (the choreography is by Seymour Felix). The other two star “sisters” get only one big moment apiece to show their musical gifts: Miss Blaine in the above mentioned ballad and June Haver and George Montgomery (dubbed by Ben Gage) in the flirty up tempo “Oh, My Love.” Celeste Holm, fresh from Broadway triumphs in Oklahoma! and Bloomer Girl, makes her film debut in the last half hour as the man-eating sister of the groom-to-be-Steve. Her “Always a Lady” allows the soon-to-be Oscar winner a chance to mimic some of her Ado Annie comic inflections from Oklahoma! with a surprisingly effective soprano extension which she used in some of her Bloomer Girl numbers (but never this impressively). With spirited direction by Bruce Humberstone and an impressive physical production (the costumes by Bonnie Cashin as especially eye-catching), the movie offers many pleasures that supersede the superficial, over-familiar plot.
After making such a hit in The Dolly Sisters the year before, June Haver was obviously set to become the heiress apparent to Betty Grable at Fox, but it just never really happened in a big way for her. Her singing is more than adequate and she can handle the dialogue well enough, but there’s not much sparkle there. Vivian Blaine who had also had a big hit the year before with State Fair offers a smooth, easygoing contralto, but her comic chops wouldn’t be exploited until Guys and Dolls on the stage in a few years. George Montgomery and Frank Latimore (dubbed by Bob Scott) offer nice looking but fairly empty beaux for the two ladies, neither one being given much in the way of comedy or real romance in parts that are more set dressing than flesh and blood characters. Celeste Holm completely steals the show once she appears, but the film is more than two-thirds over before she graces it with her presence.
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim – 3.5/5
Newly graduated from a New York business college as a secretarial specialist known as a type-writer (named for the newly manufactured Remington machine which a few students had mastered), Cynthia Pilgrim (Betty Grable) is assigned to work for the Pritchard Shipping Company in Boston, an all-male establishment. Company president John Pritchard (Dick Haymes) isn’t keen about having a woman in the office, but his starchy Aunt Alice Pritchard (Anne Revere) demands that he give the young graduate a trial. She charms the office with her skill and efficiency, and she’s eventually hired full-time. Alice is so impressed with Cynthia that she takes her along to her suffrage meeting and introduces her to the members as an example of a woman blazing a new trail in the business world. Cynthia becomes a leader in the movement which makes life with John a bit difficult since he’s fallen in love with her but can’t adjust his old-fashioned ways of thinking about women’s places in business and politics.
Though the basic story is sound (by Ernest and Frederica Maas; screenplay by director George Seaton), the movie is fluffier in nature than it is a serious look at women’s changing roles told in a musical idiom. To its credit, this movie is something rare for Betty Grable, a book musical with numbers which reflect and extend dramatic scenes, but musical comedy tropes like a tedious final reel spat to separate the lovebirds are firmly in place and take away a bit from its original qualities. The George and Ira Gershwin score was allegedly culled from trunk songs and scraps of music left behind after George’s death, reworked by brother Ira and Kay Swift into a workmanlike score for the film. It didn’t produce any standards, but there are a couple of nifty items: the jaunty “But Not in Boston” sung by Cynthia’s fellow Boston-hating roomers, a charming duet for Cynthia and John “Aren’t You Kind of Glad We Did?’ (sung in a hansom cab), and the sweet love song “For You, For Me, For Evermore.” George Seaton’s direction is nothing special apart from a stylish moment after the lovers’ quarrel where Cynthia sees John’s reflection in a mirror singing to her followed by the remainder of the scene filmed and reflected into the same mirror.
Betty Grable is in marvelously warm voice for the movie making 1947 a highlight year for her (her other film that year, Mother Wore Tights, was much more popular than this one and is probably her best film), and seems tailor-made for the 1874 fashions she sports throughout the movie. Dick Haymes, never a strong actor but with a mellow baritone voice which melds beautifully with Grable’s, is acceptable as the set-in-his-ways uptight Bostonian though the script doesn’t do him any favors explaining his turnaround in his belief system by film’s end. Anne Revere gives her usual no-nonsense performance as the crusty aunt, and Gene Lockhart is similarly crusty as the office manager whose opinion of Miss Pilgrim changes over time. Elizabeth Patterson is her delightfully scatty self as Cynthia’s landlady, and Allyn Joslyn gets some fun moments as the most vocal of the anti-Boston roomers.
The Pleasure Seekers – 3/5
Video Rating: 2.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film’s Cinemascope 2.35:1 aspect ratio is faithfully reproduced, but would it have killed Fox to push a button and make this transfer anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions? The lack of said enhancement leads to a lack of sharpness and some noticeable aliasing on occasion. Color is solid enough without much vibrancy (it’s likely a very old transfer) but flesh tones are natural enough. Black levels are only fair, and there are flecks of dirt, dust, and damage to be seen. The movie has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so this film has 12 chapters.
Three Little Girls in Blue – 2/5
The film is presented in its theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Like another Fox Archive release Wabash Avenue, much of the imagery is too dark making certain scenes shot in darkened rooms almost indecipherable with their crushed blacks. The original Technicolor elements have long since been junked and now are a very pale (and often washed out looking) imitation with the Eastmancolor materials which are left to work with. Sharpness is well above average, but the lack of clean-up for these MOD films means there are plenty of specks, a scratch here and there, occasional debris, and the reel change markers in full view. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so there are 10 chapters.
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim – 3.5/5
The film is presented in its original theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Though the transfer isn’t as unnaturally dark as the one for Wabash Avenue, it does have some issues with darkness in scenes from time to time. Color isn’t as always over-saturated either as in that other film, and sometimes it’s quite striking and appealingly lush, though occasionally hues can get too hot and unnaturally bright. There is also some color fringing in a couple of scenes. Black levels can be good, but in the darker scenes can verge on crushing. The element used for the transfer is much cleaner than the one used for Wabash Avenue, though there are specks here and there but thankfully no reel change markers as in the other transfer. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so this film has 9 chapters.
The Pleasure Seekers – 3/5
Audio Rating: 3/5
The movie’s Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound mix is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. Dialogue and song lyrics are easy to understand (though places where there has been dialogue looping are very easy to hear), and the music has more fidelity than one might expect from an old transfer. There are some hints of crackle and a few pops on occasion, but they don’t ultimately mar the listening experience.
Three Little Girls in Blue – 2.5/5
The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. Though it’s a little on the loud side in terms of volume levels, it’s not quite as system threatening as previous Archive releases. The dialogue, music, and sound effects mix well enough without intruding on each other’s territory, but there is some hiss on occasion and more than a few loud pops and some noticeable hum later in the film.
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim – 3.5/5
The Dolby Digital 2.0 encode is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. Fidelity is surprisingly good once the volume level is turned down to prevent distortion. There is some low level hiss that can be heard during the quieter scenes, but it’s not overly distracting. Otherwise, this is a strong mono sound mix typical of its era.
There are no bonus features with any of the three films contained in this set.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
Without question, the two 1940s musicals possess far more entertaining music and livelier performances than The Pleasure Seekers from almost twenty years later. But, customers looking for a deal on the three movies may find this set to be just what they’re looking for. There is no upgrade in visual and aural quality for those who purchased the original issues of these made-on-demand discs.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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