Monday, August 16, 2010

Olivia Meets Myrna

This week, we look at the 1956 comedy The Ambassador's Daughter, wherein Olvia plays the title role.  Joan Fiske lives in Paris with her ambassador father (Edward Arnold).  She is engaged to Prince Nicholas Obelski (Francis Lederer) and happily serves as her father's hostess.  Into their lives comes crusading Senator Jonathan Cartwright (Adolphe Menjou) and his wife (Myrna Loy).  He has decided that Paris has a terrible influence on their naive servicemen, and wants to ban it as a destination for the military.  The Ambassador, of course, needs to prevent this - the soldiers are a huge source of income for the nation still recovering from the war, and he does not share the conservative senator's fears.  Thus, Joan enters into a bet that she will woo a soldier (John Forsythe), and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that American soldiers are gentlemen.

This is not a great movie, but it has its moments.  The scene in which Myrna Loy tries to convince John Forsythe that Olivia is actually a good girl (he has come to believe that she is the Senator's mistress) is hilarious, and Olivia doing her best French accent is delightful.  But the movie has one little problem - the romantic leads are just a tad too old for the subject matter.  Forsythe, who was 38 when the film was released, is far too mature to be so ignorant.  And Olivia, at 40 is just too adult to be mistaken for any kind of an innocent.  The other problem is the timing of the movie - why is Forsythe still in the armed services? Korea is three years over, and it is 10 years since the Second World War (which of course would have been the impact factor in France). Why are all these soldiers still in France? And why isn't Forsythe back in the states working as an engineer? Tis a puzzlement!

But if you have a chance, give it a look see. Just suspend you disbelief at the door, and let Myrna and Olivia whisk you away to a more innocent time.  In this scene, both ladies appear:


Next time, another comedy, but from a much earlier time.

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