Monday, October 4, 2010

Bloomer Girl Olivia

The Strawberry Blonde from 1941 is one of those wonderful movies that I think people just don't know about.  Here our Ms. de Havilland plays Amy Lind, a gutsy nurse whose best friend is Virginia Brush (Rita Hayworth), the titular Strawberry Blonde.  Olivia is just a delight as she attempts to shock James Cagney (as T.L. "Biff" Grimes) with her suffragette ideas and outspoken manners.  One of my favorite scenes is Virginia, laying out her plan to entice Biff and Hugo Barnstead (played as a complete slime by Jack Carson) over, without looking forward.  "That will show them we're good girls and they can't trifle with us" asserts Virginia. "What did we come for if not to be trifled with?" questions Amy with some indigence.  Here is part of that scene:

It is rather a shame that Olivia and James Cagney did not get to do more pictures together. They are a quite delightful pair.  And again, combined with the stellar character actors that inhabit this movie, this movie is a lot of fun.  Rita Hayworth, in what is essentially a supporting part, is excellent as the at first naive, and later hard-as-nails Virginia.  Watch her in the final scene.  Her very voice will make you cringe.  George Tobias as Nick, Biff's best friend Nick, is adorable.  And then there are the always wonderful Alan Hale (as Biff's father) and Una O'Connor (as a next door neighbor to Mr. Grimes).  Oh, let's not leave out George Reeves as the obnoxious college man who lives next door to Biff and Amy.

The movie is told in flashback, a technique that works beautifully here, as we see the growth of Biff and Amy.  We know something really awful has happened to them, but not what or why.  We know that Biff has reached a crossroad, but not how he will deal with it.  The ending is satisfying, and we come to love these two people, who discover their love for each other though adversity and conflict. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and try to catch it the next time it is on.  I think you will like it.

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