Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ann's Apples

Eve Knew Her Apples (1945) tells the story of radio singer Eve Porter (Ann Miller).  Eve's managers have been pushing her hard; she's tired and she has finally put her foot down, demanding a three month vacation.  Her radio sponsor is willing; her managers (Steve and George) are not, and her fiance Walter W. Walters II (played by John Eldredge) is a weak jerk who agrees with the managers.  So, when Steve and George  follow her to her vacation spot, and announce she'll need to leave immediately, to star in a new film.  Eve bolts, hides in a car, and next thing you know she is on a road trip with reporter Ward Williams (William Wright) who thinks she is the Singing Murderess (and hopes to get a story and the reward).

As it happens, the film is a musical remake of It Happened One Night.  Two episodes are taken word-for-word from the original: a scene in which a rather obnoxious man wants to turn Eve in for the reward, and Ward convinces him that Ward is a mobster who's kidnapped Eve; and a very late scene in which Ward goes to one of Eve's managers for reimbursement for the trip.  Like most films in which the original is so well known and loved, it is hard to watch it and appreciate it in a vacuum.  You end up comparing it to the original, and of course, the remake suffers by comparison.  But, with an 11 year gap between the two pictures, it is unlikely that the average viewer made that fatal comparison. 
It's worth noting that Ann Miller dances not ONE step in the film.  Her lovely singing voice is used to good advantage, but her legs are not (we don't even have the famous hitchhiking scene.  Perhaps it was felt that was TOO familiar).  She's quite good as an actress, and her Eve is endearing.  It's actually rather nice to see Ms. Miller as purely an actress, rather than as a expert dancer (which she was - and gloriously so).  

Though we had seen William Wright before (he played Scott in A Night to Remember), we didn't remember him. He's quite funny as Ward, but it's hard to not compare him to Clark Gable, and frankly, he is no Gable. He began his film career in 1936, and often worked in small roles, with larger roles coming during the war years. He died in 1949, age 38, of cancer.  When he was cast in this film, he had already done three films with Miller; in two of them he was her leading man.  This TCM article provides more detail on Wright and Ann Miller. 
A quick note on John Eldredge.  As children who grew up on The Adventures of Superman, it was enjoyable to see this actor who was an occasional guest star (as a villain).  Another actor with a long supporting career, he was a handsome man who was not quite leading man material.  He easily segued into television, though his career there was not long - he died in 1961 of a heart attack.

Since we can't show you the wonder Ms. Miller dancing, we'll leave you with her singing "I'll Remember April".  She has a lovely voice, and it's a nice way to say goodbye to this little film.

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