Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Julia Misbehaves (1948) "Julia se porta mal"

 Director: Jack Conway
Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Cesar Romero, Lucile Watson

 For their first film after World War II Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon were teamed for the fifth time in Julia Misbehaves. It is the story of an estranged married couple who meet for the first time in years for their daughter's wedding. From that meeting a whole lot changes in everyone's lives. Garson and Pidgeon did such classics as Blossoms In The Dust, Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie and Mrs. Parkington. Julia Misbehaves while funny is just not in their league. It seems that Pidgeon in a moment of weakness married showgirl Greer Garson and they never quite divorced, but his harridan of a mother Lucille Watson did her best to split them up and she succeeded admirably. Watson wanted to present her granddaughter who grows up to be Elizabeth Taylor in proper society and she feels Greer's background is not fit.  But now that she's getting married Taylor wants her mother at her wedding and when Garson comes she and Taylor hit it off. And Pidgeon is also rekindling some long burned out flames.  However one problem Greer has is that she's kindled a flame or two in acrobat Cesar Romero. The best scenes in Julia Misbehaves involve Greer doing some singing very much like she did in Random Harvest and also a hilarious sequence with Romero's acrobatic family. Cesar Romero was a good and distinguished looking man, but he never sported a set of muscles as he's shown here. You never see him closeup during the acrobatic scenes and when he's dressed the padding in his shoulders is terribly obvious. Mary Boland plays his mother and she's her usual confused self. According to the Citadel series film book The Films Of Elizabeth Taylor, MGM was very concerned about Greer Garson after having come off two films that were not anything close to her work in the films I cited above. Adventure with Clark Gable did not ignite demand for a new screen team and Desire Me was one of the worst films MGM did during the Forties, maybe the worst in Garson's career. So they put her back with Walter Pidgeon and also deliberately cast an up and coming Elizabeth Taylor as the daughter to help boost box office.  Peter Lawford appears opposite Taylor, but he's not the guy she's going to marry at that wedding she invites Garson to. Nevertheless he's a lot better than the society drip Watson has picked out for her. Julia Misbehaves is a pleasant enough film, but hardly up to the standards set by Garson and Pidgeon. Nor is it a great film for Elizabeth Taylor. But for fans of all three, they should be satisfied.

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