Newly released from 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives are two of the most iconic films by director Walter Lang ever to come to the silver screen with “Coney Island” and “Sitting Pretty.”
First, director Lang brings the story of con man Eddie Johnson (George Montgomery) who returns to Coney Island. Meeting up with long time frenemy Joe Rocco (Cesar Romero), Eddie wants what he believes is his, that being a piece of the club.
What catches his attention quickly is songstress Kate Farley (Betty Grable) who is larger than life. The problem is Joe sees Kate as his and isn’t about to let Eddie get in the way of the plans he has for her success.
As Kate and Eddie get to know one another they start to fall in love. Planning to get married, someone in their group is going out of their way to sabotage it all leaving Kate heartbroken and Eddie stone cold confused.
But Coney Island might have other plans!
Grable as Kate is loud, boisterous, flashy and knows how to belt out a song. I love every bit of her character because behind it all is a woman in love and Grable knows how to make it all come together.
Montgomery as Eddie is a smooth and fast talking hustler who starts out wanting to best his frenemy but ends up having his heart handed to him. This actor is smooth and darn near as handsome as he wants to be. Oh the days when actors such as Montgomery existed to give a character every chance to be the best in a bad boy.
Romero as Joe isn’t an innocent as he’d like everyone to believe. Going up against Montgomery’s character it quickly becomes who is really the bad boy and who is the misunderstood good guy.
I loved the costuming, the music, characters and the 1940’s era that this film was made in. There is a joy in knowing that another generation will have the opportunity to see what true entertainment was like and wish it could be again.
The second film “Sitting Pretty” tells the story of Tacey (Maureen O’Hara) and Harry (Robert Young), a couple raising a very rambunctious family and in need of a live-in babysitter.
Tacey places an advertisement in the paper and receives a response from someone she believes is a perfect fit. When Harry goes to the train station to pick the new sitter up, it is Tacey who ends up surprised when a knock on her door introduces her to Mr. Lynn Belvedere (Clifton Webb) – the new live-in sitter.
Shocked at her obvious mistake, Harry returns home and a decision is made to give Mr. Belvedere a try. Within a matter of days Belvedere makes his rules known to the young boys’ of the King home and they respond positively.
It is Harry’s employer who doesn’t seem all that pleased with the King family having Mr. Belvedere around. Making matters even more strained is when a book is released about the goings on in the small town. Through it all, Mr. Belvedere keeps his cool when everyone else seems to be losing their minds!
Young as Harry King is an easy going family man and attorney who really wants a practice of his own. The best part about Young’s portrayal is the fantastic humor and chemistry with co-stars O’Hara and Webb.
O’Hara as Tacey is a wife with a hilarious sense of humor and a mother who has her hands full. She finds a friendship with Mr. Belvedere that is charming and flows so amazingly well between them. The scene where they dance together is one of my favorites. O’Hara has always been one of my favorite actresses and her performance in “Sitting Pretty” clearly shows why.
Webb as Belvedere is stunning with his dry wit, firm stance and no-nonsense dealings with the family and neighborhood. I just love his outlook on everything along with the sense that this character sees the world just a little less complicated than the rest of us.
I spent more time laughing at this film because of how extremely excellent it is in story, characters as well as rich with laughs and simple comedy. Once again director Lang gives it to us straight with no gimmicks or effects but instead pure performance.
There is no need for a TUBS OF POPCORN rating for these films because they are priceless. These are story’s that fun to follow and easy to fall into. It was actually a shame when they ended because I loved everything about “Coney Island” and “Sitting Pretty”.
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These are both films to cuddle up with or invite the whole family to enjoy because in the end it is love and laughs bring us all together.