Our recent tribute screenings this past July to the talented triple-threat Andrew L. Stone were so well-received and talked about, we decided to keep the celebration going. So on August 17th & 18th, we present two more very hard-to-see comedies from this versatile independent artist!
1947’s FUN ON A WEEKEND brings together two penniless Palm Beach tourists, Pete (Eddie Bracken) and Nancy (Priscilla Lane), who decide to rub their nickels together by posing as a wealthy married couple, and see their fortunes turn on a dime as their ruse carries them up the society register. But fate may offer them no quarter when they have to decide whether they care more for the dollar, or each other. Will they cash in, or check out? At the time of its release, writer/director Stone called it his most audacious film to date.
It’s perfectly understandable if you get a Preston Sturges vibe here, from the story’s wild comic turns, its Palm Beach setting, and its casting of Bracken, who stood out in Sturges’ THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK and HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO. And co-star Priscilla Lane’s presence will certainly make you think back to her leading role as the puzzled fiancée of Cary Grant in Frank Capra’s film adaptation of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, though she gets more directly in the action here. This would be her next-to-last film appearance before happily retiring to raise family for the remainder of her long life.
Great faces in the supporting cast include Tom Conway, who played rakish underworld crimestopper The Falcon in ten movies; Arthur Treacher, who danced with Shirley Temple in four films and, yes, lent his name to that delicious fish-and-chips franchise; and Bill Benedict, who appeared in multiple East Side Kids and Bowery Boys comedies. And if you don’t quite recognize Allen Jenkins’ face, you may recognize his voice from the Hanna-Barbera universe as Officer Dibble, the constant nemesis to Top Cat and his gang of felonious felines.
Things are a little more traditional, albeit loose, in SENSATIONS OF 1945, from 1944, as a rivalry between Broadway publicists (played by Eleanor Powell and Dennis O’Keefe) provides a convenient structure in which to present legendary singers, dancers, and other stars of the day showcasing their standout gifts. And by the time these bickering barkers put all these talents before the public, maybe they just might find themselves soft on each other.
SENSATIONS features two dance numbers with Powell, including a beautifully gaudy sequence where she cavorts inside a pinball machine, two songs from “Red Hot Mama” Sophie Tucker, the fiery Cab Calloway, the cool Woody Herman, and the last film appearance of the great W.C. Fields. And O’Keefe, previously seen on our screen last month as the ever-thwarted bridegroom in HI DIDDLE DIDDLE, is back for more Stone gags.
The story for SENSATIONS was created by Frederick J. Jackson, who had a large hand in our previous Stone combo of HI DIDDLE DIDDLE and THE BACHELOR’S DAUGHTERS, and the screenplay is credited to playwright Dorothy Bennett, who would later script the 1947 Philip Marlowe mystery THE BRASHER DOUBLOON, directed by John Brahm.
Much like last month’s Stone comedies, original elements for both these films have been missing or are considered outright lost. Nor have these been made available in any licensed, sanctioned home video releases. Opportunities to see these films at all, especially with an audience, do not come easy. So don’t pass up this screening. We think you’ll agree this evening will be a Stone gas!