Monday, December 24, 2012

I Love Melvin (1953)

Seen: On my laptop, with youtube, here.

It's no secret that Singin' in the Rain is my favorite movie. And I've probably made it commonly known that Donald O'Connor was my first movie crush. So, when I found out the entirety of I Love Melvin, a musical starring O'Connor and Singin' costar Debbie Reynolds that's not on dvd, was on youtube, I was pretty damned excited. Admittedly I'm usually not a watching-movies-on-youtube person unless it's MST3K, just because the low quality gets to me, but I happily made an exception this time. Reynolds stars as Judy, a young stage actress and dancer who dreams of becoming a star, but is somewhat held back by her overprotective family. She meets apprentice photographer Melvin (O'Connor), who works for LOOK Magazine, and charms him (almost) instantly. To get close to her he begins a series of portraits of Judy, hoping he can get them into the magazine and fueling her dreams of fame, but his lack of pull at his job- as well as her father's disapproval- may keep either of them from moving forward.

Set in that magical 1950's musical world where there's rarely any conflict, everyone dresses well, and there never seem to be any people of color, I Love Melvin is a breezy, enthusiastic film that coasts on the likability of its leads. I was pretty into it at the start, finding the simple love story and cutesy musical numbers to be very enjoyable. When Donald O'Connor accidentally bit Debbie Reynolds while trying to kiss her, I designated it the sexiest movie ever. The earlier musical numbers are charming, from her over-the-top dream sequence in the beginning, to their impromptu living room duet. The standout number is the absolutely, disarmingly ridiculous "Football Ballet", in which Reynolds is thrown about the stage by a bunch of athlete-dancers as a human embodiment of the titular pigskin. I mean it's not cool that the woman is literally being objectified, but darn it I was impressed by the weird audacity of it all.

The film kinda slows down about halfway through, with a premise so thin it can't fulfill its 77 minutes and not enough clever dialogue or interesting songs to keep it entertaining. The pacing is all off and it takes this odd turn with like 10 minutes left, by which time I didn't particularly care about this half-assed love story anyway. Sorry, guys, but your movie is uninspired! 1950s musicals are often frivolous and silly, but enough of them are propelled forward by witty writing and memorable musical numbers for me to know when one is just a bit lazy. Like I said, O'Connor and Reynolds are adorable and extremely likable, but there's only so far their charm can take the rest of the film. Also the ethnocentric/racist comedic dance number that O'Connor does made me really sad. I was impressed with his roller-skating abilities though, it's just too bad an annoying child had to sing during that scene.


Pair This Movie With: Well the storyline is really similar to No Small Affair with Jon Cryer (in his first screen role) and rock n' roll Demi Moore. But personally I just wanted more musical Donald O'Connor, for which I'll always recommend Call Me Madam.