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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Higher And Higher (1943)

After a millionaire (Leon Errol) goes broke, his servants concoct a plan to foist a maid (Michele Morgan) as his heiress daughter in order to catch a rich husband and save him from bankruptcy. Marginally based on the flop Rodgers & Hart 1940 musical but substantially rewritten with new songs by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson. Directed by Tim Whelan (THIEF OF BAGDAD), it's a rather clumsy affair. Everyone tries so hard to be wacky and bubbly but the desperation is off putting. The songs are actually quite good and includes two standards A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening and the Oscar nominated I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night. But who thought it was a good idea to cast Michele Morgan in a Jean Arthur role? I adore Morgan but she's not a comedienne and she's not a singer (her vocals are dubbed) and I felt bad for her, adrift without a lifeline. Hollywood has never done well by its French imports and like Danielle Darrieux before her, she was ill used (though to be fair, at least Simone Simon returned to France with CAT PEOPLE and DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER on her resume). With Frank Sinatra (a bright spot), Barbara Hale, Jack Haley, Mel Torme, Mary Wickes, Dooley Wilson, Elisabeth Risdon and in a rare film role, Victor Borge.

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