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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dearest Enemy (1955)

In 1776, a troop of British soldiers lead by General Howe (Cyril Ritchard) lands in the bay near the home of a widow (Cornelia Otis Skinner) who uses her kitchen to make ammunition for the American troops. An American soldier (Evan Wright) asks the widow's niece (Anne Jeffreys) to keep the British troops there as long as they can and thus giving advantage to General Washington's troops. Based on the 1925 Broadway musical by Rodgers & Hart which is rarely performed today and one can see why. The play seems more like a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta than a Rodgers & Hart musical. The songs simply aren't on the same level as their scores to PAL JOEY or BABES IN ARMS. There's also a disturbing element in the plot. Namely, collaboration between American women and enemy British soldiers which the musical takes lightly. I'm all for love but is this plot line any different than if it had been a musical comedy about Frenchwomen collaborating with German soldiers during WWII? There is one amusing scene where the women torture a starving British soldier by tempting him with food. Anne Jeffreys, who has the best singing voice among the four leads, is very good. Neil Simon co-adapted the musical for live TV which is directed by Max Lieberman. With Robert Sterling as the British soldier wooing Jeffreys.

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