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The Lady Takes a Sailor

The Lady Takes a Sailor(1949)

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teaser The Lady Takes a Sailor (1949)

Jane Wyman won a much-deserved Best Actress Oscar for Johnny Belinda (1948). Despite the fact that she would now receive star billing, Warner Bros. still had difficulty finding worthy roles for her. Formerly titled 'The Octopus and Miss Smith', the oddball romantic comedy The Lady Takes a Sailor hides a strong subtext about the problems women face as working professionals. Michael Curtiz directs for producer Harry Kurnitz, who spent most of his career as a top writer on comedies and suspense thrillers. The story stretches the definition of far-fetched comedy. Consumer research executive Jennifer Smith (Jane Wyman) loses her job over a credibility issue - as a consumer advocate she's expected to be entirely candid and truthful. When she's found unconscious on a beach after a storm, the authorities don't believe her story of encountering a strange undersea tractor. They also don't believe Jennifer's tale of meeting its driver, who identified himself as Davey Jones, a marine biologist - no such man can be found. Discredited and humiliated, she tries to find her missing photos of the aquatic tractor, and locate the mystery rescuer, who apparently drugged her to allow him to slip away. A detective (Tom Tully) proves a bumbling idiot, and the safecracker Jennifer hires can't get into a Sardine can. She undergoes some serious comic indignities, such as being hung by her heels, and having her face pushed down in the mud. People are doused with paint and stuck with pitchforks. Poor Jennifer's strained attempts to clear her name finally pay off when her mystery man is revealed to be Bill Craig (Dennis Morgan), a marine engineer in charge of the top secret new invention. National security forced him to ruin her reputation. Extra fun is provided by Eve Arden's wisecracking, boyfriend-challenged assistant. Former Xavier Cugat vocalist Lina Romay sings a song in a nightclub, and Max Steiner provides the raucous music score. Not heralded as a great comedy, The Lady Takes a Sailor has its moments, as when a chuckling, insulting William Frawley presents the furious Jennifer with an award - from The Liar's Club.

By Glenn Erickson

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