Golden Earrings (Paramount) must have been intended as quite a novelty. Audiences were to thrill to the spectacle of a Dietrich Without Glamor: her famous legs lost in gypsy petticoats, her looks in gypsy greasepaint, her trick accent reduced to gypsy gutturals barely distinguishable from stock-company wigwam banter.
The idea turns out to be neither novel nor bright. All that Marlene Dietrich could possibly prove in such a role is her competence as a comedienne, which she has already repeatedly proved, with much better material. The deliberate liquidation of all her other assets seems as pound foolish as it would be to cast Garbo as Topsy.
The general whimsicality of the picture is weary but Miss Dietrich does what she can with the laborious charade. She helps embarrassed Ray Milland, a fugitive Englishman, across several reels of "comedy drama" in wartime Germany, and conveys the idea that gypsies enjoy wild free lives and wild free loves.
The Voice of the Turtle (Warner) presented Hollywood with a Problem which had to be licked with the customary false promises. On the stage, the play owes much of its success to its graceful, believable illustration of how a lonely sergeant and a lonely nice-girl go to bed together. On the screen the young people spend most of their time gracelessly, unbelievably showing how careful they are to avoid just that. The movie is most coyly prurient where the play was most pleasantly candid.
If this exchange of tattle for titillation were the whole truth, only half the battle need be lost; for Playwright John van Druten's soldier is an engaging character and his girl is rather an original one. But since these characters have been deprived of their chief motives, their honesty, and their essential innocence, they are also deprived of most of their reality and all their charm.
Playwright Van Druten, who wrote the movie adaptation, may have tried hard to keep his tongue in his cheek, but it's a safe bet that he also ground it between his molars. Ronald Reagan, none too shrewdly cast, plays, of necessity, as if he were trying to tone down an off-color joke for a child of eight. Eleanor Parker's imitation of Margaret Sullavan, the Broadway original, is painfully scrupulous, from the hair on out. But it is hard to believe that Sergeant Reagan could long endure the retarded maiden she portrays, much less find her cute. However, it is likely that millions of people will think her adorable and will titter delightedly over all the broken-field-running among the beds.
Where There's Life (Paramount) there is, naturally, Bob Hope. This movie has quite a lot of Hope, in fact, but rather less life than his admirers have reason to hope for. Bob is a disc jockey for dog food (with appropriate yips) who is sought out as the morganatic heir to a Graustarkian throne. Signe Hasso, the kingdom's military genius despite her sex, is trying to get him crowned; an assortment of statesmanlike heavies (George Zucco, et al.) are trying to get him conked; his fiancée, and her six policemen brothers are trying to get him to his wedding.
Most of this nonsense goes on in & around Manhattan, with the usual photo-finish race between Hope's cowardice and his concupiscence. It passes the time painlessly enough, though very little of it is quite as funny as Bob's early moments as a disc jockey.