Wild Harvest (Paramount) revives the once profitable Quirt-Flagg* formula: two high-skilled bums carom around odd corners of the world, working at the same jobs, tomcatting after the same girls, fighting each other, and unable to do without each other. Wild Harvest adds something new to the formula: this time the heroes are migratory workers, involved in the robust job of wheat harvesting with combines. The harvesting job gives the audience something novel and vigorous to look at, and it also gives the players something better to do than talk and make faces at each other. But there is still too much talking and face making.
Alan Ladd, boss of the gang, can take women or leave them alone, and believes in leaving them alone when there is work to do. Robert Preston, the gang's mechanic, can't leave them alone. He causes so much trouble chasing girls, and bootlegging wheat for chasing-funds, that he would be fired if he weren't indispensable to mechanized harvesting.
The worst of the trouble revolves around Dorothy Lamour, who is marooned on a farm but can think of only one good use for hay. She points this good use out to Ladd, who spurns her advances. So she marries Preston in order to keep in touch with her quarry. Finally Ladd and Preston slug it out in a bar and find that they mean much more to each other than the disconcerted Miss Lamour does.
Wild Harvest was directed by Tay Garnett, who has a flair for directing men and melodramas (Bataan, Cross of Lorraine). Whenever his men are hard at work or at their more believable kinds of play, Director Garnett shows what a good movie this might have been. His harvesters' dance is a fine, forlorn scene, and he stages quite a hair-raising wheat fire and a particularly violent chase. But he seems to have realized that nothing could be done with the tense Lamour-Ladd relationship except to treat it as slightly ridiculous.
Singapore (Universal-International) had a well-publicized Manhattan opening at which the first 100 women to get to the box office* were awarded one string of pearls each. The pearls were synthetic. So was the picture.
The worst thing that can be said about Singapore is that it is a no worse than typical assembly-line job. A lot of technical competence, a certain amount of talent and a staggering amount of time and money have been marshaled into a quiet, polished frenzy about nothing whatever. The picture presents a forgivably languid Fred MacMurray as a pearl smuggler. He marries deep-chested Ava Gardner just in time to lose track of her when the Japanese take Singapore. After the war he comes back to look for her and for some pearls he hid in an electric fan. He and his contraband manage a relatively placid reunion, having to contend only with British law and with a crook (Thomas Gomez).