Till the End of Time (RKO Radio) is a sweetened-up psychiatric case history of four war-battered young people. A glossy piece of entertainment, the picture neglects to answer all the urgent questions it poses.
To an introspective young war widow and three jittery ex-marines, the humdrum postwar world looks pretty hopeless. Dorothy McGuire cannot put aside the dead romantic daydreams that crashed over Europe with her flyer husband. Ex-Pugilist Bill Williams bitterly resents his new artificial legs. Robert Mitchum takes to drink, hoping to forget the painful silver plate in his head. Guy Madison, home from the Pacific with a whole skin, is too restless to stomach the unexciting routine of a civilian job.
Up to a point, the emotional maladjustments of this unhappy quartet are pictured with realism and honesty. But an honest solution to all their complex problems would certainly have endangered the film's entertainment possibilities. Producer Dore Schary took no such risk. After a bang-up barroom brawl and an exchange of neat, safe platitudes, everything at the fade-out is suddenly just dandy for everybody.
Most remarkable feature of Till the End of Time: the difficult neuroses-threatened male lead, which might well have frightened a veteran actor, was thrust on a blond, dark-browed, sensationally handsome young man whose entire previous acting experience consisted of one movie bit part. Guy Madison, 24, ex-telephone lineman, was allowed a seven-day leave from the Navy in 1944 to speak a few lines in a David O. Selznick production. The volume of ecstatic bobby-sox fan mail (some 62,000 letters, many addressed simply to The Cute Sailor in Since You Went Away) was staggering.
Ever conscious of acting skill, Hollywood executives are even more sensitive to what the public wants. Female moviegoers in sizable numbers plainly wanted Guy Madison. For his second film appearance, nothing short of full stardom was thinkable.
Easy to Wed (MGM) is polished and mounted with all the technical wizardry and great expense that M-G-M lavishes on its most precious jewels. The fact that this film is basically a blob of paste will not keep it from making its rich manufacturers considerably richer. The unbeatable ingredients: lively music, Technicolor, fine feathers, romance, colossal production numbers, slapstick, four big, sure-fire stars.
Pink-haired Van Johnson, cashing in on his early experience as a Broadway chorus boy, amazes his public by singing and dancing. As romantic lead comedian, Van also makes love and makes like a wild duck. Esther Williams shows off her dramatic talents in elaborate gowns and her more notable gifts in a plain bathing suit. Competing for laughs, Keenan Wynn and Lucille Ball work so hard they seem bent on destroying themselves.
Adapted from a 1936 movie called Libeled Lady (starring Jean Harlow), the complicated plot of Easy to Wed is oddly obtrusive for a musical. Van Johnson, whose millions of avid fans were first won by his freckle-nosed, boyish charm, is woefully miscast as a professional wolf who makes a living by compromising ladies. Only Comedienne Lucille Ball, a brash, bubbling extravert who is frequently used to bolster up badly contrived Hollywood farces, remains unfazed and funny through it all.