Cinema: The New Pictures, Oct. 11, 1948

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When offers came, he demanded to see scripts. M-G-M showed him a few, but nothing that interested him. He made a test for another producer, who greedily insisted on a long-term contract, then threatened to have Clift blackballed for refusing to sign.

Clift recently finished his third picture, William Wyler's The Heiress. Now he is committed to Liberty Films, a Paramount subsidiary, for three more (which must be directed by Wyler, Frank Capra or George Stevens). Meanwhile, he is free to accept offers from Broadway, where he is also in great demand. One offer is for Lillian Hellman's forthcoming dramatization of the best-selling The Naked and the Dead. Clift doesn't know whether he'll do it : he hasn't seen the script yet.

Isn't It Romantic? (Paramount) leans heavily, for inspiration, on such Broadway musicomedies as Oklahoma! and Carousel. The idea is to give the wholesome nostalgias of small-town U.S. life a coat of sophisticated varnish and, if possible, a new lungful of life. As it turns out, the picture smells more of varnish than of fresh air.

The story doesn't greatly matter: a bluffing old Confederate veteran (capably hammed by Roland Culver) is deceived into fronting for an itinerant salesman (Patric Knowles) of wildcat oil shares. The wildcat is also a tomcat, and Veronica Lake, the prettiest of the colonel's three daughters, falls for him. The second daughter (Oklahoma's Mary Hatcher) sings a good deal, and the youngest (Mona Freeman) is on hand with wisecracks. There is also a cook (Pearl Bailey), and a comic swain (Billy De Wolfe).

More importantly for cinemusical purposes, there are plenty of occasions for songs and production numbers, cued in more or less naturally. 'Boys & girls bicycle to a picnic under leafy shade and sing about it en route; Billy De Wolfe sings At the Nickelodeon; Pearl Bailey clears away dishes or flicks a dust rag at a bannister while she chaws out a couple of songs.

The trouble is that in its Tarkington-esque aspects, the show is completely lacking in genuine remembrance, ease and spontaneity. The cyclists are pretty to look at, but as artificially gay in spirit as so many madrigal singers. As a Midwestern servant of the early 1900s, Pearl Bailey is about as believable as Salvador Dali's autobiography, but she does whatever she does with such queenly conviction and emphasis that she is by all odds the best thing in the show.

Julia Misbehaves (M-G-M). During the amatory hurly-burly of World War I, Julia (Greer Garson), a hoy-de-hoyden of London's music halls, marries a landed gent (Walter Pidgeon). They break up before long and, for their child's sake, Julia nobly awards the father 100% custody. The years go by, and Julia, now a middle-aging tramp, gets an invitation to her daughter's posh wedding.

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