Wednesday, July 19, 2017

De Havilland and Cagney Shine in Strawberry Blonde (1941)

Dame Olivia de Havilland's Hollywood career spanned from 1935-1988 and she appeared in 49 films. De Havilland is best known for The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Gone With The Wind (1939), and her award-winning performances in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949).
To honor this two-time Oscar winner on her one hundred one birthday this month I wanted to review one of her films.
In 1941, she made The Strawberry Blonde alongside veteran actors James Cagney, Rita Hayworth, and Jack Carson.

Set in 1890's New York, Strawberry Blonde tells the story of Biff Grimes (Cagney), a man who takes nothing from nobody because "that's the kind of hairpin [he is]" falls in love with beautiful, society girl, Virginia Brush (Hayworth). His dishonest friend, Hugo Barnstead (Carson) steals her away and marries her. Displeased about Hugo and Virginia's union,  Biff courts and marries Virginia's best friend, Amy Lind (de Havilland).

In the end Biff realizes the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence and he's the one that's blessed having married Amy. He's content with his life and loves his wife.

Strawberry Blonde showcases de Havilland's talent for comedy. The double date scene is one of the funniest parts in the film (i.e. de Havilland's winking at Cagney and "Exactly").

Being set at the turn of the century, Strawberry Blonde is an atypical screwball comedy during this era in Hollywood, but holds up well and still maintains a delight and charm about it 70 plus years later.

Fun Film Trivia:
Strawberry Blonde (1941) is sandwiched in between 2 remakes with the same title: One Sunday Afternoon (1933 & 1948).

Director Raoul Walsh considered Strawberry Blonde to be his most successful picture and his personal favorite of all his films.

My rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Some of the singing sequences slowed the film down a little, but you can easily fast-forward if that bothers you. Other than that I enjoyed the film as a whole and would recommend it. I appreciated that the film strove to present a moral about being content.