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The Major and the Minor

USA 1942
produced by
Arthur Hornblow jr for Paramount
directed by Billy Wilder
starring Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson, Robert Benchley, Diana Lynn, Edward Fielding, Frankie Thomas, Raymond Roe, Charles Smith, Larry Nunn, Billy Dawson, Lela E. Rogers, Aldrich Bowker, Boyd Irwin, Byron Shores, Richard Fiske, Norma Varden, Gretl Dupont
screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, based on a play by Edward Childs Carpenter and a story by Fanny Kilbourne, music by Robert Emmett Dolan

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Fed up of not getting anywhere in New York professionally, Susan (Ginger Rogers) decides to skip town and return to her mother's (Lela E. Rogers) somewhere in rural Iowa - only to realise at the train station she hasn't even got enough money for the ticket home. So she dresses up as a 12 year old girl to get reduced fare - but on the train the conductors get wise of her all to quickly, so she hides away in what she thinks is an empty compartment ... only to find out it's occupied by Major Kirby (Ray Milland), a good looking and good natured army man en route to the military school where he's to teach and re-unite with his fiancee Pamela (Rita Johnson). And he falls for Susan's 12-year-old routine hook line and sinker, while she falls for him pretty much immediately and plans on dropping the pretense as soon as possible. But then their train gets stuck, and Pamela comes to pick him up, and when she finds Kirby in a compartment with Susan, she has to pretend to be 12 a little longer - and makes a good job of it, as Pamela invites her to stay at her place until the rails to Iowa are free again. Soon enough all the young students at the school fall for Susan, and it's only Pamela's sister Lucy (Diana Lynn), who actually is 12, who sees Susan's all grown up. And that fits perfectly with her plans, as she thinks her sister Pamela is holding Kirby back, as he'd rather go overseas to be in place should the US enter World War II, but she conspires to keep him teaching instead of getting ready for war. And Lucy figures Susan is just the person who can help her. So Susan has a lots on her hands, arranging for Kirby to be sent overseas while keeping her own feelings for him in check as well as warding off a platoon of love-hungry cadets while keeping up her pretense to be pre-teen ... and for a time she's even successful at it - but then Pamela finds out her true identity and can figure out her true motives, and she's not one to go down without a fight ...

 

Only Billy Wilder's second film as a director and his first in the USA, The Major and the Minor already shows him at the top of his game: The film's swiftly and elegantly directed, is full of alusions, also of a sexual nature, without ever coming across as blunt of vulgar, keeps the thing light-hearted and wonderfully balances out romance and comedy. And he keeps the pace swift enough that one only notices minor leaps of reason in hindsight. And add to that a top-notch cast led by a brilliant Ginger Rogers, and you've got yourself a gem from "good old Hollywood", and one you certainly won't regret watching.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD