Classic Film Guide

Here Comes the Groom (1951) - full review!

Produced & directed by Frank Capra, one of his last films (he didn't direct another film, his next to last, until 1959), with a story by his frequent collaborator Robert Riskin, and Liam O'Brien, this slightly above average musical (late screwball) comedy features Bing Crosby in the title role. Crosby, who's always ready with a song to smooth over any situation, plays the kind of easy going, unflappable character that marked his career. Jane Wyman, Alexis Smith, Franchot Tone, James Barton, Robert Keith, and Connie Gilchrist, among others, round out the cast. The Hoagy Carmichael-Johnny Mercer song "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" won an Academy Award; Riskin and O'Brien also received a nomination for their Motion Picture Story. This Oscar winning song is sung throughout, including during one of the film's several well choreographed numbers (another with uncredited Louis Armstrong, Phil Harris, and Dorothy Lamour) featuring Crosby & Wyman!

Boston foreign correspondent Pete Garvey (Crosby) has spent the last three years in Paris helping to find homes for war orphans. His ring-less "fiancée" Emmadel Jones (Wyman) and newspaper editor George Degnan (Keith) are impatient for his return. Bobby (Jacques Gencel) & Suzi (Beverly Washburn), two of the orphans, have found their way into Pete's heart and he decides to adopt them. This takes time, which delays his return home. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, an exasperated Emmadel, who's been employed as the secretary to real estate mogul Wilbur Stanley (Tone) for the past two years, accepts her boss's proposal of marriage. George's paper has dubbed Emmadel "Cinderella Jones". However, the stipulation on Pete's adoption of Bobby & Suzi states that he must have a wife within 5 days of his arrival in Boston with the orphans. So, Pete goes straight to Emmadel’s where he's warmly greeted by her somewhat drunken, and former Navy captain father William ‘Pa’ Jones (Barton), and is not so well received by her Ma (Gilchrist), who foresees Pete messing up her daughter's engagement to the $40 million man. Sure enough, Pete conspires to stop the wedding, which is conveniently scheduled the same day as his deadline, in part by appealing to Emmadel’s maternal instincts towards the orphans, who are not only cute, but have adopted some of Pete's mannerisms.

Though you can probably figure out how the story will end, it's the "getting there" that satisfies, at least most of the time. Pete meets Wilbur, to whom he's open about his intentions (e.g. that he plans to marry Emmadel himself), and the two make a gentleman's agreement - "may the best man win". Wilbur, confident of his position, even allows Pete to move in to the Stanley estate guest house in the days immediately preceding the wedding. This delights Emmadel’s Pa, but infuriates her and her mistrusting Ma. Smith plays Wilbur's prim & proper fourth cousin Winifred Stanley, who's always had a crush on him. Pete, who senses this, plays a Pygmalion-like role, with George's assistance, to help Winifred loosen up in order to appear more attractive to her cousin Wilbur. A lot of slapstick humor, only some of which is funny, follows. If it weren't for the overtly contrived (indeed, incredible) ending, I'd probably rate this as an above average comedy.

H.B. Warner, Nicholas Joy, Ian Wolfe, and Adeline De Walt Reynolds (uncredited) play other members of the Stanley family; Irving Bacon plays their butler. Charles Halton appears, as an immigration official, and so does Charles Lane - both are uncredited.

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