Sunday 3 December 2017

Movie Review: The Bride Goes Wild (1948)

An unbalanced romantic comedy, The Bride Goes Wild has no idea what it is trying to be and collapses in an inept heap.

Prim and proper schoolteacher Martha Terryton (June Allyson) wins a competition to be the illustrator for the latest children's book by celebrated author "Uncle Bumps", the pen name of Greg Rawlings (Van Johnson). Publisher McGrath (Hume Cronyn) knows that contrary to his reputation, Greg is a womanizing borderline alcoholic, still recovering from a long-ago failed relationship with Tillie (Arlene Dahl).

When Greg clumsily attempts to seduce Martha and plies her with alcohol, McGrath fears a scandal, and concocts a plot to elicit sympathy for Greg by creating a fake sob-story about the author as a single dad raising an unruly child. Young freckled kid Danny (Butch Jenkins) is plucked from an orphanage and asked to play the role of Greg's out-of-control son. Martha starts to fall for Greg, but the reappearance of Tillie complicates matters.

The film is as unstable as the synopsis suggests. The third teaming of Allyson and Johnson is devoid of charisma and chemistry, and frequently veers into obnoxious territory. The character of Greg Rawlings is a singularly irritating predator, and somehow writer Albert Beich doubles down on the loathsome behaviour by contriving the ludicrous introduction of the shin-kicking Danny.

Other than perpetuating the mythology that every bad man just needs a good woman to achieve a remarkable reformation, why a wholesome schoolteacher like Martha would ever fall for a lech like Greg is only explained in the minds of Beich and director Norman Taurog. Matters are made worse when Tillie reappears, clearly a better match for Greg, but yet somehow the romance between Greg and Martha has to blossom among the thorny weeds of bad behaviour.

The Bride Goes Wild (the title has nothing to do with the events in the film) ends with ants overrunning a wedding and then stunningly awful and prolonged scenes of hordes of kids pretending to be Indians. Almost bad enough to be good due to the utter lack of cohesion, the film just settles for a putrid type of awful.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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