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r rated, four moon iconColumbia Tri-Star (DVD), ASIN 6305416192
The actors in this film lend a new meaning to the term "fast-talkers." Picture Cary Grant as the man Rosalind Russell left behind -- and there hangs the plot in a nutshell. The audience knows from the beginning that no one could forget this man-about-town. The question remains how the lady will pry a new deal from a boss with no concept of time off or straightforward bargaining, either. Her chance at a future depends on beating him at his own game -- a combination of wheeler-dealer and spin-the-bottle.

DVD: his girl friday Romance thrives when the underling drags along a competitor for her hand. However, Grant doesn't even blink when Russell shows up wearing a rock as big as the Hope Diamond. Following a marriage in which he clearly called all the shots, she returns to tip the balance in her favor -- if she can leverage a divorce and new engagement into a position that leaves her human. Choice 1: Marriage to the bargaining chip. Choice 2: Re-Marriage to her editor, who never stops upping the ante.

As the chip-off-a-new-block, Ralph Bellamy creates a lovable schlemiel. Contrary to his famous roles in Rosemary's Baby and Sunrise at Campobello, he flawlessly portrays real ingenuousness here. A total innocent, he explains the attractions of Albany, New York, as his insurance prospecting ground. With no sense of irony, he recommends this means for taking care of people "after they are dead -- when it really counts." Movie fans will feast on such lines, and those delivered by the other stars of this tour de farce.

Clearly, in the game of life, Grant's character shares the gifts of this consummate comedic actor: sophisticated grace, witty repartee and a sure sense of when to carry an umbrella. The poor fiancÚ might as well be wrestling with Spiderman! Because we can't root against Grant, though, we find ourselves as conflicted as his poor ex-wife, whose heart dragged her out of his reach for six months but cannot bear to stay at a safe distance. See this film as the ultimate love affair with a bad guy, who would be perfect if only -- if only he could tell the truth, possessed a conscience, and did not hire "Fridays," meaning slaves.

Sound familiar? Grant knows all the lady's hot buttons -- jealousy and pride in particular. The deadliest temptation in the midst of this romantic tempest, though, never lies where it appears to be. As much as she can resist him -- his ego makes that easy, good looks and all -- journalism proves a much stronger bond than lust or nostalgia. Where the breaking story leads, the two must follow. As the audience, then, we ride along, as dependent as hero and heroine on plot alone, to resolve romance. When did the news business become America's true love story? Released in 1940, this comedy captures the essence of the appeal like no other movie!

Margaret Curtis

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