Release year: 1939
Director: Tay Garnett
Screenwriter: Gene Towne, C. Graham Baker
Starring: Loretta Young, David Niven, Hugh Herbert, Billie Burke, C. Aubrey Smith, Broderick Crawford, Eve Arden
Ratings: Nominated for 1 Oscar: Best Original Score
It is love at first sight when Anita (Young) and the magician Tony aka The Great Arturo (Niven) meet and despite being engaged to the more solid and down-to-earth Don burns (Crawford) Anita follows her heart and marry Tony. But as it becomes more and more clear that they want two different things in life, Anita begins to doubt whether they marriage can stand the distance.
The incredible charming Niven (The Pink Panther, 1963) and sweet Young (The Bishop’s Wife, 1947) share a great chemistry that make their on-screen couple burn through the screen, a fact that makes this a both gripping and touching film. As The Great Arturo embarks on yet another death-defying stunt to prove his worth, we feel anxious with Anita and bite our nails along with her and when Anita doubts their love we feel with the sad-eyed Tony. The story is simple but with some surprises, especially considering the time and age it is from, while it unlike most movies of the genre deals with marriage after the wedding as opposed to the time leading up to the big day. The support cast is great with Smith (Rebecca, 1940) as a calm center in Anita’s life and Crawford (Born Yesterday, 1950) as the belittled fiancé but the movie relies heavily on the capable charming leads.
The arial stuntwork was performed by Paul Mantz, an air race and stunt pilot.
The film features footage from the 1939 New York World’s Fair, where the climax takes place.
The magician Paul LePaul was technical adviser on the movie and also had a cameo doing card tricks with Hugh Herbert’s character Benton.
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