Saturday, January 9, 2010
The Honeymoon Machine (1961)
Directed by Richard Thorpe. This relatively early Steve McQueen outing is very different for him, a romantic screwball comedy that looks to be based on a play, judging from the few sets used and the simple staging. Well over half of it takes place in one hotel room.
Here’s the basic plot; a trio of Navy buddies offshore in Venice are using a computer on-board their ship to calculate spins of a roulette wheel in a casino in the hotel. Someone on the ship uses Morse code to signal the calculation, they place the bet and – presto! – everybody wins. They simply have to avoid being seen in the casino, where they are not allowed, and are hiding the scheme from the girls they are dating in order to make the movie hilarious.
This kind of works, even though Steve McQueen is not really the Cary Grant-type, which is what the dialog style here is definitely going for, in that rapid-fire, wiseacre but sexy “His Girl Friday”/”Bringing Up Baby” kind of way. Maybe I give him too much of a pass because I like Steve McQueen. His girl here is Brigid Bazlen, who doesn’t have too much to do here, though Paula Prentiss does, who’s much better and looks awesome, and Jim Hutton is here too and he’s good, as well as Jack Weston, who plays a drunk and good God it doesn’t get much better than that.
Hard to find but recommended.