Saturday, November 11, 2017

"No, No, Nanette" (1940) -- Initial Thoughts


I am really not sure what to think of this movie.  On the one hand, it's perky and quirky.  On the other hand, it left me 100% unsure as to whether Nanette's uncle was a skirt-chaser or just misunderstood.  I'm bothered by that vagueness.  More about that in a bit.  Really, though, I feel like it should have been called "No, No, Uncle Jimmy."

So, when I was a kid, my mom and brother and I all watched The Lawrence Welk Show every Saturday night.  I loved it.  The singing, the dancing, the music, the costumes -- so much fun!  And one of my favorite performers on the show was Mary Lou Metzger because she was always cheery and fun, and she did a lot of the funnier songs.  At least once, she sang the song "No, No, Nanette!"  I found this video on YouTube that include it, so you can see it if you want to:


And ever since I first saw this song performed on the show, I've wanted to know what on earth Nanette was up to that people were always telling her not to do.  So when Phyl announced the Eve Arden blogathon, I looked Eve Arden up on imdb.com and saw that she was in a movie called No, No, Nanette and looked to see if it was available on either YouTube or Amazon Instant Video.  And it was, so I was like, "YES!  At last, I can find out what Nanette is up to!"

So, um... it turns out there's a stage play called No, No, Nanette that the title song and the songs "Tea for Two" and "I Want to be Happy" are from, and this is a movie that is loosely based on.  And by "loosely based," I mean "they both have a character named Nanette in them, and they both involve blackmail."  Ahem.  Yeah.  Oh, this movie does have "Tea for Two" and "I Want to be Happy" in it also.  So I guess it's kind of a musical.  But it didn't have the title song in it, so I was bummed about that.

Random trivia thing:  There's another movie that's loosely based on the same play called Tea for Two (1950) that stars Doris Day and Gordon MacRae, though also with only the vaguest of resemblences to the play.  And Eve Arden is in that too!  I just found that out.  Kind of wishing I'd chosen to watch it for the blogathon instead, but then again, it's not free on Amazon right now, and this is, so... there you go.

Okay, so the plot of this particular film is that Nanette (Anna Neagle) lives with her Aunt Susan (Helen Broderick) and Uncle Jimmy (Roland Young).  And all these random, pretty girls keep getting money out of Uncle Jimmy by saying he made a pass at them when his wife wasn't around.  And Uncle Jimmy loves Aunt Susan, so he keeps paying them off, and Nanette keeps helping sort things out, and trying to keep her Aunt Susan from finding out about it all.  Except... Aunt Susan already knows.  ::cue dramatic music::

Also, there's this whole subplot where she's in love with this artist (Richard Carlson), but there's this producer (Victor Mature) who loves her too.

So it's supposed to be all cute and fluffy, except that I could never decide if Uncle Jimmy really was misinterpreted by all these women he innocently meets on a ferry boat or whatever, because there are a couple instances where he most definitely does this creepy-old-dude-stare-and-leer thing?  And so I'm really not sure?  And part of me thinks the subtext might be that he really was a creepy old dude?  But then we're all supposed to be happy when Aunt Susan takes him back at the end of the movie?

Sigh.

Now, the bright spot of this movie was actually Eve Arden.  She played this aspiring artist who can't paint at all well, but thinks she can, and she had these two dogs, and she pretends to have this ridiculous accent when she's actually from Kansas.  I got quite a few chuckles out of her performance.  Unfortunately, the quality of the video on Amazon (and the free one on YouTube) were so poor, I couldn't get any decent screenshots of her.  And there aren't any on the internet, really -- at least, none I could find by googling.  This is the best I could find!  She's the one in the center with the feather in her hair and some kind of feathered... purse?  muff?  thing on her arm.


In the end, if you like Eve Arden or really daffy old movies, you might like this.  However, it's not one I feel compelled to watch again.


Like I said, this is my contribution to Phyl's Eve Arden Blogathon -- click on the button or right here to access the list of everyone else's posts :-)

16 comments:

  1. You might enjoy the Doris Day film more, although for me it does seem to drag in spots. None of the spots that feature Eve Arden's wry comments on the goings on. Another thing that bothered me was that for a film set in the 1920s it lacked the right "look".

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    1. Caftan Woman, I would like to see the Doris Day version. She's one of my favorite actresses, and I really like her opposite GM in By the Light of the Silvery Moon and On Moonlight Bay.

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  2. We used to watch the Lawrence Welk show every Saturday night, too :-) It was always one of the big highlights of my week.

    I'm trying to remember who was my favorite performer; but I can't seem to put my finger on it. It's been a while. I know I loved Larry Hooper, and also Dick Dale . . . I think one of the performances I love best was Dick Dale and the two girls (I forget their names) singing "Tiny Bubbles." It was so soothing and sort of happy, but low-key happy. I liked that :-)

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    1. Jessica, so cool you used to watch TLWS too! I felt like I was almost friends with some of the performers, I spent so much time watching them. Bobby Burgess, Dick Dale, Mary Lou Metzger, the Lennon Sisters, Anacani -- so many favorites! Larry Hooper too, he always seemed to sweet. It was a great show to just relax with, maybe crochet while watching. I might have to start watching eps on YouTube once in a while.

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    2. Yes, indeed. It was such a lovely, happy show.

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  3. Lawrence Welk Show! I used to watch that with my Grandma on Saturday nights when I was 8. (I spent weekends with my grandparents when we were in the US one year.)
    I looked up the play version of No, No, Nanette, and I think I would prefer it to the movie version, although neither one seem to be quite my cup of tea. (Although it sounds like in the play version, Uncle JIMmy really is misinterpreted.)

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    1. Kendra, how nifty you watched that as a child too! I also read through a summary of the play and think it sounds better. Wish they'd just done a film version of it instead!

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  4. I remember watching Lawrence Welk when I was a kid with my grandparents in the 60's and 70's. (I'm old, what can I say). I also remember a game show that followed it called "Name That Tune", most of the songs used were older melodies, and you never heard more than a snippet after the contestant guessed the name right, but I bet you would have liked it. It was revived several times over the years, but the classic I remember, with Tom Kennedy as the host, was the one we watched in those days. Never watched No No Nanette, but then you already know I'm not much for musicals. Gotta be in the right mood, and sometimes you have to tie me down like Alex in A Clockwork Orange and force me to watch...

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    1. Quiggy, I have heard of "Name That Tune," but never watched it. Cowboy and I recently watched some of the very first eps of "What's My Line," though, and they're a hoot! I do dig some of the old game shows.

      Spend your musical-watching moods on better movies than this one.

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    2. I used to come home early from the bar on Sunday nights back when the Game Show Network broadcast old game shows for "Black & White Sundays". Got to see Whats My Line as well as To Tell the Truth, The Name's the Same and others. If you like WML, be sure to check out my entry for the Lucy and Desi Blogathon, as I am covering Lucy's guest appearances on the show. (BTW, I don't come home from the bar anymore. I am 8½ years sober...)

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  5. I haven't seen the film for years. I saw the show at an amateur theatre more recently. Society was so different in those days. The weirdest musical I've ever seen was Salad Days but I don't think it was ever made into a movie.

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    1. Rosie, I just had to look up "Salad Days," and boy, that sounds wacky!

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  6. Since we have practically the same taste in movies I probably won't like this movie either but I will probably watch it for Arden. My brother has Tea for Two on a Doris Day set and we started watching it once but I left because it was so slow and I wasn't in the mood for it. I'll probably watch it one day too.

    Thanks for participating in the Blogathon! I'm sorry you didn't get to review a movie you enjoyed though!

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    1. Phyl, you will probably get a kick out of Arden's parts of the movie :-) The movie as a whole wasn't bad, it just wasn't my thing? So not a total loss!

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  7. Well, the plot for this movie is pretty distrubing, if we consider the latest scandals in Hollywood... I hope I can see it someday, because, well, Eve arden makes anything better, doesn't she?
    Kisses!

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    1. Le, yes, that was a little bit in the back of my mind too, how the "casting couch" and boys-will-be-boys mentality probably informed the making of the movie. That being said, a lot of it was really fun, and Arden made me laugh aloud several times :-)

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