Wallflower (1948)

Wallflower (1948)

Directed by Frederick De Cordova who would go on to become a multiple Emmy winner for executive producing TV’s “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” with a screenplay by Henry & Phoebe Ephron (Captain Newman M.D. (1963)) this average comedy stars Joyce Reynolds and Janis Page as sisters in a boy crazy girl crazy post-World War II world; Robert Hutton plays a “serious” love interest for both! Edward Arnold & Barbara Brown play the girl’s parents; Jerome Cowan & Ann Shoemaker play his. Lotte Stein plays an immigrant (Swedish?) family maid whose sole purpose is a few language conflict gags. The film’s title comes from the fact that Page’s character Brown’s daughter is more than popular with the menfolk whereas Reynolds’s (title) character Arnold’s daughter who’s also attractive but too brainy for her own good isn’t noticed in her sister’s aura. Outrageously dated sexual stereotypes make this much less enjoyable as the fluff that it is than it otherwise might be.

Man magnet Joy (Paige) Linnett and her attractive but well adjusted stepsister Jackie (Reynolds) return from years away at college to find the “boys” from their childhood have grown up many of whom have returned from serving in the war. Joy’s Mom Jessie (Brown) is dismayed that so many flowers have been sent to welcome her daughter home whereas her husband Andrew’s (Arnold) daughter her stepdaughter has only received half a bouquet from Warren James (Hutton). So Mrs. Linnett erases Joy’s name and Jackie used to falling outside of her stepsister’s glow is thrilled to find she’s been sent flowers. This leads to an embarrassing situation later when Warren turns up and wonders why the card is wrong. Jessie believes that Warren is the “pick of the litter” among Joy’s beaus and believes that Jackie should have him since no one boy seems to be enough for her daughter. Nonetheless Jessie apologizes to Jackie later when confronted about changing the card.

When Joy who wore a most revealing bathing suit returns from a swim with a handful of young men which included Warren Jackie is quietly upset to learn that Warren will be Joy’s date to the big dance. Warren had been about to ask Jackie to the same dance earlier before Joy entered the room wearing the flimsy suit. Later Mr. Linnett throws a fit that no one has asked “his” daughter to the dance despite Mrs. Linnett’s & Joy’s efforts to find someone for Jackie. After keeping Warren and his parents (Cowan & Shoemaker) waiting for 30 minutes Joy and her parents escort Warren and she to the dance leaving Jackie who refused to be a party pooper home alone. However when the pilot Stevie (Don McGuire) who’d brought the girls home from college calls for Joy Jackie gets “smart” by “dumbing” herself down to get herself invited to the dance. She then copies her sister’s revealing party dress by cutting the straps off of her own making her old self unrecognizable and becoming a more popular girl at the dance.

Warren after being turned down when he’d proposed to Joy joins Mr. Linnett in the bar who’d been upset by his wife’s sudden forthrightness. Later Jackie finds Warren who then proposes to her. Though she’s happy to hear it she also doesn’t believe his intentions are honorable or trustworthy in his condition so she convinces him to leave with her. She then takes him to the local lake where her family maintains a dressing room but some local boys steal their clothes while they’re swimming and later take their swimsuits as well. Clothed only in robes Jackie drives the car home and leaves the still drunken Warren to drive himself home. When he falls on the steering wheel horn a policeman is alerted to the scene where eventually he arrests them. Mr. Linnett who’s the town’s district attorney is then called in the middle of the night. Though he was in bed he’s still clothed in his tuxedo and still a bit tipsy from the night’s activities himself. Naturally he’s concerned with adverse publicity. Sure enough a picture of Warren and Jackie is splashed across the front page of the newspaper the next morning and suddenly Jackie is the one all the young men want to date. The film’s ending does nothing to improve this predictable dated (to the point of being somewhat offensive) and rarely funny “comedy”.

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