Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Walk, Don't Run}

This is one of the few cases where the remake is just as good as the original. The original movie was The More the Merrier from 1943 with Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn and Joel McCrea and about the housing shortage in Washington DC after the Americans entered the war. Walk, Don't Run is set during the housing shortage of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and was filmed on location.
The original was a vehicle for Jean Arthur but this time, it's a vehicle for Cary Grant. Well, it was his last film and seems to have been deliberately chosen by him as a way to retire. Plus, what till you hear the reference he makes to Charade. Cary Grant plays Cary Grant, the industrialist who arrives in Tokyo two days early and his hotel room wont be ready for two days. Naturally, he goes to the Embassy to see if they can do anything, but Julius D. Haversack, the Second Secretary to the Minister of Protocol wont even look up until he hears who Cary Grant's character is.
In the mean time, Cary Grant decides to look at the bulletin board and sees an add for a room. So he wanders along and meets Samantha Eggar, who's playing Christine and is shocked to find out that she forgot to specify the gender wanted on her add.

But since he is Cary Grant, he manages to get her to agree to renting out her sitting room. What's great about this movie is that you get to see Sixties Tokyo, which looks way more traditional and friendlier than the Tokyo in Lost in Translation. Can you even still find walk-ups in Tokyo with paper walls?
Christine insists on maintaining a regimented schedule for use of the bathroom in the mornings, which is difficult since Christine is a morning person who only needs 12 minutes to do her makeup and big Sixties hair and Cary Grant has trouble reading the schedule and making coffee. But he does show you how to work a percolator.
He also meets Jim Hutton, who's playing one of the American Olympians and who also arrived in Tokyo two days early and doesn't have a room yet. Cary Grant likes Jim Hutton, who reminds him of himself a few years ago, when he was taller.
Cary Grant then follows Jim Hutton around and invites him to one of the public baths. Sure they're strangers, but hey, it's Cary Grant.
So, Cary Grant rents Jim Hutton half of his room.

If Christine didn't like sharing her apartment with one man, then she really doesn't like sharing her apartment with two. What would people say? Actually, she's the only character who finds this situation objectionable. And since she's already spent Cary Grant's rent money, she can't do anything about it.
This leads to alterations in the morning schedule for the bathroom. The morning scenes are the funniest scenes in the movie. And you get to see three different ways people act in the morning since Christine is a morning person, Jim Hutton isn't awake
and Cary Grant is confused in the mornings and takes the long way round in order to get the milk from the hallway.
The two little kids in the stairwell are just about the cutest thing in a movie ever!
Cary Grant's timing in the movie is just brilliant. He condenses all of the morning scenes from Mr. Blandings just into this one scene with his trousers.
This might also be one of the first Asian-set Hollywood movies with absolutely no racism of any sort. There's even Aiko, Christine's best friend, who is a modern working girl and isn't shocked to find Christine living with two men, but she still dresses in traditional garb when she visits her parents on the weekends.
The three room mates eventually get along. But Cary Grant's plans to play matchmaker are thrown off when he learns that Jim Hutton doesn't want to get married and that Christine has been engaged to Julius D. Haversack for 22 months and yet she still calls him "Mr. Haversack" and is only marrying him because he's stable and they can have a house with a washing machine.
No matter. Cary Grant never fails. He gets himself and Christine invited to dinner with some of the Olympians.
And lets Christine teach Jim Hutton to use chopsticks.
Meanwhile, since he picked the restaurant, he gets ham and eggs and cutlery and a chair.
The all-girl band isn't that good, but their dresses have ruffles and a bow at the waist!
Cary Grant leaves the next morning because his hotel is ready and he wants to leave his two room mates alone together.
Just when things are going to Cary Grant's plan, the KGB guy (who was also a Russian in Bye Bye Birdie) shows up and Mr. Haversack calls to say that he's waiting downstairs.
No matter. Cary Grant knows where Christine and Mr. Haversack are going and takes Jim Hutton along and then he spends the day talking to Mr. Haversack about the book he's writing about life as a minor diplomat.
There's also a great juxtaposition scene between the traditional Japanese home and tea service and the younger children watching a Western on the television.
Turns out that Mr. Haversack's book is quite long and exciting and Mr. Haversack must come up to Cary Grant's hotel room to tell him the end and Jim Hutton can take Christine home.
Just when things are really going well, the cops turned up because the KGB reported that they were spies. Don't you hate it when that happens?
So Mr. Haversack and Cary Grant are called down to the cop shop.
And then everyone and his brother shows up to explain.
But don't worry, since Sulu is the police captain and he immediately sees that the KGB guy is nuts and he sorts everything out because hey, he's George Takei. But he does have to write down Jim Hutton's Tokyo address.
Jim Hutton then leaves before he can sign the waiver to keep everything off the public record.
So, Mr. Haversack gets him to sign. Unfortunately, the guy in the blue shirt is a reporter and he learns everything.
So, Cary Grant takes off his clothes and tries to convince Jim Hutton to marry Christine for the day, so that no one will suspect that they were just friends.
Besides, if everyone cooperates they can have the marriage annulled in the morning, so long as they don't cooperate before that. After all, they are only getting married to protect Mr. Haversack's career.

And if only Cary Grant can think of a way to get around Mr. Haversack insisting that he's going to sleep in the hall, then his work will be done.
Naturally he thinks of a way, because he's Cary Grant.

And that is how you retire gracefully from the screen.


Andi B. Goode said...

My mum has this film (she LOVES Cary Grant so my sister and I are always buying his films for her) but I've not watched it yet (could have something to do with the fact that I've got at least 60 DVDs I've not watched of my own ;]). But I eventually aim to get through all of his films, or as close as is possible.
-Andi x

barncat said...

Another fun movie post. :) I've not seen this one, yikes! I do love an old Cary Grant movie, hopefully I can rent it, or maybe I'll get lucky and it will be on TCM.