Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cinema Tuesdays {Bachelor in Paradise}

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From 1961 it's Bachelor in Paradise, an amusing comedy with a zippy score by Henry Mancini.
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Bob Hope plays A. J. Niles, a best selling author of various books on how the Europeans live, from the perspective of a bachelor. You know, books that are clean enough to get published but just dirty enough to sell. Niles is a confirmed bachelor who lives to do hands on experiments and he hasn't been back to America in over ten years.
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But then he's called back to Washington. It seems that his business manager hasn't filed his income tax for over ten years and has skipped town, along with all of Bob Hope's money. The IRS now wants over a half a million and wont let him leave the country.
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So, his publisher has an idea. Why doesn't Niles write a book called "How the Americans live" and he can go undercover to do research but no experiments. You see, in the time that Niles has been out of the country, millions of Americans have moved into the suburbs, or tract housing, instead of living in the cities. And it just so happens that the publisher has invested in a housing development in California called Paradise Village and he will arranged for "Jack Adams" to rent a house there.
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So Jack goes to California and who should be the co-manager of Paradise but Lana Turner playing Rosemary Howard, also a confirmed bachelor. Notice how they've put Rosemary in boring suits and tall, unmoving hair in order to show that she's put her business career ahead of marriage and children and therefore can't look pretty and feminine.
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This is Tom, the blowhard boss of Paradise. He built Paradise and thinks it's the bee's knees and doesn't think of anything else but maintaining the reputation of Paradise. He also doesn't like the idea of a bachelor living in Paradise.
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Jack tries to put the moves on Rosemary but she's not having any of it.
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This is the house that Jack rented.
It's also Rosemary's house, but he doesn't know that yet.
And it's not pink.
It's California Coral.
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These are Jack's new neighbours, Linda and Larry as the typical American couple. They met at university (her degree is in Romance Languages) married right after graduation and quickly had two kids.
In their third movie together, it's Paula Prentiss and Jim Hutton (who was also in Walk, Don't Run and Ellery Queen -the greatest show you've never heard of)
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So, Jack settles into observing life in the American Suburbs.
At the Drive-In.
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In the neighbourhood.
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At the grocery store.
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He also runs into Janis Paige, who's playing Dolores. She's married to Tom, only he's cheap and has left her for Paradise. So she sits around all day, being miserable and drinking.
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Tom doesn't like the reports he's been getting from the neighbourhood gossip. Housewives wearing lipstick and pretty dresses in the middle of the day! And going to Jack's for a group meeting every afternoon! In Paradise! It's outrageous! Why don't you do something about it Rosemary, before I drop dead from the shock of having a bachelor in the suburbs!
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Only, Jack isn't fooling around with anyone. Whenever he takes Dolores out, all she doesn't is drink and sob into her vodka about how cruel Tom is being to her.
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But he does finally manage to take Rosemary out to the local tiki room.
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The meetings he's been holding with the girls are just about giving advice to them in order to help them get their husbands to pay more attention to them. He really just wants to help, might be because of Rosemary.
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He then gets reports as to the response to his suggestions, which vary greatly and uses the findings to help him write his book.
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Of course, not all of his suggestions are well received but it does show just how bored the suburban housewife is that she'll try anything.
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He then gets Rosemary to be his part time secretary by pretending to be writing a book in the style of A. J. Niles.
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Of course the husbands all leap to conclusions about what their wives are doing all day with Jack.
See Jim Hutton doing one of the better drunk scenes in movies.
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The husbands then present a petition to Tom to get Jack thrown out of Paradise.
But Rosemary wont do it, so she gets fired.
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And then turns up in a white dress in Jack's doorway (shades of The Postman Always Rings Twice anyone) to offer her services as a full time secretary.
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So she shows him how much the American past times, like baseball and bowling have changed since he left the country.
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And then, just when he's about to propose marriage, the phone rings.
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The IRS has found his business manager in Mexico and A. J. Niles is no longer broke.
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He then talks to the cameras about his new book and everyone in Paradise watches.
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He goes back to Paradise, but Rosemary is upset and turns him down.
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And then the wives turn up to offer their support for his new book.
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And then the husbands form an angry mob.
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The divorce case allows for a wonderful cameo by Agnes Moorehead as the judge.
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"I could tell there was something going on by the way she was wrapping the garbage"
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So, it's up to Rosemary to save those three marriages, but how will she answer Jack?
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Here is the trailer:

Bachelor in Paradise was only released on a VHS. It's isn't on DVD. Nor is it coming up on TCM and hasn't been shown on TCM since I taped it last summer. It's also not available as a torrent. I don't know if it will be released anytime soon or where to find it. Of course you could always send me a note.

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