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Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942) Card

Your September 2007 Random Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: Gee it's great to be together at last on another fellow's honeymoon!

Preshow Entertainment: 1964 World's Fair slide show

Watching Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in
ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON is like watching Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson in

Well, we got to talking and talking. When the pizza arrived, we hadn't even started the Preshow Entertainment. So it became the Postshow Entertainment.

Memories from the 1964 NY World's Fair
Top: Unisphere & US Royal Exhibit
Bottom: Monorail & Smoke Ring Button
If you know me, or were present at this RMC meeting, it's pretty clear just how much the 1964 World's Fair means to me. It was a magical place, and being a child tripled the magic. The tire Ferris wheel, the monorails, the trams, the Goldfinger car!, the Federal Pavilion, Belgian Village, IBM, NCR, Traveller's, Ford. It was the last great World's Fair. Though Expo '67 was up there (it was more successful than New York's, but less magical), World's Fairs were dying. I remember people complaining the Knoxville Fair in '82 was one long t-shirt booth. And don't even get me started on 1986's in Vancouver.

As corny as it may sound, I do believe the '64 World's Fair helped shape me. Who knows what I would be today if I never went. I mean, it's what got me into blimps (Goodyear had all three, I believe, circling above the fair). And I still have my White Owl "Meet Me At The The Smoke Ring" pin (the second "the" is intentional). Look at the button in the picture above again.

So for the Postshow, I showed slides (well, pix on CD ROMs that I got on eBay). Whoever took these photos did a brilliant job. Bright and colorful, it took no time at all for me to get a bad case of nostalgia.

NY Pavilion, 1964 (L) and Present day (R)
World's Fair NY Pavilion
Left: 1964 Right: 2003

NY Pavilion, Present Day
NY Pavilion, Present Day

It was so bittersweet - the fashions, the technologies, the people...and those New York State colors of blue and orange. But the thrill was offset by the knowledge of what Flushing Meadow Park looks like today. You can't go home again. That's because home is a decrepit and rusty structure that used to be the New York Pavilion.

And Now, Our Feature Presentation:

Does ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON genre-jump? Sybil wishes she had this many personalities. But the world was at war, so Hollywood thought it was time for a Nazi comedy. And once again, Hollywood got it wrong. Was this a comedy? A thriller? A suspense story? A romance? Well, the answer is no, no, no, and let me think....no. For there's little comedy, mystery, suspense or romance. A strange animal, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON was made and released during world War II (less than a year after Pearl Harbor). Its backdrop was the bloodiest war in history.

Katie O'Hara Von Luber, aka Katherine Butt-Smith (Ginger Rogers) and Pat O'Toole (Cary Grant)
Cary Grant plays his usual (nothing wrong with that) affable character. He's Pat O'Toole, a newsman trying to snag a story about the Baron (Walter Slezak, the German in LIFEBOAT), a shady figure who may have secret ties to Hitler. If Pat can get to the Baron's new wife, Katherine (Ginger Rogers), he may be able to learn things about the Baron.

In a rare (perhaps the only) moment containing comedy, Pat pretends to be Katherine's fitter, sizing her up for her wedding gown. Clueless (he came with a retractable tape measure), he proceeds to bluff his way through the fitting, only to be exposed when the real fitter arrives. Making his intentions (and designs on Katherine) clear, the next hour and forty minutes whiz by with the speed of a turtle on a trytophan drip. And amid the whimsy there are scenes like smuggling a Jewish woman and her two children out of the country, or a brutal assassination of a general. It's also awkward watching these two wonderful actors trading flirty-cute repartee while bombs explode, countries are occupied, and innocent people die. But
RMC Hero Hans Conried is here to save the day! Sadly, it's a tiny role as the real fitter. And though it was only five years into his career, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON was Hans' 24th movie.

It takes Katherine an awful long time to believe what Pat's been telling her from Reel 1 - the Baron is no good. And when she does believe him, as if they had prescient knowledge of 1946's NOTORIOUS, she stays with the Baron to spy for America. Hooray!

Hardly anyone in the movie is who they say they are - Katherine is really Katie, a stripper from Brooklyn looking to become a socialite through marriage. She also pretends to be a maid. Pat is, as stated earlier, a newsman who pretends to be a fitter, and later, along with Katherine, is mistaken by the Nazis for a Jew (panicked, Cary Grant actually says the line, "Now they think we're Jewish!"). A French photog is actually an American spy cozying up to the Germans to get info. And the good Baron is indeed a bad Baron. You'd think director Leo McCarey may have used these masquerades to his advantage and created a little more entertainment bang. Comedy, suspense...something!

Oh so promising a movie starring Grant/Rogers (they'd do better ten years later in Howard Hawks' MONKEY BUSINESS) and directed by McCarey (who did one of my top three favorite comedies, DUCK SOUP). But ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON is like some marriages - a well-intentioned mess that should never have happened.

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