“Not so loud? I always talk loud when I'm mad! You're lucky I don't jump up and down! It's things like this that can make a man a... a... a republican!”
Once Upon a Honeymoon was made a year after America entered World War II. The film screams American propaganda and anti-Hitler and his Nazis. For being over two hours the film is very entertaining and very sweet I did not get bored watching it… but maybe that has a lot to do with two of my all time favorite classic Hollywood actors Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in the leads.
Katie O’Hara (Ginger Rogers. Is it just me or when you hear “Katie O’Hara” you think of Gone with the Wind? I gave a little chuckle when I heard the name) is a former American burlesque dancer who marries a Baron von Luber (Walter Slezak). Von Luber is Austrian that has ties to Hitler and the Nazis. Radio commentator Pat O’Toole (Cary Grant) sees Katie’s marriage as a great opportunity to investigate the baron but he can never get in. Pat gets the chance when the maid thinks that he is the clothing fitter.
It is love at first site for them. Pat pretends to be a fitter and hilariously measures Katie. Eventually Pat is found out but she does not let her husband know who he is. Katie and the baron travel and get married as they do so. Pat follows them in order to get some stories. The more they travel together the more they fall in love. Also Katie is finally realizing that wherever she and her husband go the Nazis invade as they move on to the next country.
Pat has his friend fake Katie’s death so she can get away from the baron and the Nazis but unfortunately they are captured by the organization and put into a camp for a while because they do not have their papers on them (Pat’s hotel was bombed out and Katie gave her Jewish maid her passport to get out of the country with her children and took the maid’s without throwing it away). They eventually get out and make their way through war ravage Europe into France.
Once in France they plan to go back home to America and be married. They go to a place run by the American government to get their passport photos taken and processed. The man who takes their photos Gaston (Albert Dekker) is actual an American agent and asks Katie to go back to the baron so they can get some information on him. Katie is conflicted because she really loves Pat and does not want to go back to the baron.
We all know that Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers live happily ever after.
I thought the film was pretty good. There were parts that dragged and made the film longer than was necessary but I enjoyed the story. I did however find it odd that Grant and Rogers were paired for a story like this. Their dramas are great but I find their comedy films much more entertaining. Grant was just fantastic in anything he was given his acting ability is beyond whatever anyone can do back then or today. Rogers had good dramatic performances but she is better at comedy. Yes, I know she won the Academy Award for Kitty Foyle which was dramatic but it is her comedies I remember more. In the beginning she is silly and totally adorable but once the whole story of the Nazis and Hitler really kicks in she is more serious. I do not really know what to make of Grant and Rogers as a pair. I first saw them paired in Monkey Business and even then in a comedy none the less I did not know what to make of them together. They were good friends in real life and you can definitely see their chemistry but for some reason they were odd looking together. I guess I am used to seeing him with these glamorous co-stars like Irene Dunne, Grace Kelly, and Ingrid Bergman and to me Ginger Rogers is not really glamorous she is more adorable.
My favorite scene with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers is at the beginning when he is taking her measurements. He obviously has no idea how to do that but he is having a great time. He even starts tickling her and they both start laughing. It is so cute! Later on he is leaving her room and he says “Now, just a moment. One last look. I want to always remember you just the way you look tonight... today.” You can see Ginger looking away from Cary with a smile on her face; it seems that the line was adlibbed just by her reaction. (for those of you not in on the joke Fred Astaire sang this to Rogers in their musical Swing Time)
The one main aspect that I could not really grasp was whether the movie was a straight comedy or a straight drama. It seems that Leo McCarey was trying to go for a dramedy to break the tension of a serious subject but that did not work out too well. One “funny” scene that failed to be really funny and tension breaking is when Albert Dekker and Ginger Rogers are talking about America and Dekker’s secret agent character is trying to be funny and play with accents from different parts of America and so is Rogers. It would have been funny if it was not dragged out so much. I was tense at that part because I kept thinking this guy is a bad guy and is just trying to get Katie killed (thank you Hitchcock films for putting that thought in my head).
Once Upon a Honeymoon is a good film I did enjoy it even though it was a bit dragged out and hard to determine if it was a comedy or a drama. Ginger Roger and Cary Grant made an interesting pair; I would have liked to have seen them in something else together besides this film and Monkey Business they had a lot of potential to be in better films together. I like films made during World War II because they are interesting in their propaganda nature and to see what filmmakers had to work with during this time. To me Once Upon a Honeymoon is one of the better films of the era I have seen.
Sit through Once Upon a Honeymoon if you like films made during the war or a big Cary Grant or Ginger Rogers fan (or like me a fan of both actors). The film currently available on yotuube.