Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Feminine Touch (1941)

When I first saw the title The Feminine Touch I thought it was going to be a drag classic romantic comedy. Then I saw that Rosalind Russell and Don Ameche were in it along with Kay Francis and Van Heflin and figured it could not be that bad. And it was not I enjoyed the film a lot.
            Don Ameche plays John Hathaway a psychology professor in a small collage where education is put on the backburner to football. During one of his classes he finds a kid called Rubber- Legs carving his name in a heart along with John’s wife Julie’s name in it as well! John does not say much nor does he get jealous. He was supposed to pick up Julie (Russell) at the train station but he gets called into the dean’s office. Rubber- Legs takes advantage of this situation and picks up Julie saying that John had sent him to do so.
            When Julie gets to the house she tells her husband that Rubber- Legs picked her saying he had sent him to do so. John then tells her about the carving on the desk. She questions if he did anything out of jealousy. Since John was not jealous Julie gets mad and tells him just to get a reaction out of him that she saw her old fiancé when she was home and how she went out dancing with him and had a good time. John does not even react in the slightest to this news he just sits in his chair nice and calm which irritates Julie to no end.
            The next day the dean has John give Rubber- Legs the easiest test he can come up with so the kid can pass and play in the important game that weekend. John makes the test so easy but Rubber- Legs is just so stupid. John gets fed up he has fit. He has taken Julie to New York City where he plans to have his psychology book published. The next morning he regrets having dragged her to the city once he hears all the noise outside so early in the morning. Julie convinces him to stay and get his book published.
            They go to the publisher’s office together. They want to see a man named Elliot Morgan (Van Heflin) but he is not in and they are taken care of by his secretary Nellie Woods. Nellie tells John she liked the book especially the part about jealousy in marriage and suggests that John make the whole book about that. Nellie is very outgoing around John and almost completely ignores Julie which Julie does not like and becomes jealous. When John and Nellie go into her office to go over the book and sign the contract Julie is left outside. She sees a door lock with a key in it start moving and a newspaper come out from under the door. Whoever is in the next room wanted to get the key onto the paper to slide the key under the door but the door is too low and he does not get the key. Julie sees the person struggling and asks if he needs help. The person in locked in the room was Elliot Morgan he had been locked in the room by Nellie so she could be the one making the deal. He walks fast past Julie but as soon as he lays eyes on her he is very taken with her. At this time John and Nellie walk out of the room. John can see that the kind of woman his wife is might be good for Elliot since he has never known a woman to trust him. John is not worried about his wife going with Elliot but Julie is worried about the publisher and he secretary since she can see they like each other.
            The rest of the film sees Julie mad at John for not being jealous. All she wants is for her husband to jealous like she is when she walked in on John with Nellie in his arms. She even has a Surrealist-like dream where she and John are walking down a road and he punches all the guys who look at her out and she wakes up with a smile on her face thinking it was real. Eventually John does get jealous of Elliot when he thinks he asked Julie to his island in New England. Elliot does ask Nellie to marry him since he could not bear life without her.
            The funniest scene of the film is at the end when John and Elliot fight each other. The fight is too hysterical to describe except for the fact that they punch each other out. After they punch each other out Nellie and Julie exchange some words and then get into a cat fight themselves!
            I loved this cast they were all perfect together. Don Ameche was so good. I am used to seeing him as this nicely put together gentleman from Heaven Can Wait that seeing him all frazzled and not as well dressed was so funny. I love the man even more I think he was such a good actor. Rosalind Russell in my mind is the ultimate comedic actress. Her facial expressions crack me up alone. I did not really like seeing her as the jealous woman trying to get her husband to be jealous but she was just fantastic. Kay Francis I have absolutely nothing but praise for her. She looked amazing and had this wonderful tough New York City working girl attitude. Francis had a speech impediment that she was able to hide pretty well in the 1930s but later writers in Hollywood started to mess with her and give her words where her impediment can be clearly heard and in this film in a few scenes especially when she gets mad you can hear it. I think it makes her more endearing and the funny situations funnier. Van Heflin was a panic. I am so used to him as this serious guy from some of the other films I have seen him. I had such a great time seeing Heflin as this womanizing guy with a fiery attitude.
            The Feminine Touch is a very funny film with a different kind of plot but it starts getting a bit too much and becomes a little confusing. I did enjoy watching this film a lot I thought it was funny and very entertaining with a great cast and great dialogue. As of right now The Feminine Touch is not out on DVD nor is it available on Youtube. TCM played the film for Kay Francis’s day their Summer Under the Stars program. If TCM ever does play the film again definitely catch it.