In Which Alonzo Hawk Hits on Jane Russell
I think Netflix suggested I wanted to watch this based on my interest in [i]Gentlemen Prefer Blondes[/i]. Really, it's hard for me to keep track sometimes. I'm constantly getting DVDs from them and wondering why I had them in my queue in the first place. Did I need to see them before I die? Did I read about them somewhere else? Did I just happen to hear that someone I liked was in a movie which struck my interest in some random way? I'm never sure about these things, and I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't start writing them down. It probably says a lot about me, though once again, I'm not sure if I want to know what. That's the problem with introspection; you have to live with what you see. And what you see isn't always as harmless as this movie, which I suppose is the theme of it.
Laurel Stevens (Jane Russell) is an actress who is co-producing her next big hit. She tells the studio executives that, unless they put back in a bathtub scene which is going to get them in trouble with the censors--not unknown for her--she won't show up to the movie's premiere. She is picked up the night of the premiere by what she thinks to be her normal driver. Instead, she has been kidnapped by Mike (Ralph Meeker) and Dandy (Keenan Wynn). The problem with this is that her film is called [i]The Kidnapped Bride[/i], and the reasonable assumption is that it's a publicity stunt. Only of course it isn't. But Laurel ends up taking over the whole thing in the hopes of salvaging her career. And, of course, she finds out that Mike has a Dark Past. And she falls in love with him. Because there are certain conventions in this kind of movie.
For example, we have to learn that Laurel doesn't really have any friends. The various studio people are more concerned about the negative publicity they assume they'll get for this stunt than they are about her. Her best friend, Bertha (Una Merkel), wants very much to call the police, but she is reminded that she'd had her own career ruined when she spent a weekend with a sailor. Even that isn't enough in the long run--but it means they do all sorts of other things to prevent her from contacting the police instead. When the cop (Fred Clark) finds out that Laurel has short, brown hair instead of the long, blonde hair she has in the movies, he suggests they put out that picture of her instead. And the studio people freak out, because America knows and loves her as a blonde. It's the image which is important, not the woman.
Actually, I can think of two fake disappearances of actual celebrities from some years earlier than this movie is set, and neither woman's career was ruined. Oh, Aimee Semple McPherson's went downhill pretty severely for a while, and she has become a bit of a laughingstock among those who aren't actually members of her church, but she was, after all, the founder of a church. Agatha Christie, on the other hand, has history pretty well divided between "crazy" and "furious at her husband." Then again, the issue with Laurel is that a fake disappearance could have been about nothing but publicity, given the timing. It would be an awfully cynical ploy. It would have been cruel to those who really cared about her but weren't in on it--which basically means Bertha, of course. But fans care, too, and they wouldn't have liked being toyed with.
The thing is, I have no idea why the movie is called what it is. The men have a fuzzy pink nightgown which they give Laurel to wear instead of the evening gown she's wearing when they kidnap her, but I don't see how it's relevant to much. She says the Laurel Stevens the American public knows and loves would never wear such a thing, and I think possibly she ends up wearing it after all. I suppose there's some metaphor going there. It's just that it's a there and gone moment. Possibly it's more to do with the fact that no movie has been named that, which means you can't confuse it with a movie with a similar title. There's only one [i]Fuzzy Pink Nightgown[/i]. This is actually kind of a relief. Especially given that I mostly know Keenan Wynn from various Disney movies, and the character here is a lot less vicious and self-centered. I don't know; Jane Russell dated Howard Hughes, so maybe she would have preferred that.