A charming, fast-moving comedy, VIVACIOUS LADY shows Rogers didn't have to be in a musical to shine on screen. Stewart is her costar, playing a mild-mannered botany professor in a college town whose university is headed by his pedantic, domineering father, Coburn. Stewart's cousin
(Ellison, a longtime western star in a rare foray out of that genre) has been haunting the nightspots in New York, and Stewart is dispatched to bring Ellison back. While in the Big Apple, Stewart meets Rogers, a bouncy, sprightly nightclub performer unlike any woman he knows back home. In the
brief span of one night, the two fall in love and are married. Stewart brings Rogers back to his small hometown, where he must figure out some way to break the news of his marriage to his former fiancee (Mercer), his father, and his mother (Bondi), who succumbs to "heart seizures" whenever she is
upset. Bondi's heart condition is strictly phony and self-serving, but it alarms Stewart enough that he feels he has to soft-pedal the news. Stewart resolves to reveal all, but when push comes to shove, he finds that he is too frightened to do it, setting up the film's one-joke premise. Luckily,
VIVACIOUS LADY supplies enough twists that it manages to keep that one joke amusing for an entire movie. The botanist finally comes clean and his stuffy relatives accept his new bride, though not before Rogers and Mercer indulge in a wild, hair-pulling catfight--it's a wonder the actresses didn't
come out of the fracas bald.
Stewart successfully handles a variety of emotions without ever losing his quality of likable innocence; Rogers not only gives a fine performance, but also sings "You'll Be Reminded of Me" (Ted Shapiro, Ted Meskill, George Jessel) and dances "The Big Apple" (with Bondi, Ellison, and Coburn). This
was her second successful collaboration with Stevens, who directed Rogers and Astaire in SWING TIME. In addition to a story filled with delightful moments and rich characterizations, VIVACIOUS LADY shows off some top comedy second bananas to great advantage, including Jack Carson, Grady Sutton,
and Franklin Pangborn. The film earned Academy Award nominations for Best Sound and Best Cinematography.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A charming, fast-moving comedy, VIVACIOUS LADY shows Rogers didn't have to be in a musical to shine on screen. Stewart is her costar, playing a mild-mannered botany professor in a college town whose university is headed by his pedantic, domineering father,… (more)