US, 1955, 81 minutes, Colour.
Rory Calhoun, Piper Laurie. Reginald Gardiner, Jack Carson, Barbara Britton, Mamie Van Doren.
Directed by Edward Buzzell.
Ain't Misbehavin' was the type of film that Universal Studios did so well during the '50s. Brief, well-made technically, light comedy and satire, music. These ingredients are always popular. Rory Calhoun was a well-liked hero of the time and Piper Laurie was a regular star in such films at Universal, especially in adventures with Tony Curtis. (She was later to have a stronger career in such films as The Hustler and in the 1970s Carrie and the Australian-made Tim.) Pleasant take-it-or-leave-it entertainment.
1. The quality of this bright musical comedy of the '50s, the characters, its impact now?
2. Audience response to this kind of bright entertainment, colour, opulence, San Francisco, Nob Hill and the Rowdy Club, songs and dances? The B status and quality of the film, its success in this genre?
3. The importance of the structure: the invitation by the adviser, his explanation of the situation? His guiding audience attitudes towards Ken Post, to Sarah? Guiding audience expectations?
4. The value of conventional plot, the fairytale elements, modern dress? Love story and interest? Prince Charming and Cinderella? Real, unreal? A happy ending?
5. The character of Ken, at attractive man, his inherited wealth, style, flying under the bridge, taking risks? Business skill, the attraction to Sarah? The dating, the growing in love and the change in him? His being affected by San Francisco snobbery, wanting relaxation? Jealousy and the truth? Was he a credible character for this kind of man? Audience response to him? what did he stand for in values of love and genuineness?
6. Sarah, an attractive club dancer, the explicit gold digger, dating, falling in love? The genuineness of their dates in the clubs, the evening on the oyster boat? The happiness of the marriage, her gaffes in high society, the dancing, learning culture, her motivation for change, the effect on her and the marriage? What values did she stand for? Modern Cinderella?
7. The wrong side of the press agent, his being always there in the dates, his discovering the truth too late, his trying to help?
8. Pierpoint: drunk, culture, help. the butt of jealousy?
9. The range of San Francisco people: the chorus girls and their aims, sailors, fishermen. the snobs at the party, discussion about opera, food and drink, Pat and her social-climbing?
10. The contrivance of the ending with the cold, the return to the Rowdy Club?
11. How entertaining? Traditional and conventional values accepted and reinforced?