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VIVACIOUS LADY
DVD region 2. Odeon Films.

Vivacious LadySaddled with a rather cumbersome title, Vivacious Lady (perhaps better served by alternative title Marriage Incognito) is an entertaining, if somewhat unsubstantial romantic comedy that manages to rise above its own limitations thanks to a couple of appealing leads who do their best with the rather limited material.

James Stewart plays university professor Peter Morgan Jr, who is trying to prise his playboy cousin Keith (James Ellison) out of a nightclub when he meets and falls in love with singer Francey (Ginger Rogers). The two of them are married by the morning, but Morgan has trouble breaking the news to his stuffy father (Charles Coburn) and delicate mother (Beulah Bondi). And then there’s the rather awkward issue of his unwanted fiancée (Frances Mercer) to contend with. The bulk of the film follows the couple’s struggles to be alone and break the news of their marriage to all concerned.

Not frenetic enough to qualify as a screwball farce – though the film is at its best when incorporating those elements, such as in the cat fight between Rogers and Mercer – the film seems a little uncertain as to what it wants to be – a comedy, a romance or something inbetween. But both Stewart – playing his usual good natured, rather bumbling character – and Rogers make an appealing couple, and so while the film might not exactly induce belly laughs, it will certainly bring a smile to your face. George Stevens directs with a steady hand, and while possibly a little over-long, the movie is entertaining, if not particularly memorable.

DAVID FLINT

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