Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Down to Earth (1947)
It is very loosely a sequel to Here Comes Mr Jordan. Very very loosely. Down to Earth in turn apparently inspired the 1980 movie Xanadu (although I’ve never seen Xanadu so I don’t know how much of a connection there really is).
Here Comes Mr Jordan (based on the play Heaven Can Wait) deals with guardian angels and could rather tenuously be regarded be regarded as dealing with vaguely Christian themes. Throwing in pagan goddesses could be considered to be a daring move, or a foolhardy move (or possibly even blasphemous!) but audiences were used to Hollywood’s propensity for hopelessly jumbling up every subject it touched. It does make the plot completely absurd but it’s pretty absurd to begin with. Of course musicals have no need whatever for coherent plots so really it doesn’t matter at all.
Terpsichore manages, with great ease, to convince the show’s producer and star Danny Miller to cast her in the lead, as Terpsichore. She renames herself Kitty Pendleton and acquires kindly rather scatter-brained low-rent agent Max Corkle (James Gleason).
Terpsichore also arouses the hostility of Danny’s buddy and co-star Eddie (Marc Platt) although I must confess I have no idea why except that presumably it was felt that this hostility would add some spice to the story.
The songs are not all that fantastic. At best they’re adequate.
I’m not quite sure about Larry Parks. He’s not terrible, he’s an adequate enough leading man, he just doesn’t seem to have any real charisma. The chemistry with Hayworth is perhaps not all it could be.
Roland Culver takes over the rôle of Mr Jordan (played by Claude Rains in Here Comes Mr Jordan) and he does a fine job. Edward Everett Horton adds some fun (as he invariably does) as the ever-pessimistic heavenly messenger 7013.
The one massive selling point of this movie is Rita Hayworth. She looks gorgeous and her performance sparkles. She gets to do plenty of dancing and she gets to do some actual acting and she does both with style.
Down to Earth does at times get a bit ambitious, venturing into the dangerous waters of satire. It tries, in a low-key way, to satirise the vulgarity of popular culture and also the pomposity of high culture. Of course since it’s a Hollywood movie we’re never going to doubt that it will come down solidly on the side of enjoyable vulgarity.
The Region 4 DVD which I have is barebones but it’s a nice transfer with vibrant colours.
Down to Earth would have benefited from slightly better songs but overall it’s a fine effort with a touching love story and with Rita Hayworth in fine form. Harmless, lightweight but entertaining. Recommended.