MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID (1948)
Article #1382 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-26-2004
Posting Date: 5-25-2005
Directed by Irving Pichel
Featuring William Powell, Ann Blyth, Irene Harvey
A man coming to terms with his having reached the age of fifty catches a mermaid and falls in love with her, to the frustration of his wife.
Most of the movies about mermaids that I’ve seen aspire to be comedies, and I think this is because a mermaid is one of the sillier mythological creatures. If this one is aspiring to be a comedy, it’s not a good one; outside of the usual gags about people talking about mermaids and other people thinking they’re crazy, the only real humor here is a running joke involving a man who has just given up smoking and drinking. Still, I don’t think this is meant to be a comedy but a drama; the problem I have with it is that it is too subdued to be really effective as either one or the other. It does have a definite theme; Mr. Peabody’s attempt to cope with his aging has a fair amount of substance to it. Unfortunately, the movie fails to make this theme very compelling to me, but that may be a matter of age; as the psychiatrist puts it at one point in the movie, it’s useless discussing these issues with someone who is too young, and since I’m still a few years short of fifty, there is a chance that I simply won’t get it for a few years. Right now I find this one rather dullish, but with a few good things about it. Ann Blyth is extremely attractive as one of the two title characters (you decide which one), and the best scene in the movie is her underwater dance after she overhears Mr. Peabody admitting that he loves her. In fact, I like the mermaid special effects throughout the movie. Maybe I’ll watch it again when I hit fifty.