DOWN TO EARTH (1947)
Article 1853 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-11-2006
Posting Date: 9-8-2006
Directed by Alexander Hall
Featuring Rita Hayworth, Larry Parks, Mark Platt
Angry about the production of a play that paints her as a trollop, Terpsichore comes down to earth from Parnassus (with the help of Mr. Jordan) and attempts to force the writer of the play to make it more accurate.
How I wish this movie wasn’t connected in any way with the sublime HERE COMES MR. JORDAN ; maybe I’d be able to judge it a little nicer on its own rather fluffy terms. I’d also be spared from the embarassment of seeing some of my favorite characters misused, paritcularly that of Max Corkle. James Gleason was truly hilarious in that role in the original film; here he tries desperately to play up the humor in some truly bad comic dialogue, and rather than laughing, I find myself just feeling sorry for him. The movie occasionally has a moment that works for me; the opening musical number is so intentionally awful (the character of Terpsichore sings “I put the ants in the pants of the dancers”) that I fully understand why Terpsichore would want to deep-six the production. Still, the whole plot is so devoid of real soul that I found myself not caring one whit about any of the characters or their fates, and this becomes a major problem when the movie tries to get all dark and serious in the second half (with a subplot involving gambling debts, suicide notes and gangsters). The presence of some of my favorite comic actors (Gleason and Edward Everett Horton) fails to appease me at all due to the lameness of their bits, and George Macready is wasted in a role that shouldn’t even be in the story. Sure, Rita Hayworth is lovely, and its rating of 6.2 on IMDB does indicate that the movie does have its advocates, but as far as I’m concerned, the only positive thing I can say about this one is that it didn’t besmirch the career of Claude Rains, thanks to his not reprising his role of Mr. Jordan here.
Amazingly enough, this movie was remade in 1980 as XANADU, with Olivia Newton-John, roller-skating and disco added to the mix. I gather that these elements were supposed to improve the movie. Still, gathering from how I feel about the original version here, maybe they did. I’ll know when I see it.