Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Comedy Classics Blogathon: Gene Tierney.

This is my contribution in the Classic Movie Blog Association's Comedy Classics Blogathon. Please click picture on the side bar to read the other CMBA's members contributions..

Gene Tierney, maybe best remembered for her performances in the film noirs: Laura (1944) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945). So, if you are like me you would not think that she would ever perform in a comedy film. Gene Tierney, proved herself to be a actress who could play calm, sweet and innocent characters, with a twist of humor... and she did just that in many of her films in the 1940s and '50s:

Rings on Her Fingers(1942). A very charming comedy starring Henry Fonda and Gene Tierney. Tierney, plays a con-artists who falls for a dreamer who loves sailing. The story become complicated when Tierney wants to return Fonda's life savings after swindling him out of it.. The lively Spring Byington, was the perfect choice playing Tierney's con-artists mother. If you take a little from the films, "Some Like It Hot" and "The Lady Eve" put them together then you have an idea what Rings on Her Fingers is like. One of my favorite scenes is when they are gambling at Tierney's character friends casino and she has it fixed for Fonda's character to win. Of course Fonda thinks he's found a mathematical formula and he becomes very brave at making his bets.

Heaven Can Wait(1943). Cast: Gene Tierney, Don Ameche and Charles Coburn. The supporting cast includes Marjorie Main, Laird Cregar, Spring Byington, Allyn Joslyn, Eugene Pallette, Signe Hasso, Louis Calhern, Tod Andrews, and Clara Blandick. This maybe my favorite of the Gene Tierney comedies, which is about a women, who believes in the man she loves even though he is a Casanova. You will even love the devil in this charming colorful film..

After 70 year old Henry Van Cleve dies, he is sent directly to Hell. There he is greeted by the devil, who wants to know how Henry has earned his way to hell. Henry, begins to tell his story:

Even as a young boy, he is attracted to girls and when he shows little Mary a beetle, she wants him to give her another beetle, Henry realizes, "If you want to win a girl, you have to have lots of beetles."

Henry's family hire Henry, a maid to tutor him in French and the facts of life. When the mother catches on to what's really going on, Grandfather seems proud and whisks the maid out of the house before she causes any more trouble. Henry, continues drinking and womanizing until his twenty-sixth birthday. Henry shares with his mother that he has met the girl of his dreams and wants to marry her, but he does not know her name.

Later, Henry attends a party celebrating the engagement of his cousin Albert and his fiancee, Martha Strabel. Henry, is shocked to see that his cousin's fiancee is the same girl he fell in love with during a chance meeting. The couple elope that night.

Ten years later, on the day before Martha and Henry's anniversary, which is also Henry's thirty-sixth birthday, Henry receives a telegram from Martha, saying that she has left him. Henry follows Martha to her parents home. When Henry arrives, Martha tells him that she knows about Henry's affairs, but he convinces her to forgive him and the couple go on a second honeymoon.

Now, their son Jack has grown into a handsome young man, who has taken up with a chorus girl named Peggy. Henry, goes to visit Peggy and offers her $25,000 to break off her relationship with Jack. What he doesn't know, is that Jack, already has a new girl friend.

That night, at a party celebrating the couple's silver anniversary, Henry learns that Martha is very ill and they dance their last dance together.

Jack, who has become a successful businessman, is not too happy that his widower father stays out late every night returning to his Casanova ways.

On Henry's seventieth birthday, Henry wakes up from a dream about dancing with a beautiful blonde woman, then dies while the beautiful night nurse, is on duty.

After sharing his story, Henry is told by the devil that they do not cater to "his class of people" in Hell and that someone special is waiting for him some place else.

Even though, this is a beautiful story of the women's love for a man from childhood, through old age and even after-death. It is told with a touch of humor and a couple of tears.

The Mating Season(1951). Cast: Gene Tierney, John Lund, Miriam Hopkins, and Thelma Ritter. This well written comedy will brighten your day. Gene Tierney, was at the peak of her beauty when she wore the beautiful gown designed by her then husband famous dress designer, Oleg Cassini.

After, selling her little hamburger stand Ellen McNulty, has nowhere else to go, decides to visit her son Val. Newly married Val, promises his new wife Maggie, a maid to help her around the house. Maggie, has never met Ellen, so when Ellen arrives at the door she mistakes her for the maid. Ellen, decides to go along with the idea and pretends to be a maid. Even though, Val does not think it is a good idea.

Maggie's snobbish mother, decides to also come for a visit and she doesn't care much for Val. While helping Mr. Kalinger, Ellen finds out that his son, Kalinger Jr., is taking credit for all of Val's work and tells Mr. Kalinger the truth.

Mr. Kalinger then invites Val and Maggie to the party and Maggie gets into an heated argument with an important female client. Val, forces Maggie to call her to apologize, but they get into another fight.

Ellen's friends come for a visit and ask to speak to "Mrs. McNulty". At this point "the cat is out of the bag" that Ellen is Val's mother. Maggie, is furious with Val for hiding his mother's identity from her. Val, tries to explain himself but Maggie won't listen and packs her bags.

Mr. Kalinger, convinces Maggie to come to the hotel bar for a good-bye drink, knowing that Val will be also be there. Val brings his mother to the party and begins introducing her to everyone. Causing, Maggie to have a change of heart.

That Wonderful Urge(1948). Cast: Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney. This film, is a remake of.. Love Is News (1937), which starred Power and Loretta Young. The film begins when, Thomas Jefferson Tyler, editor, wants him to write a tabloid type story about the heiress. He follows her on a skiing trip to Sun Valley.

When Sara goes dog sledding with Tom, they have a minor accident and end up in the emergency cabin. Tom shows her a phony, complimentary story he has written about her, Sara feels comfortable enough to share with him her life story. After Tom leaves, Andre shows the real story to Sara. Angry, she tells reporters that she and Tom are married.

Duffy, sees headlines from rival newspapers saying that Tom and Sara are married and he fires Tom. While meeting with Jessica, Tom comes up with an idea about how to prove that he and Sara are not married. When he and Jessica go to apply for a license, the head clerk refuses to issue them one because all the newspapers say that Tom is already married. What follows is classic fun when things spiral out of control..

Our film noir actress Gene Tierney, now finds herself performing in the Musical/comedy, On the Riviera (1951). Dance sequences choreographed and staged by Jack Cole. This was the third film version of the same story. This version stars Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvet with Marcel Dalio, Henri Letondal, Sig Ruman with uncredited featured dancer Gwen Verdon. It was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Music and Best Art Direction Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller, Joseph C. Wright, Thomas Little, Walter M. Scott.

The movie is about Jack Martin, an American entertainer who does impressions on the French Riviera stage. He does an impersonation of Henri Duran, so well that even Duran's wife is fooled by it. When Duran's business takes him to London when he is supposed to be hosting a party at his home, Martin is hired to impersonate Duran at the party. But things take a turn for the funny worse, when Martin is confronted by several of his women and by Duran's business rival, M. Periton.

I'm not really a Kaye fan, but his performance is good in his dual role (he won a Golden Globe award for it). I thought the typical Kaye moment, in the The Puppet dance number, as he mangles names of animals and flowers, was very clever. I also, really enjoyed seeing Gwen Verdon dance numbers.


The painting of Gene Tierney over the fireplace is, the famous portrait of her from the black-and-white noir classic Laura (1944). It is the only opportunity to see the legendary painting in color.


  1. Dawn, this is a marvelous look at Gene Tierney's comedies. I'm sure you'll create many new fans for the films and a greater appreciation for Gene's versatility. That such a beauty can be so funny, touching and flippant may surprise some folks. I know that I haven't seen some of these films in many years and now I can't wait to add them to my must-see list.

  2. Dawn,
    I'm glad you chose this opportunity to shine a spotlight on Tierney's comedic roles! You're so right about her being remembered for Laura and Leave Her to Heaven.

    I enjoyed Gene and Tyrone pairing together for That Wonderful Urge although the original was very good. (there's something about Loretta that I just love. Both beautiful women though)

    On the Riviera was a nice film, and with Danny Kaye you can never go wrong. I just think the script was a bit weak, a shame.

    I had forgotten just how beautiful Gene was in color! To have that milky white complexion. Great stills and info on Gene.
    Well Done!

  3. Dawn - great look at how much more ther is to Gene Tierney. Slinky and sexy, she is also cute and funny. SHe is so much more talented than given credit for - a great post and a reminder of some delightful and funny films. The Mating Season is by far my favorite!

  4. Dawn, you are right about people forgetting that Tierney could do comedy. I found The Mating Season and Heaven Can Wait to be really funny. Ameche and Ritter make both of those films for me, but Tierney is also good. Nice profile of her comedy work.

  5. Gene Tierney can do no wrong. She's remembered for her dramas, but I never realized how many comedies she was in. "The Mating Season" sounds like a good one. I look forward to seeking it out.

  6. Dawn ~ you are correct to say that when I think I Gene Tierney, I rarely think of her as a comedic actress. Your wonderful post has reminded me of the great films in which I have seen her playing funny and touching characters: “Heaven Can Wait”; “The Mating Season”; and “On The Riviera.” I agree that Danny Kaye is not one of my favorite actors, but I enjoyed catching a glimpse of the “Laura” portrait in her character’s home. Thank you for including the video of “Rings On Her Fingers,” and I’ll keep an eye out for the remaining films.

  7. Dawn, I can't believe I've never seen THE MATING SEASON nor THAT WONDERFUL URGE...and I'm a Gene Tierney fan! These are definitely two films I'll looking for based on your reviews. I never really considered Gene Tierney a comedienne, but her comedy successes reinforce that a good performer can play any role (something she proved in spades in my favorite of her performances in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN).

  8. Dawn - You've done Gene Tierney a great service by spotlighting her comedy films and reminding the world she had more than one facet as an actress. Like most I tend to think of her as a noir specialist, primarily because her best know films today are "Laura" and "Leave Her to Heaven" (and there's that guilty pleasure of mine, "The Shanghai Gesture"). I haven't seen very many of the films you mention - and I'm especially interested in seeing "Rings on Her Fingers" - which does sound a lot like (ahem) "The Lady Eve." Great idea for the comedy blogathon - and great work, Dawn!

  9. Dawn, you've done something truly original for the blogathon by pointing out that the actress known for her film noirs, especially with Otto Preminger, was good at comedy too. Most of these I haven't seen ("On the Riviera" was so long ago I barely remember it--not a fan of Danny Kaye either, although I did enjoy him a lot in "The Court Jester," which I watched last week). But I have seen the wonderful "Heaven Can Wait," and I'm constantly singing the praises of "The Mating Season." Also liked your post because the photos reminded me of what an ethereally beautiful woman she was.

  10. Wow..excellent post Dawn. I have only seen Heaven Can Wait and The Mating Season, so I'm looking forward to see Gene's other comedies. She had a natural flair for comedy too. Glad she did quite a few of them.

  11. Thank you everyone for stopping by with your wonderful and thoughtful comments. I always thought Gene was one of the screen’s greatest beauties and most talented actresses.

  12. Hi Dawn, I love Gene Tierney and think everyone should be required to watch "Heaven Can Wait." It's a terrific film. I'm also a fan of "The Mating Season" and am glad you recognized it. I'll have to look for the others so I can continue my lovefest with Gene :)

  13. Classicfilmboy, Thank you for stopping by. Last year.. I went on a Gene Tierney, movie fest and collected all of her movies that were out on DVD. TCM, does not play her movies enough for me. :)

  14. Dawn, I always knew Gene Tierney had her funny side, so I'm delighted that you're covering her comedies. That said, I've never caught up with THE MATING SEASON, and I'd sure like to! I'm especially pleased to see the comical side of Laird Cregar in HEAVEN CAN WAIT and RINGS ON HER FINGERS -- we love us some Laird Cregar! I'm also delighted to see my hero Danny Kaye given a little love in ON THE RIVIERA; it may not be perfect, but it's still plenty of fun, and by golly, I'm tired of Danny Kaye being dissed by folks who've probably never seen a Danny Kaye movie in their lives! This must change, STAT! Anyway, I enjoyed your blog, and I'm glad to see you saluting another side of Gene Tierney!

  15. I'm also a huge Laird Cregar fan. Loved him in the films: "Blood and Sand", "This Gun for Hire" and The "Black Swan". I hope you get a chance to see the film, "The Mating Season", I think that you will enjoy it very much. Danny Kaye, did have a very cute scene in the film, "On The Riviera.”


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