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Picture Cary Grant sitting at the piano, abstractedly picking a B flat. Suddenly he looks up and sees a grandfather's clock. His face glows. Inspiration at last. He says slowly to himself, but with growing conviction, "like the tick, tick, tock of the stately clock as it stands against the wall." Then he looks out the window. It's raining. Another inspiration. "Like the drip, drip drip of the raindrops when the summer shower is through." Somehow Cary manages to continue unaided by props through "so a voice within me keeps repeating" when Alexis Smith, always present in the crucial moments, floats in through the door as Cary triumphantly sings "you, you, you" and goes into the chorus of "Night and Day." This is the Warner Brothers' penetrating conception of how Cole Porter, on whose life the picture is debased, wrote his famous song.
But don't judge "Night and Day" by this scene alone. The rest of it isn't on quite as high a level. From the opening on the Yale campus with Grant conducting the bulldog song to the end in the Yale Chapel when the Glee Club sings "Night and Day" hymn-like, while Grant and Miss Smith reunite under the trees, the picture is a model of inanity and dullness. The one cause for thanks is that nobody let the Warner Brothers in on the fact that Porter studied music at Harvard.
Buried as it is beneath production numbers as tasteless as they are big, even Porter's music fails to take the curse off "Night and Day." Except for Eve Arden's husky version of "I'm Unlucky at Gambling," a little known example of Porter's sophisticated style, and Mary Martin's classic "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," the songs are better off on the radio or records.
As for Grant and Miss Smith, credit them with not wincing once while mouthing dialogue that would choke Mr. Arbuthnot. Also in the hapless cast are caustic Monty Wooley and warbling Ginny Simms, both of whom work hard and reasonably effectively throughout the film.
Not satisfied with having wrecked the lives of Gershwin and Porter in two tries, Warners is busily at work on the life of Vincent Youmans. No doubt the Youmans opus will make it three for three, the prospect of which makes one long for the good old days when Don Ameche was playing composers for Twentieth Century Fox.
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