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Movie Critique - Having Wonderful Time

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: This is a movie that finds fun and love while glamping with style and an equally enjoyable cast who themselves looked like had super fun. So why not you guys go ahead watch and have fun too! 

Having Wonderful Time is a 1938 American romantic comedy film starring Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in the lead cast among others. Directed by Alfred Santell and Produced by Marc Connelly. 

Thelma "Teddy" Shaw (portrayed by Ginger Rogers) goes to Camp Kare Free for vacation and also to get away from the hustle and bustle of her work and home. She meets Chick Kirkland (portrayed by Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) who is working as a waiter there. They fall in love eventually, but misunderstandings arise when another couple interferes - Miriam "Screwball" (portrayed by Lucille Ball) and Buzzy Ambruster (portrayed by Lee Bowman). What follows is a comedy of errors and budding romances taking flight.

Based on the 1937 play of the same name by Arthur Kober, screenplay was given by Morrie Ryskind and Ernest Pagano, with Kober providing his expert support, especially to change his Jewish characters from the play into regular characters to keep with the censor board.

In a recent movie that I saw, the 1938 The Mad Miss Manton, one of the scene shows a poster of this film on a theater wall as well as the cast names on the marquee. Interesting that a few weeks later TCM aired this film for us to watch and enjoy. The film had quite a few changes from the play to adhere to censor board.

Rogers' Teddy and Fairbanks' Chick are at each other's throats every time they meet. Eventually the fighting turns to romance giving viewers some laughs in between. Their meet-cute may be feisty, but the rest of it all is rosy, happy and sometimes a bit comic fighting in between. Note the names of the lead actors as well - female counterpart has a male-ish name while the male counterpart has female-ish name, adding another layer of humor.

Lucille Ball has a prominent role as one of Teddy's roommates at the camp, Miriam "Screwball". However she doesn’t look anything like the one we know her from "I Love Lucy" show. Even her voice is different. I wonder if someone else dubbed for her in the film. 

This was film debut for Richard "Red" Skelton who portrays the role of Itchy Faulkner, the camp director. Film also includes his iconic "Doughnut Dunkers" routine that he had developed with his wife Edna.

Here is the clip from the film. He does one more such routine in the film and keeps it very entertaining as well.

However, I remember seeing one of his film a while ago, the 1942 slap stick comedy Whistling in Dixie. His comedy in that was very repetitive just like in this one, yet it got a bit bored in that.  In this however he didnt make me bored.

The title of the film is a cliché for usual vacation quotes that people write on back of their letters and cards, and now in emails and under social media posts. The opening credits open with two hands typing on a type writer signifying our heroine's occupation as a typist.

The credits also continue to be printed on a foldable greeting card type card that those two hands continue to open the various flaps and reveal the names. 

The end credits doesn’t have last names of the characters listed, perhaps to abide of censorship objecting for Jewish names.

One scene took me back to my school and college days when I used to commute by bus. Francie (portrayed by Dorothy Tree) and Teddy Shaw are in the Subway and the two men behind them try to flirt with them. And one of the guy tries to feel Francie up her back, and she uses her coat pin to prick him. Which is exactly what me and my friends used to do as well. 

We get first hand view of the Catskills area in New York City which again took me back to memories from 2011 when I had gone there with a bunch of friends had loads of fun doing cabin-ing. The filmmakers definitely garnered a lot of interest in early version of glamping.

It is a very good screen comedy and is generally considered a successful one now. However, when it was first released, it had rendered a loss to the filmmakers. This is a movie that finds fun and love while glamping with style and an equally enjoyable cast who themselves looked like had super fun. So why not you guys go ahead watch and have fun too! 

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. The Broadway play Having Wonderful Time was also remade into a music in 1952 as Wish You Were Here. 

b. Dean Jagger (portraying the role of Charlie, Emma's husband) and Grady Sutton (portraying the role of Gus) also appeared together in the 1954 American holiday musical film White Christmas, a good 16 years later.

c. On the subway, Teddy opens her gift which is a book of essays by Arthur Schopenhauer, the title of the book is unclear though.


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