THE SCOOP... 

What's the only feature film in Hollywood history ever to be narrated by an Academy Award?  You guessed it - Susan Slept Here. After introducing itself, the handsome statuette invites us into the apartment of its owner, screenwriter Mark Christopher (Dick Powell).  Knowing that Powell is working on a script about juvenile delinquency, a couple of policemen on the night beat deposit teenaged troublemaker Susan Landis (Debbie) on Powell's doorstep - just as he's about to go out on the town. Somewhat terrified by Debbie's erratic behavior after having tried an escape from the two cops, Powell vows to keep their relationship platonic as the kid spends Christmas week in his bachelor pad, but his beautiful fiancée Anne Francis comes to suspect the worst.

It soon becomes apparent that Susan is more fun than the stuffy fiancée and its easy to see why Dick Powell falls in love.  Though their age difference initially poses a problem - Susan at 17, Mark at 35 - they fall happily in love - after a bevy of misunderstandings and bumps along the way.

Susan Slept Here was Dick Powell's last starring feature film after more than two decades of stardom - he continued his career behind the scenes from this film on.  During production, Powell at age 50 was a full 28 years older than his leading lady Reynolds, who clocked in at 22 - the same age as 'the older woman' - Anne Francis.  Though the age gap is glaringly obvious and somewhat troublesome, the charm and talent of these great stars shines through and makes Susan a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Loved by the French and dismissed by America, director Frank Tashlin, perhaps most famous for his work on eight Jerry Lewis pictures, isn’t the first name that comes to mind when reflecting on the history of American screen comedy, and yet Tashlin managed to make his cinematic mark.

'Vulgar Modernism' was Tashlin's trademark technique, a term used to define the pop-culture version of modern art’s tendency to pop open the hood and show us what it’s made of. Only instead of a painter letting the raw canvas show through, we get films in which characters like Daffy Duck race through backgrounds that Bugs Bunny, sitting at a drawing board just off-screen, keeps replacing.  Breaking the fourth, fifth and sixth walls, Frank Tashlin’s movies tend to start with one of the stars approaching the camera and saying "Ladies and gentlemen, the motion picture you are about to see....". The First Time, which stars Bob Cummings and Barbara Hale as the thoroughly exhausted parents of a one-year-old, is narrated by the baby. And as mentioned previously, Susan Slept Here, is narrated by Mark Christopher's Oscar for screenwriting (which Debbie attempts to make use of as a nutcracker).

In Susan, Tashlin aims his satiric barbs at psychiatry, conspicuous consumption, and Hollywood itself. The spirited supporting cast also includes Glenda Farrell, Alvy Moore, Horace McMahon.

Academy Award nominations went to Jack Lawrence and Richard Myers in 1955 for Best Song with "Hold My Hand", a musical highlight of the movie and a wildly popular romantic tune performed by Don Cornell, which went on to top the charts.  John Aalberg received an Oscar nod for Best Sound Recording and screenwriter Alex Gottlieb went on to win the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy. 


THE PLAYERS:

Dick Powell ... Mark Christopher

Debbie Reynolds ... Susan Landis

Anne Francis ... Isabella Alexander

Glenda Farrell ... Maude Snodgrass

Alvy Moore ... Virgil

Horace McMahon ... Sergeant Monty Maizel

Herb Vigran ... Sergeant Sam Hanlon

Les Tremayne ... Harvey Butterworth

Mara Lane ... Marilyn, Mark's neighbor

Rita Johnson ... Dr. Raleigh

Maidie Norman ... Georgette, Mark's maid

 

CREDITS:

Producer: Harriet Parsons

Director: Frank Tashlin

Assistant Director: Edward Killy

Cinematographer: Nicholas Musuraca

Writers: Steve Fisher (play), Alex Gottleib

Costume Designer: Michael Woulfe

Makeup Artists: Mel Berns / Larry Germain

Choreographer: Robert Sidney

Distributor: RKO

 

 

Released: June 25, 1954

98 minutes / Color

ADDITIONAL SITES:


 

FEATURED MOVIES OF THE MONTH...

Singin' in the Rain | I Love Melvin | The Gazebo | What's the Matter With Helen? | Susan Slept Here

 

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