(1961)4Craig ButlerThe Pleasure of His Company is a total trifle, but it's a delicious one. Fluffy, featherweight, and titanically inconsequential, it's also supremely entertaining. Part of the credit certainly goes to the screenplay. If the plot is overly familiar and if the characters are ones we've seen before, they're still written with enough detail to make them individuals. More importantly, they're written with enough wit to make them sparkle, and to make even tired situations seem somehow rather fresh. Director George Seaton also must be given his props, for as the captain at the helm of this ship, he steers it clear of the many dangerous shoals upon which could easily have foundered; indeed, Pleasure is the kind of film where one little misstep in terms of tone and pacing could have been disastrous. But the chief pleasure in Pleasure and the reason it works so well is the suave, charming, and deft performance by its leading man, Fred Astaire. The star floats through the film without ever quite touching the ground, making what could be a rather tiresome or, in certain hands, even odious character into the kind of naughty bon vivant that captures one's imagination and holds onto it tightly throughout. There's also a spirited turn from Debbie Reynolds, a lovely one from Lilli Palmer, and a scene-stealing one from Charlie Ruggles; even Tab Hunter and Gary Merrill are good. Half an hour after Pleasure is over, you may have forgotten what it's about -- but you'll remember you had a fine time.