Behave Yourself! (1951)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy  |   Release Date - Sep 19, 1951 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Mixing murder and comedy successfully requires a very careful hand, something that is lacking in Behave Yourself. Clearly wishing to be a mixture of Arsenic and Old Lace and The Thin Man, Behave falls far short of its goals. One of the reasons for this is simply its casting. Farley Granger is a good looking leading man and when handled correctly is capable of giving a pleasing comedic performance, but he's no Cary Grant or William Powell, who could naturally fall into this kind of part and through sheer charm and presence make it work. AndShelley Winters, while capable of some very fine acting in the right circumstances, can also easily turn into an annoying and irritating persona, which she does here. George Beck's slipshod direction doesn't give them the guidance they crucially need, nor can he conjure up that difficulty mixture of laughter, suspense and quirkiness that is called for. Beck isn't helped by his self-penned screenplay, which strains far too hard for laughs and ends up falling back on some tired (even for the period) mother-in-law jokes. That said, Behave does have the blessing of a marvelous supporting cast, and the likes of William Demarest, Hans Conreid, Elisha Cook, Jr. and Sheldon Leonard keep the film afloat.