For the Love of Mary (1948)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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For the Love of Mary gets by as a moderately entertaining mini-musical simply because of the charming presence of Deanna Durbin in what was to be her final film foray. Clearly, the creators were trying to create a romantic screwball comedy of the classic type, but they unfortunately did not seem to realize that, while screwball plots were usually complicated and fairly silly, they were constructed with a keen eye on detail, organization, character and wit. Mary's screenplay lacks all of these, although it does have a number of individual sequences that work and individual lines that provide laughs. But there's no cohesion, and the main "gimmick" -- that the President of the United States would get personally involved in straightening out the love life of a switchboard operator -- is obnoxiously cute and simply too unbelievable. Frederick de Cordova's direction of this material is fine, but it doesn't have enough genuine inspiration to make up for the flaws. Which means that it's up to the cast, and here Mary is quite fortunate. The trio of suitors does very well with parts that are not especially well written, and Harry Davenport is especially good as a Supreme Court justice. But it's Durbin who has to carry the movie, and she does a wonderful job, skipping through the messes of the plot without a care for how silly the whole thing is. And, of course, she sounds wonderful when she sings as well. Pretty much by herself, she makes Mary something really pretty merry.