Mister 880 (1950)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy, Romantic Mystery  |   Release Date - Sep 29, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Anyone who takes Mr. 880 seriously will probably find it to be on shaky moral grounds, which is exactly why one should go out of one's way to not take it seriously. 880 was intended as a piece of fluff, a light and gentle little piece of whimsy, and when viewed as such, it is, simply put, a darlin' little film. Robert Riskin's screenplay floats on air, but it has a nicely solid structure underneath it that just manages to keep it sufficiently grounded. The screenplay is plain likeable, and the characters that inhabit it never fail to engage our interest. The putative leads, Burt Lancaster and Dorothy McGuire, are a fine couple to while away the time with, and it's a delight to see Lancaster in one of his few comedic roles. But the real and undisputed star of the show is Edmund Gwenn, whose performance gives new meaning to "endearing." There's so much sheer charm to the man that one can easily neglect to notice how skillful and precise his acting is. His touch is unerringly right, and that comes as much from talent as from personality. Director Edmund Goulding deserves credit as well, for knowing how to push a scene just so far and no farther, and for knowing exactly how to serve the sweet little bon bon of a comedy. 880 isn't terribly often, so viewers should make a point of catching this fine little film whenever they can.