Wallflower (1948) – Movie Review

Wallflower is a light and charming comedy made in the late 40’s starring Robert Hutton and Joyce Reynolds. The plot is simple and sweet, and the characters are more than well acted. Though its never been a big hit, it is one that is always a delight to see.

Because of the simplicity of the film I find its one I always come back to when I want something homey to watch. Like this week, for instance, I needed to work out a pattern idea, so I spread my crochet out in front of me and turned this movie on. I love it; I admit it. Here’s my review:

Quick synopsis

Jackie is a smart and intelligent young woman whose subtle beauty is constantly overshadowed by her sister Joy’s, bright personality and striking looks. Though normally fine with this, Jackie decides its time to take some action when she is at risk of losing the man she really loves to her sisters’ charms.

Review

Just out of college, step-sisters Jackie and Joy are returning to their home in Hempstead, Ohio, but miss their plane due to Joy’s “fascination” with men. Though a bit displeased, Jackie is not in the least surprised and quickly makes preparations for tickets on another flight. Joy introduces Jackie to a new friend, Stevie Wilson, who happens to be a pilot and offers to fly them home.

Just seconds after they have arrived Joy already has a date for the afternoon with at least three other men, while Jackie, on the other hand, is just content to admire the beautiful flowers she received from her childhood friend Warren James. When Warren arrives Jackie couldn’t be happier. But when she thanks him for the flowers she realizes that they were for her and Joy and that some mistake was made on the card.

When Warren starts to invite her to the country club dance he’s cut short as Joy enters, already dressed for her swim date. Warren is practically speechless and in the end joins Joy, leaving Jackie alone the basement.

Not too pleased with the turn of events, Jackie spends the afternoon settling back in. She asks her step-mother later on about the card and finds that she was the one who altered it. She told her that Joy didn’t care who she went out with while Warren was the “pick-of-the-lot” and just right for Jackie.

Some days later, on her way home from the library, Jackie runs into Warren just leaving from dropping Joy off. He mentions that he hasn’t seen her lately and she assures him that she will be at the dance that night, even though she knows very well that she won’t.

Mr. Linnett, Jackie and Joy’s father, finds out that Jackie hasn’t been invited to the dance and is perfectly irate. Jackie tries to make her father believe that she doesn’t care but he responds all the more outraged, saying that “his” daughter wasn’t going to stay home while his wife’s daughter went out. In the end, Jackie tells her family that if they can’t get used to the fact of her unpopularity than she would just have to leave.

Warren and his family arrive to take the Linnett’s to the dance, Warren having invited Joy and his parents going with Mr. and Mrs. Linnett. Jackie stays in her room but can’t help overhearing Mrs. James exclamations of pity for her.

Just minutes later, the phone rings but Jackie doesn’t care to answer it knowing they only want Joy. Finally giving in, she hears its Stevie Wilson, the pilot. Suddenly inspired, Jackie plays it up causing Stevie to think she’s someone he hasn’t met. Only too anxious to meet this Joy-act-alike, he arranges a date.

Satisfied with her endeavours, Jackie takes some scissors to her dress and gives herself a whole new look.

Meanwhile, at the party, Warren is still enamoured by Joy and so convinced that he loves her that he proposes, and is quickly turned down. Disappointed and let down, he joins Mr. Linnett at the bar and the two drown their sorrows over women in their drink.

Arriving at the dance, the “new” Jackie takes no time in attracting attention. When Joy spots her she is aghast and not sure what to say about her sisters sudden change.

Eventually she manages to get over her surprise and, in no way jealous at being passed up for her sister, gives her an nudge of encouragement. Inconsequently, Stevie still doesn’t recognize her as the bookish girl he flew home a few weeks before.

Since Warren is her main objective, Jackie leaves Stevie to find another dance partner and finds Warren on the terrace slightly the worse for wear. In his intoxicated state, he tells her that he wants to marry her which, for Jackie, is a dream come true, but she is not willing to talk serious with him in his state and instead proposes they go for a swim.

Hoping the water will sober him up, Jackie takes him to the family’s lake. Of all the horrible pranks, some boys steal their clothes and leave them only their robes. Still not sober, Warren thinks its all fun and games and Jackie has to get them home.

Her misfortune mounts when they are caught on the street without clothes and driver’s license. On top of that, she makes the mistake of mentioning Warren’s inebriation to the officer who finds comes upon them. With nothing left to say, Jackie and Warren spend the night in jail.

With the whole town abuzz with the news and a story on the front page of the newspaper, Mr. Linnett gives Jackie the third degree. Trying the new reputation on for size, Jackie refuses to be daunted by the neighbours rumours and her father’s condescension.

Warren and Jackie’s parents decide the best thing for them to do is elope immediately. Since Warren doesn’t remember anything, he figures their parents suggestions are for the best but Jackie, who alone knows what really happened the night before, takes some time to feel out Warren’s true feelings for her.

She unexpectedly learns that Warren had proposed to Joy the night before and leaves. Finally realizing that he loves Jackie, Warren pushes everyone aside and demands Joy tell him where Jackie is going. He finds out she is headed for New York and throws caution to the wind to find her.

Mr. and Mrs. Linnett, along with Joy and Stevie, follow and ensure Warren gets on the same train. The two find each other in time to grab their luggage and get off.

But even though they have finally found each other, they have also once again been found by the police.

This might be an illogical ending but it fits the comedy. Of course the police wouldn’t arrest them for half the things they seem to in the movies but it often gives the plot a funny twist.

Its the same old story every girl has felt true in her life at one point or another, not being noticed, but this one has a happy ending.

Next week (or possibly the week after) I will post a review of Jumbo (1962). I’m still trying to work things out. I’m not pleased with my reviews. I try to be professional and I end up feeling stiff. Besides that, my reviews are too long. Its so hard to simplify. Especially when its a story I really like. Maybe I like telling other people’s stories a little too much.

Stick around….

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