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Monday, 3 December 2012

Classic Film Review: Kiss Them For Me (1957)

Kiss Them For Me is the tale of three decorated Navy pilots who wangle some leave in San Francisco and try to make it last as long as possible by getting some other 'war work'. Crewson (Cary Grant), McCann (Ray Walston) and Mississip (Larry Blyden) are very different men but all are likeable in their own way. They come across various characters including Alice Kratzner (Jayne Mansfield) who has vowed to kiss every member of the forces she sees and Gwinneth Livingston (Suzy Parker), an engaged woman who Crewson likes the moment he sees.

Perhaps the main problem with this film is that it can't decide what it's supposed to be. On the one hand, it's a light comedy with the boys trying to avoid going back to war but, on the other, there are some deeper moments that depict the realities of war. Case in point: while out with Gwinneth, Crewson encounters an old friend he knew who was invalided out. The man's so thin and decrepit that Crewson doesn't recognise him and only has weeks to live. This scene doesn't sit well with the amusing ones that precede it - and it's not an isolated occurrence.

I have to say, Jayne Mansfield's character got a tad grating at times, though she was better when paired with Walston's married McCann, who is hoping to win an election and is in constant contact with his wife, than with Grant's Crewson. Equally, although Suzy Parker began the film in good form, she didn't work as the woman who speedily fell in love. The aloof persona she adopted so well in the early scenes (and the reason I warmed to her) disintegrates as she's forced to indulge in a typical Hollywood romance. My favourite performance ended up coming from Ray Walston (whose next film would be the excellent South Pacific) whose likeability shone through a difficult script.

This is not an excellent film, though I suspect it suffered from being badly adapted. However, there are several amusing moments (if you want to watch it on that level) and several more serious ones (if you want to watch it on another). Some of the dialogue feels preachy and some of it gets too slangy than necessary but, overall, a decent film to waste some time with.

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