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Room For One More

My quest to watch Cary Grant movies I’ve never seen before continues.  Thanks to Warner’s awesome “Warner Archives” project (more about that in a bit) I was finally able to see Room For One More, a 1952 film co-starring Cary’s then-wife Betsy Drake.

I don’t recall ever seeing Room For One More on TCM’s schedule or anywhere else on TV for that matter, which is a shame because it’s really good!  A funny, touching family comedy/drama with fine performances by Grant and Drake, as well as the child actors.

I love seeing Cary in harried father roles like this one, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and Houseboat.  He’s so much fun to watch with children, and he enjoyed working with them.  Some critics look down their noses at the roles he took in the late ’40s and early ’50s, between his early screwball comedy phase and his later Hitchcock phase, but there’s some good stuff there.  The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer always gets short shrift, for instance, but I think it’s hilarious.  Maybe not a masterpiece like Bringing Up Baby or North by Northwest, but lots of fun.

Grant is great as a husband and father in this movie – always a little crabby and put-upon, frustrated with the shenanigans of his wife and kids but loving and warm at heart.  Also still frisky with his wife, who sadly has little time for all that, what with taking care of a houseful of children and pets.  (What is she, nuts?  You  make the time for Cary!  Heh.) 

Betsy Drake is the best part of Room For One More.  She gives a lovely, tender, funny performance as a woman whose heart is too big to let her turn anyone in need away, from stray neighborhood animals to a couple of “problem children” in desperate need of a stable foster home.  You just love her, and you can see why Cary’s character loves her too, in spite of how exasperated he gets with his overflowing house and emptying wallet.  Grant and Drake have a comfortable, loving chemistry together.  Sometimes real life couples don’t have much onscreen spark, but they do.

Very, very sweet movie.  Kind of corny in a wholesome 1950s way, but it has a good, uplifting message about giving of yourself and about what really makes a family.  It’s a lot of fun too, and has some laugh out loud moments.  Track it down if you can! 

Back to the Warner Archives.  Warner has a huge library of movies from Warner Bros., MGM, and RKO, many more than they can quickly mass produce and market, so they came up with the fantastic idea of opening up their vaults and letting people order movies, either by online download or on DVDs created on demand.  There’s an article about it here.  An excerpt:

The consumer who visits www.warnerarchive.com initially will find 150 classic titles from Warner Bros. Pictures, MGM and RKO that each can be ordered either as a computer download ($14.95) or as a DVD ($19.95) that arrives in the mailbox approximately five days after purchase.

The studio says it intends to bolster that list at the rate of 20 new titles a month — including TV series and TV movies. Many of the movies and shows were once available on video cassette, but none has been on DVD, and many others have never been available for purchase at all.

What a brilliant idea!  It’s so frustrating to want to see something and have to wait for studios to decide when and if it’s time to release it.  I got DVDs of both Room For One More and Mr. Lucky through the archives.  The DVDs don’t have fancy menus or any extra features, but it’s really the film that matters and the quality of those seems to be good. 

Hopefully other studios will follow Warner’s example.  Just imagine all the thousands of little seen but fondly remembered movies out there to be watched! 

(Tops on my “please come out on DVD soon” list:  Midnight Lace starring Doris Day and Rex Harrison, Margie starring Jeanne Crain, Every Girl Should Be Married starring Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, and Dear Heart starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page.)

It makes me sort of giddy to think about all the good old movies still waiting to be seen.  Especially considering that the people who made films in the days before TV arrived and started running old movies had no idea there would still be an audience for their work fifty, sixty or seventy years later.  They thought they were making movies that would be seen for a few months then be forgotten, but here we are decades later, still enjoying them.  I think that’s pretty neat.

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