Saturday, April 08, 2017

A Sentimental Journey

People watch movies at different times and for different reasons.

And when I was a boy, it seemed that there was always something to be seen at the movies that would fit whatever mood you were in — whether you wanted to learn something or feel inspired or hear some catchy tunes ... or be amorous.

It seems less that way now to me. People don't seem to care as much about those things today as they do about splashy special effects, but human nature always seems to crave the same things — moreso for some at certain stages of life, I suppose — and the progression of the generations does not change that.

(As a writer, I like a good story, regardless of the setting.)

Sometimes you want to see a movie that will make you feel good, and in the months and years following World War II, America seems to have wanted to feel good again when it went to the movie theaters.

If that is what people were looking for when "It Happened in Brooklyn" premiered 70 years ago yesterday, they weren't disappointed.

Frank Sinatra played a returning veteran who had built up Brooklyn in his mind to heights it could never possibly reach. No place could, and Brooklyn failed to live up to the buildup. It was a disappointment for him.

Well, everyone has problems.

Sinatra's buddy, played by Peter Lawford, followed him to the States from England in hopes of overcoming an extreme case of shyness. Lawford, as it turned out, was heir to a dukedom back in merry old England, but the journey to America seemed to be just the thing to bring him out of his shell.

If not, then love interest Kathryn Grayson could be.

That might be enough to make the plot thicken since Grayson was originally Sinatra's love interest — but, you see, the movie was really about how all these characters tried to launch careers in something other than the humdrum routine work they were doing.

Sinatra moved in with an old friend, played by Jimmy Durante (for whom the movie production was halted for a week and a half so he could finish work on another movie), and went to work as a shipping clerk, but he wanted to be — guess what? — a singer, and that dream was shown to come true. There's a surprise, huh?

In fact, nearly every dream in the movie did come true. Grayson, who was a schoolteacher, dreamed of being an opera star. That was a dream that was not shown coming true — but, with her relationship with a duke–to–be, the audience could presume that her dream came true as well.

It wasn't exactly a classic, and you can probably guess everything that is going to happen before it happens, but "It Happened in Brooklyn" is still fun to watch.

Oscar–winning pianist and composer André Previn played the piano solos in the movie.