August 30, 2010
by Monty Hawes
of All Good Things
I was trying to think of a good blog about Ann to write when I finally settled on the first film I saw with Ann. This will be kind of a two for one because I really can't remember the details of the first Ann film I saw, but I definitely remember the second. Anyway it was around the late 80's I believe and I was 16 or 17 and WTBS (the station started by Ted Turner, which would eventually lead the way for TCM) was showing Kings Row, co-starring Ronald Reagan. Well the plot line of this film intrigued me, so I wanted to watch it. But I was being constantly bothered while it was on. If it wasn't my mom, it was one of my three younger sisters. And plus it was being aired with commercials. But the real kicker was the way the film was presented. I don't know how many people remember the idea of Ted Turner wanted to make classic movies more presentable to newer fans. And he okayed the horrible decision of colorizing older films. It may have been a good idea in theory, but it was disaster when it was actually done. The color was garish on every classic film that his company touched. And since he owned the MGM library, that's a lot. Kings Row was one of the films he put his hand on and it made for a horrible viewing experience. Like I said I can't remember much about the film other than it was the first film I saw Ann Sheridan perform in. So it's noteworthy in that regard, but I need to watch it again. This time in it's original presentation.
Now the first Ann film that I truly remember watching would be the comedy I Was A Male War Bride with my favorite actor, Cary Grant. It aired on AMC, when that station showed movies with no commercials. I remember enjoying myself immensely while watching this film and fell immediately in love with Ann. At the time my favorite leading ladies were the big veterans like Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, Olivia de Havilland, Marilyn Monroe, etc. So when Ann came along, she was a breath of fresh air to me. Her performance as Lt. Catherine Gates was a delight, and she more than held her own with the indomitable Cary. After viewing Male War Bride, I assumed Ann was a regular comedic performer, but didn't find out until later, that other than a few select comedies such as The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Dough Girls, Ann was regularly featured in melodramas and early gangster yarns. She always handled every performance with expertise, but to this day, I wished she had made more comedies. She was just so fluid and funny and sexy in Male War Bride, that in several scenes, she manages to outshine Mr. Grant. Which was no easy task.
So while Kings Row is widely regarded as Ann's best performance, which I need to see again before I can make that claim, I always think of I Was A Male War Bride as the role which I first saw her in and loved from the very minute she appears on film.