The Strawberry Blonde Film Details
Overview: Quick-tempered yet likable Biff Grimes falls for the beautiful Virginia Brush, but he is not the only young man in the neighborhood who is smitten with her.
Tagline: Wanting what others have can only be destructive, or is it?
Review: During the golden age of Hollywood, a lot of pictures, especially the romances and musicals, took us back to another golden era – the final years of the 19th century. Not only was this the time in which many of the old guard were in their youth, it happens to be a good era for nostalgia in general. An innocent age before either world war and before the motor car had made the horse obsolete, a world perhaps best summed up by the sweet yet earthy character of its music. The Strawberry Blonde is itself a picture about nostalgia, albeit tinged with regret, as a man goes into a reverie about the friend and the would-be lover who wronged him years earlier. It is no surprise that the screenplay is by the Epstein brothers, Julius and Philip, whose best-known work Casablanca, a story with a very similar mix of regret and fondness for the past. However, with the flashback making up the bulk of its runtime, The Strawberry Blonde is by far the more indulgent of the two. Casablanca lives in the present while The Strawberry Blonde dreams of the past. The director here is Raoul Walsh, who according to the blurb on the back of numerous DVDs was an “action master”. A more extensive look at his pictures though reveals him to be a bit of a romantic, with a real feeling for the warmth and intensity of human relationships. Whereas Warner’s top director Michael Curtiz always emphasised sets and props, all but burying the actors, Walsh does the complete opposite. Take the scene in the bar where Alan Hale is drinking at the start of the flashback – each shot is made almost entirely of people, with folks lining the edge of the frame. It gives it a real cosy effect. Walsh also places us right inside the emotions of a scene by having actors facing the camera. When James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland are reunited towards the end, the opposing shots of them are not at forty-five degree angles to the lens as convention would dictate. Instead they are virtually looking straight out at the audience. And this is a cast worth focusing on. None of the four principle players – Cagney, de Havilland, Rita Hayworth and Jack Carson – are at their very best, but what’s important is that they all seem to be enjoying their roles. Despite being in his 40s at the time, Cagney gives an exuberant portrayal of the younger Biff Grimes, and there is something almost childish in the way he sneers and fidgets his way through his first meeting with de Havilland. De Havilland herself has great fun playing an assertive free-thinker, and while very much against her type she is brilliant at bringing out that saucy flirtatiousness in her character. It’s also nice to see Alan Hale playing a more sympathetic variation on his usual reprobate act, far more satisfying than the slightly villainous roles which for reasons I can’t fathom he often ended up in. There’s also a brief but memorable appearance by the great Una O’Connor. The Strawberry Blonde is by its very nature a movie with a lot of poignancy in it, balanced nicely with its tone of gentle comedy. The only real trouble is that some of the more tender moments are blunted by the punchy pace typical of Warner Brothers pictures, with a few scenes and shots not played out quite as long as they could have been. Still, the picture recovers much of its impact because its emotions are grounded in its atmosphere and its music. While not really a Musical, it is certainly a musical picture with a small “m”. Diagetic music (real music in the film’s world, as opposed to a background score) plays a major part not just in the story but in the construction of a scene – the strains of a band seeming to regulate or underscore every moment. Even what little non-diagetic music there is seems to dovetail from one of the familiar songs. And in the end, it is that magnificent waltz from which the title is derived that has the final word.
Country: United States
Duration: 99 min
Genre: Comedy, Music, Romance
Also known as: La pelirroja,Rudowłosa,Un dimanche après-midi,The Strawberry Blonde,¡Ay qué rubia!,Oh, dat rossige blondje,Roscovana,Uma Loira com Açúcar,Az eper-szőke,Bionda fragola,Клубничная блондинка,Strawberry Blonde,Rivaler på galej,O peirasmos,Uma Loura com Açúcar,One Sunday Afternoon,¡Ay! Qué rubia,いちごブロンド,La blonde framboise,Kızıl Peri,Kilpakosijat juhlimassa,Die Tizianblonde,Schönste der Stadt