Monday, March 24, 2008

Cash McCall (1960)

On the surface it doesn't seem that Cash McCall has very much to offer, but it really is a fairly charming little picture. James Garner plays the title character, a very rich businessman who buys up companies, whips them into shape, then turns around and sells them for a profit. Dean Jagger is Grant Austen, owner of Austen Plastics. Grant is getting older, and has decided to sell his company. He thinks it over, discusses it with his consultant Gil Clark (Henry Jones) as well as his daughter Lory (Natalie Wood). Gil tells him that he might have a buyer, and thinks he can get two million for the company. The buyer turns out to be none other than Cash McCall.

Austen and McCall set up a meeting, and Grant asks Lory to come along since she owns 10% of the company. It is now that we learn that Cash and Lory are previously acquainted, and Lory seems to be holding some great animosity towards Cash. Turns out Lory and Cash met one another the previous summer in Maine, Lory had fallen in love with Cash but he rejected her. While Grant is off calling his lawyer, Cash tries to explain that he had made terrible mistake in Maine and that he is in love with her, but she won't listen and storms off.

The sale goes as planned, and Cash is finally able to tell Lory his true feelings for her, but it's not smooth sailing yet. Since Cash is a very wealthy and rather famous businessman (think today’s Donald Trump), there are a lot of dirty rumors going around and a lot of people who want to destroy his credibility. One of these men meets up with Grant Austen, and informs him that Cash has already sold his company for three million, and that he has been ripped off. This sends Grant into a tirade, threatening lawsuit against Cash for fraud. There is also the assistant manager of the hotel in which Cash lives. This woman, a Mrs. Kennard (Nina Foch), is in love with Cash and a very jealous woman.

Cash and Lory have now been seeing each other for a little while now, and Cash has just proposed. Lory is overwhelmed, and of course accepts his proposal. Cash must rush to a business meeting, and leaves Lory at the hotel to wait for him to return. Unfortunately, word has gotten to Mrs. Kennard that there is a woman in Cash’s room. Since she thinks Cash loves her, this sends her into a jealous rage. She rushes up to Cash’s room and feeds Lory some BS story, which sends Lory home in tears.

So now Cash has two problems with the same family. Grant thinks he's been screwed, and Lory thinks he's been screwing around. Cash now must explain to Grant that he’s been on the level, and the only reason he wanted to buy his company was so he could get in contact with Lory whom he is in love with. He also must explain to Lory that there is no other woman, and the blonde is just the crazy hotel assistant manager. Of course he is able to smooth everything out just in time for the classic Hollywood happy ending.

Sure Cash McCall is a cheesy movie, but sometimes that’s OK. The characters are interesting enough, and James Garner puts in a good performance. Also be on the lookout for Edward Platt who plays Harrison Glenn, one of Cash's business associates. I did feel, unfortunately, that Natalie Wood seemed uninspired in the role. I have seen the majority of her films, and feel that she gave one of her weaker performances in this one; also the Barbara Bush hairstyle was less that becoming but that's just my personal opinion. I think Cash McCall is worth seeing, just take it for what it is, a charming yet cheesy slice out of 1950's pop culture. Overall 2.5/4 Stars Grade = C+

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