Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Lady Says No (1951)

This lame excuse for a battle-of-the-sexes movie does have a couple of funny moments, but overall the script is weak, the dialogue bland and it just doesn't deliver the goods. David Niven and Joan Caulfield star as Bill Shelby, a photographer, and Dorinda Hatch, the author of a best-selling book telling women everywhere just how awful men are. Via a series of contrived situations and the interventions of Dorinda's uncle and aunt, played by James Robertson Justice (complete with atrocious Irish accent) and Frances Bavier, the inevitable happens and they fall in love.

The "battle", as is often the case but rarely as blatantly as here, is massively biased in the woman's favour, and the lack of any real parity between the contestants in this particular battle of the sexes result in a stolid affair that rarely amuses. David Niven's inability to raise any particular enthusiasm for his part is pretty obvious. Lenore Lonergan and one or two others do their best in supporting roles, but The Lady Says No is dead in the water long before the hour mark (the film lasts 80 minutes).

A missed opportunity, this had definite potential to be a lot funnier. As it is, the main interest is for die-hard David Niven fans or for curiosity factor in terms of how similar the plot is to 2003's Down With Love.

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