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Monday, March 2, 2015

'Adventure in Baltimore' DVD: Turn-of-the-Century Shirley Temple Learns Price of Suffragette City

Adventure In Baltimore
These thoughts regarding the Warner Archive DVD release of the 1949 Shirley Temple screwball comedy "Adventure in Baltimore" is the second of two reviews of these releases. A post on the 1947 screwball romantic comedy "Honeymoon" is online.

Temple is well cast as sassy and spunky 1905 free-thinker/suffragist Dinah Sheldon whose liberal views and outspoken manner get her expelled from a school that is designed to teach girls the skills necessary to become refined ladies who are marriage material. This parting of the ways results in Dinah returning to live with her loving and supportive family in the titular city.

The following clip, courtesy of Archive and YouTube, of the thetrical trailer for "Adventure" awesomely includes glimpses of many of the best moments in the film.

Classic sitcom dad Robert Young plays Pastor Andrew Shelton with all the warmth, humor, and patience that he devotes to playing Jim Anderson on "Father Knows Best." One difference is that anyone who dares to call Dinah Princess or Kitten runs a risk of being pummeled.

Archive reminds us on the back cover of the release that this is the second film pairing of Temple and Young. This note includes the equally relevant observation that these stars retain the on-screen chemistry that they demonstrate 13 years earlier in "Stowaway."

Episcopalian minister Andrew being a strong candidate for a promotion to bishop at the same time that Dinah begins stirring up trouble in the community propels a great deal of the action. This includes the soul searching by Andrew related to watching Dinah hold to her convictions.

Dinah regularly inadvertently stirring up trouble for attractively thick in body and mind boy next door Tom Wade, played by John Agar, provides the broader comedy.

The awesome on-screen chemistry between Temple and Agar relates to their effectively still being real-life newlyweds when filming "Adventure." This film in general (and one scene in particular) also strongly indicates who wears the pants in the marriage.

A very nice thing about the Dinah/Tom dynamic is that the theme of the adorable woman constantly getting her love interest in embarrassing situations is incredibly charming and sweet. This is in contrast to more modern fare in which the likes of Helen Hunt and Julia Roberts gleefully abuse their men and then flash a coy smile to get a big laugh.

The indignities that Tom suffers at the hands of Dinah include being tricked into promoting her agenda and obtaining the reward of severe public humiliation as thanks for allowing her to coerce him into posing for a portrait. The scenes (and similar ones) show that he may be Tarzan but that Jane is boss.

The aforementioned interaction between Temple and her co-stars and the general tone of this film nicely remind us that Temple truly is special and that her movies easily pass the test of time.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Adventure" is welcome to email me; you alternatively can connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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