April 2019 will be an excellent month for Robert Taylor films on Turner Classic Movies. There will be seven, including two showings of Camille. The others are All the Brothers Were Valiant, Ride Vaquero, Valley of the Kings and Waterloo Bridge.
Okay, I Love Melvin isn’t a Robert Taylor movie. It is a fun movie with a delightful cameo by Mr. Taylor.
This film is an absolute delight from the pre-credit sequence where Debbie Reynolds writes the title of the film in lipstick on a mirror to the hilarious chase through Central Park at the end. In between Debbie dreams of becoming a Hollywood star in some magnificently staged dream sequences, thanks to the genius of Cedric Gibbons, in one of which she meets Robert Taylor as Robert Taylor! In another sequence she dances with three dancers in Fred Astaire masks and three in Gene Kelly masks – before winning an Oscar! Great stuff.
Debbie is perfect as both great movie star and girl next door. Her Broadway performance as a football is a riot. Equally good is Donald O’Connor as her lover and aspiring photographer. His roller-skate sequence is brilliant, as is a dance sequence in which he travels the world and plays numerous characters (again thanks to Gibbons). There is great support from Allyn Joslyn, as Debbie’s exasperated father, and from Jim Backus as a crabby photographer. And the little girl has a good song too.
The score is jazzy and upbeat, and it’s great to see the real Central Park and other New York locations, shot in gorgeous technicolor. I think this terrific musical is very under-rated.
Review by David Atfield (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Canberra, Australia for the IMDb.
Trivia: Howard Keel was to have originally been the star in Judy (Debbie Reynolds)’s dream, but Keel and his song “And There You Are” were cut after previews and replaced with a brief scene between Reynolds and ‘Robert Taylor’.