Back in the winter of 1949, there must have been a shortage of eligible young hotties in New York City. How else to explain the fact that Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) had two single guys battling for her affections even though she wasn’t rich and even worse, had a snot-nosed six year old kid named Timmy?
Connie’s a war widow who works as a harried single mother and comparison shopper for a major department store. Maybe someone out there who lived back in the time when the Earth was still cooling and men still rode dinosaurs to work can tell me exactly what this comparison shopper job is.
The way it looked to me was that Connie would pose as a shopper, buy stuff, and then report back to her overlords about the price. If she was found out by the rival store, she would be banned forever.
I understand all that, but what I don’t get is why she actually has to go through the trouble of actually buying the stuff. Couldn’t she just say, “how much is that electric toy train” and have Robert Mitchum respond “$79.50, ma’am” then go and make her phone call?
Connie buys this train from Mitchum (his cover in this film is Steve Mason, a much studlier name than Connie’s wuss boyfriend, Carl Davis) and takes it home, intending to return it the next day. We meet her punk kid, Timmy when she gets home and it becomes rapidly apparent that he should probably be removed from the home since she refers to him as Mr. Ennis and he calls her Mrs. Ennis and they hug and kiss a lot.
Even though Connie has tried to corrupt her son with her dark desires, he is still a kid at heart and that means one thing around Christmas time – unadulterated greed! He immediately seizes upon the fact that she brought two packages home and she informs him that the big one has to go back to the store the next day.
The big one is the train. The little one is some crappy clothes for Timmy. You can always tell when we’re supposed to feel sorry for some white trash family because they only get crap presents like sweaters and leg braces instead of toys!
Timmy peeks at the train and becomes very sad when Connie tells him that it isn’t for him. I sure hope she wasn’t planning on calling him Mr. Ennis anymore that night!
She runs into Steve Mason again when she attempts to return it and he gets fired from his hotshot job as seasonal help in the toy department because some prune-faced manager found out that he didn’t report her as a comparison shopper like policy says he has to.
One of those quirky, romantic lunches in the park with the seals follows. During this lunch, Connie and us get Steve’s life story.
It involves him wanting to go out to California and build boats. It may have involved more than that, but that was all we needed to see that he was one of those “creative dreamer” types that women moon over.
The movie settles into a series of incidents that have Connie and Steve running into each other again and again. There’s the packages she left with him while they were going comparison shopping together after their lunch in the park.
There’s the time she was meeting him in the park to complain about the train that he bought for Timmy. There’s the time when she runs into him at the police station after he’s accused of rolling a dude in the park.
And then there’s time she meets him at his flop house room to return the money from the train to him that Timmy so dramatically got back from the head of the department store himself!
Through it all safe boyfriend Carl is still milling around actually believing Connie when she tells him that she’ll marry him on New Year’s Day. Did I mention that Timmy hates Carl? But you probably knew that already. Did I mention that Timmy thinks Steve Mason is the coolest guy since Tom Mix? I’ll bet you guessed that as well.
Carl finally throws in the towel after her last encounter with Steve, but I think it wasn’t Steve’s competition that sent him to the showers so much as the fact that he was bummed out that Connie never asked about the big court case he won the week before that was in all the papers. Uh, if it wasn’t the Scopes Monkey Trial, why would anyone care?
There was an obvious lack of chemistry between Mitchum and Leigh that we’ll have to chalk up to Ms. Leigh since Mitchum is the coolest guy in the movies. Even in a girly movie like this, he’s a man’s man, forcing himself on Connie in her kitchen (just giving her a free sample), giving life lessons to young Timmy (always aim higher than what you’re shooting for and you’ll hit the mark!), and giving a speech at Christmas dinner announcing that Connie should marry him and not Carl!
This guy even fed orphaned squirrels in the park, but was so matter of fact about it, he didn’t come off like one of those pansy animal-loving liberals! The rest of the movie was boring with Carl not being any kind of real threat to Steve and with Connie being an indecisive ninny. Mitchum’s presence is the only thing worthy of your attention in this one.
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