Cary Carries the Movie
For those modern movie fans who only know Cary Grant by name he could be classed as the George Clooney of his day, smooth talking and charming he appealed to men and women in equal measure. It's that exact persona that he uses in "Kiss Them for Me" a movie which relies heavily on his likeability to work because quite frankly "Kiss Them for Me" is a rather dull, rudimentary romantic comedy which trudges along with no real energy. And whilst trudging along it also tries to make a statement on how war, in particular WWII, affects the serviceman.
Having blagged 4 days shore leave for him in and his mates, Commander Andy Crewson (Cary Grant - The Pride and the Passion) along with McCann (Ray Walston) and Mississip (Larry Blyden) head off to San Francisco to spend time drinking, partying and womanizing. Along with Lieutenant Wallace (Werner Klemperer) they set up camp in a Hotel filling their room with wine and women. In order to try and extend their leave Wallace tries to secure a series of speeches for the men to give to rally the home front at shipyard magnate Eddie Turnbill's (Leif Erickson) plants. Except instead of keeping his side of the bargain Crewson ends up falling for Turnbill's fiancee Gwinneth Livingston (Suzy Parker).
The thing is with "Kiss Them for Me" is that on one hand it wants to be a romantic comedy and on the other it wants to make a statement about the way those in the forces are affected by war. The blend this time around fails to work so one minute it is coasting along going through a steady stream of romantic comedy then the next it injects a scene about the effects of war causing it to jar. Don't get me wrong as it is admirable for a movie to try and make a comment about how war effects the men who suffer the physical and mental scars of combat, it just doesn't work in a movie which is so obviously set up to be a romantic comedy.
What doesn't help is that the romance and comedy side of "Kiss Them for Me" is rather rudimentary and dull. There are only a few moments of genuine amusement, those which rely on Cary Grant as Andy Crewson to smooth talk his way out of some sticky mess, and as for the romance well it's none existent. As such "Kiss Them for Me" does quite literally trudge along almost going through the motions with a range of scenes which all feel lacking.
But "Kiss Them for Me" has one saving grace and that is Cary Grant whose likeability is played upon to make things entertaining. Once again Cary Grant uses that persona of smooth talking charmer in his role of Andy Crewson and as already mentioned the best bits are where he is talking his way out of a mess. Although the scenes he shares with McCann and Mississip have a sense of comedy thanks to their diverse characters. But even Grant can't make the romantic side of the movie work thanks to Suzy Parker who as Gwinneth Livingston goes for enigmatic but ends up stiff. There is just no chemistry between them making those romantic clinches feel almost awkward.
And of course Suzy Parker is not the only woman in "Kiss Them for Me" as it also features Jayne Mansfield as dumb blonde Alice Kratzner a character which is so over the top it's painful and also left me scratching my head as to why the character was even included as Alice has no real pivotal part to play.
What this all boils down to is that "Kiss Them for Me" is rather a disappointing movie which may have its heart in the right place with its attempts to show the effects of war on those who fight but never pulls it off. It trudges along as a romantic comedy and not even Cary Grant makes it that memorable although without him it would have been totally forgettable.