Judge Patrick Naugle is a singin' and dancin' fool!
Our review of One Touch of Venus (1948), published October 14th, 2008, is also available.
Love, passion, and lust…all come to life!
A new Venus statue at a local museum of modern art is getting a lot of attention from the patrons, including stuffy collector Whitelaw Savory (George Gaynes, Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment), who dotes on the stone statue with almost creepy admiration. When Rodney Hatch (Russell Nype, The Stuff), Whitelaw's awkward barber, innocently fits Venus with his fiancé's future engagement ring, he inadvertently unleashes Pandora from her box! The Venus statue (played by Janet Blair, My Sister Eileen) suddenly springs to life and makes her way into the world to wreck havoc on relationships, love, and anything else that has to do with the opposite sex!
1955's NBC telecast of One Touch of Venus is considered the "holy grail" of movie musicals…if you can believe the back of the DVD case. I have my doubts, as the number of people who remember this nearly sixty year old musical is likely few and far between. This production has never been available on any home video in any format until now, and there may be a reason for that. It's not the lost masterpiece some may believe it to be. I'm not going to beat around the bush: One Touch of Venus has aged about as well as a balsa wood deck in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. This 75-minute adaptation creaks along in such a dated fashion it becomes immediately obvious why the film hasn't seen the light of day for nearly sixty years.
One Touch of Venus is old fashioned to the point of being stagnant. The acting is stiff and uninspired, the musical numbers are almost instantly forgettable, and the production values are mediocre. The late Janet Blair plays the goddess Venus with charm and beauty, but little else. Blair was a C-level Hollywood actress who never caught much of a break in the movies, and it isn't hard to see why with her surface level version of Venus. The men fare a little better, including a likable Russell Nype as the nebbish Rodney Hatch (who inadvertently brings the stone Venus statue back to life), and George Gaynes as the uptight Whitelaw Savory (with a name like that, I guess you can't help being a bit stuffy). Gaynes is best remembered as Commandant Erik Lassard in the 1980s Police Academy franchise. It's almost a bit of a shock to see the actor so young and spry here.
One Touch of Venus features songs and a score by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash, and they're almost all entirely forgettable. It could be that back in 1955 songs like "Speak Low" and "That's Him" were toe tapping ditties. In 2014, they're mind-numbing and only serve to slow down an already sluggish plot. The film was directed by George Schaefer, who toiled in movies produced exclusively for television, the last of which was his 1996 made-for-TV version of Harvey starring Harry Anderson. One Touch of Venus is flatly directed with all the trappings of a TV studio budget from the 1950s, including a staged dance between characters that is so slow and lethargic you'd think the dancers could fall asleep at any moment. The sets look like they were hastily built on a soundstage and even the title credit sequence looks like they had some issues putting it together.
If you're a fan of classic Hollywood musicals, it may be worth your time to seek this out. Otherwise, it's hard to recommend, considering how many other classic musicals are available on DVD, including the original 1948 One Touch of Venus starring Ava Gardener, which omitted all of Weill and Nash's musical numbers. This one just feels like a broadcast television footnote.
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame in black and white, this is probably one of the worst transfers I've seen in years, though I'm not convinced it's VAI's fault. One Touch of Venus has clearly been sitting dormant on a shelf some place, and due to the fact there probably wasn't an enormous clamoring for the title, there wasn't a lot of effort put into its restoration. There are a fair number of blemishes and crackles, so be prepared for maximum mediocrity. The Dolby 1.0 Mono audio is almost as lackluster as the video, allowing for decent dialogue, music, and effects work but little else. The only bonus features are some vintage TV promos for the broadcast.
One Touch of Venus is a rather middling mid-'50s musical done on the cheap. Hardcore fans of Hollywood's golden age may find some interest, but everyone else can steer clear.
Remanded back to the vault from which it came.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Video Artists International
• Vintage Promos
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