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A little bit Romancing the Stone (1984), part It Happened One Night (1934), Without Reservations (1946) is about a best-selling novelist who meets a real life version of her fictitious hero. Claudette Colbert plays the writer, en route to Hollywood to oversee her novel's film adaptation. While on the train, she meets up with Marines John Wayne and Don DeFore, who unaware of her identity, point out the holes in her book. The trio is eventually kicked off the train, Colbert revisiting her It Happened One Night road trip shenanigans.
The film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy, who racked up such varied credits as the Busby Berkeley musical Gold Diggers of 1933, wartime drama Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) and epic Quo Vadis (1951), during his fifty years in Hollywood. Joining LeRoy on Without Reservations was his cousin, and one time brother-in-law of Samuel Goldwyn, producer Jesse Lasky. Lasky's Feature Play Company, formed in 1913 with friend Cecil B. DeMille, would merge with several companies, eventually evolving into Paramount.
LeRoy befriended John Wayne during the filming of Without Reservations and went on to assist the Duke in his first directorial effort The Green Berets (1968). Colbert also made an impact on Leroy while working on Without Reservations. He would later refer to her as an interesting lady to work with, recalling her habit of not watching where she was going and constantly bumping into things. He also recalls Colbert's belief that the left side of her face was her good side and how every shot in the film had to be arranged so the star's favored side was captured.
LeRoy's tinsel town connections made for a few interesting cameos in Without Reservations. Look for Jack Benny as an autograph seeker in the train station. Louella Parsons plays a Hollywood radio gossiper. Cary Grant also appears for a dance sequence. Apparently Grant walked by the set one day during filming and LeRoy asked him to come in. Even the director himself makes an on-screen appearance, dining with Colbert.
And be sure to listen for Colbert's famous line towards the end of the film, "Thanks, God, I'll take it from here." The line was actually a familiar prayer used by aviators after a particularly heated engagement. It was also the title of the book, by Jane Allen and Mae Livingston, on which Without Reservations was based.
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Producer: Jesse L. Lasky, Walter MacEwen
Screenplay: Andrew Solt, based on the novel by Jane Allen and Mae Livingston
Cinematography: Milton R. Krasner
Editor: Jack Ruggiero
Art Direction: Ralph Berger, Albert S. D'Agostino
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Claudette Colbert (Christopher 'Kit' Madden), John Wayne (Rusty Thomas), Don DeFore (Dink Watson), Anne Triola (Consuela 'Connie' Callahan), Phil Brown (Soldier), Frank Puglia (Ortega).
BW-101m. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames