There Goes the Groom
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RKO's There Goes the Groom (1937) -- which has nothing to do with the 1932 British comedy There Goes the Bride -- is a 65-minute farce most notable for being the film that gave actor Burgess Meredith the chance to show his comic chops. It was only his second movie; his first, Winterset (1936), had been a serious, much-lauded romantic drama.
This time, Meredith plays a young man who strikes it rich in Alaska, returns home in a yacht, and tries to reclaim his high-school sweetheart (Louise Henry), who's in love with a psychiatrist (Onslow Stevens). Henry's wacky mother (Mary Boland), however, pushes her to reconnect with Meredith because their family badly needs the money. Meanwhile, Henry's younger sister (Ann Sothern) actually is in love with Meredith. When Meredith learns the family just wants him for his dough, he pretends to have amnesia so as to avoid marrying Sothern. (The film's working title was Don't Forget to Remember.)
As usual, Mary Boland steals the show whenever she is on screen. The supremely talented and audience-pleasing comedienne specialized in scatterbrained women, and had recently made a great impression in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935). Still to come was a memorable turn in The Women (1939). This was also the third of three films in which Boland played Ann Sothern's on-screen mother, following Melody in Spring (1934) and Danger: Love at Work (1937).
Critics gave There Goes the Groom generally positive marks, with Variety declaring, "the yarn is well-worn around the edges, but ... buoyantly and skillfully acted by each least or large member of the cast... The direction, camera and production are all first-rate. Theatres catering to smart clientele should especially look into There Goes the Groom." Of Meredith's comedic turn, the trade paper said, "The role is completely reversed in tone and type from his Hollywood break-in role in Winterset. Meredith has the same youthful personality in the light part that he has on the hickory boards. And he does his role up brown."
To The New York Times, the film was "an amiable comedy about a scatterbrained ne'er-do-well family presided over by the queen mother of zanies, Mary Boland... May best be described as a cinematic exercise for Burgess Meredith, who dominates the whole affair. His performance, like the film, is occasionally brilliant, but on the whole does not merit more than a polite, indulgent commendation... [He] appears to be more at ease before the camera than he was in the memorable Winterset. His approach is less strained and he seems to have dropped most of his stage mannerisms."
By Jeremy Arnold