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"Once Upon a Honeymoon"

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"Once Upon a Honeymoon"

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Character's Name: Pat O'Toole
Release Date:  November 27, 1942
Director: Leo McCarey
Studio:  RKO Radio
Running Time: 116 minutes

Cast: Cary Grant (Pat O'Toole), Ginger Rogers (Katie O'Hara), Walter Slezak (Baron Von Luber), Albert Dekker (LeBlanc), Albert Basserman (Borelski), Ferike Borow (Elsa), Harry Shannon (Cumberland), John Banner (Kleinoch)

- by ZoŽ Shaw
Pat is a radio correspondent, covering Europe in 1938, when he meets Kate. She is married to Baron Von Luber, an Austrian who is a Nazi secret agent. Pat falls in love with Kate, whilst trying to expose the Baron as an agent.

- by Donna Moore
Set in 1938, Ginger Rogers is a burlesque queen from New York, passing herself off as a socialite from Philadelphia. She is about to get married to an Austrian baron who is suspected of being a Nazi. Cary Grant is the news commentator sent to get an interview with her to try and find out about the baron.

She thinks the baron is saving countries, in actual fact he is helping Hitler to conquer them. Their honeymoon is spent going round the countries Hitler subsequently invades. "My husband is a jinx. Every time we go to a new country it falls," muses Ginger. Eventually she realizes that her husband is a Nazi and escapes with Cary Grant. The film follows their escapades all over Europe and beyond....

The film is full of propaganda and sometimes the comedy fails since the subject is so serious. Nevertheless, Cary is as gorgeous as ever and Ginger Rogers is a great co-star.

VARIETY Film Review - November 4, 1942
by "Walt"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Projected against European war background, with a mixture of drama and adult comedy-romance, 'Once Upon a Honeymoon' is geared for strong biz as topline attraction - with Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant bright marquee voltage.

Producer-director Leo McCarey develops hit tale at a decidedly slow pace, and despite the overlength footage, succeeds in holding attention most of the way through.  Particularly deft is the maneuvering of Miss Rogers and Grant, with both smacking over topnotch performances to add much in holding attention.

Story picks up Miss Rogers as a naive golddigger and former stripper from Flatbush in Vienna on the eve of her wedding to influential Nazi, Walter Slezak.  Grant, American war correspondent, meets her and falls in love, following the honeymooning couple through eastern Europe until he convinces Miss Rogers her husband is Hitler's finger man.  She ditches Slezak, after Warsaw bombing, to escape with Grant through Scandinavian countries and eventually land in France where pair team up with Albert Dekker, American espionage agent in on confidential Nazi information.  Pair hop a ship for America, with Slezak disposed of en route for the final clinch.

In deliberately focusing attention on Miss Rogers and Grant, McCarey spent much time on development of incidents, with result that there's an overload of dialog and too much footage devoted to secondary sequences.  Even with these drawbacks, picture holds together in good shape, and McCarey has done much with what might otherwise have emerged as a fragile yarn.

Starring combo of Miss Rogers and Grant provides pair of sterling performances that do much to carry the extended and intimate tale through its lengthy unreeling.  Excellent support is provided by Slezak, Dekker, Albert Basserman, and Ferike Boros.  Picture is mounted in suitable 'A' fashion, with brief newsreel clips inserted at various points to establish European locales during early days of Nazi conquest.  

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - November 13, 1942
by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
Leo McCarey is a brilliant director, and Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant are talented stars. But their "Once Upon a Honeymoon," which came yesterday to the Radio City Music Hall, does not do particular credit to any one of the three - least of all to Mr. McCarey, who helped write as well as produce and direct it. For this time the versatile gentleman, who has proved his capabilities in several styles, has made the fatal error of mixing romantic comedy with a theme which is essentially tragic and far from frivolous.

His story - in itself rather hackneyed - concerns an American ex-strip tease artiste who marries an undercover Nazi in Vienna back in 1938 simply because she is digging wherever she thinks there is gold. Then along comes an American reporter who patiently reveals to her that her husband is a fingerman for Hitler, that every country he goes to is very soon Goebbeled up. In Warsaw, after the Luftwaffe strikes it, Miss America and the reporter join forces, jump around through Norway, Holland and Belgium and finally arrive in Nazified Paris, where they do a bit of obscure sabotaging and then cut loose for home.

Even without any particular emphasis the imposition of a breezy romance upon a background of Europe in torture would be in markedly dubious taste. The spectacle of Mr. Grant and Miss Rogers flirting airily amid the ruins of Warsaw is not intellectually enjoyable. But when Mr. McCarey has the Nazis mistake them for Jews and injects a scene of vaudeville burlesque (with a derby pulled down over Mr. Grant's ears) before casting them, momentarily, into a mournful concentration camp, the effort is downright offensive. R. McCarey has produced a callous film.

More than that, he has committed the error of making the Nazis out to be treacherous villains on the one hand and artless buffoons on the other. A man who commits assassinations just isn't a butt for comic ridicule. And, perhaps because of confusion in his own mind as to the picture's tone, he has made it emotionally uneven and decidedly overlong and devious.

It must be said, however, that the actors give good performances of what they have to do. Miss Rogers gets across with subtle shadings the character of a crafty gold digger, and Mr. Grant is, as usual, very charming and arch as the smart reporter. A couple of their comic scenes together are played to perfection. Walter Slezak is tremendously impressive as the Nazi weasel throughout most of the film and gets beyond his compass only when he has to be foolishly vain. Albert Dekker, Albert Besserman and Ferike Boros are expert in smaller roles and Natasha Lytess shines with clear and poignant brilliance in a brief part as a Jewish chambermaid.

"Once Upon a Honeymoon" lost nothing in performance, obviously. But it gained very little from its authors. It is a very strand and stark lark.

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