Julia Misbehaves (1948): Flat, Verbose Romantic Comedy, Starring (Miscast) Greer Grason

This flat, verbose black-and-white romantic comedy, set in London in the 1930s, stars Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in their fourth teaming–arguably the weakest of their six collaborations, though commercially the film was profitable.

An adaptation of Margery Sharp’s novel, “The Nutmeg Tree,” the film was in the work for years (with different writers and producers assigned and under different titles), ultimately resulting as the final work of MGM reliable contract director, Jack Conway.

The classy and elegant Garson is simply miscast as a charming and manipulative showgirl, Julia Packett, a poor femme who would fake suicide to get money out of male beaux to pay the bills

As a young woman, Julia had married wealthy William Packett (Pidgeon), but after 14 months, his disapproving mother (Lucille Watson, doing her shtick) talks him into breaking up.

Julia returned to show business, but left her infant daughter with her husband, so that the child could be raised in more secure and luxurious conditions.
On the boat trip to France, she meets Fred Ghenoccio (Cesar Romero), a muscular acrobat, and joins his troupe in Paris. Later on, poor again, she manipulates Colonel Willowbrook (Nigel Bruce), to give her money, and then sneaks away.
Julia resumes contact with her daughter Susan, rekindling William’s affection for her. Realizing that Susan is in love with poor painter Ritchie Lorgan (Peter Lawford), she brings the two together. Complications arise when Fred shows up to claim his “fiancée,” but Susan elopes with Ritchie.

In the last scene, set during rainstorm, Julia reunites with William sprawled in the muck.

End note:

The novel also served as source of the 1940 Broadway play, “Lady in Waiting.”
Elizabeth Taylor, then only 16 received her first onscreen kiss, from Peter Lawford.

During the shoot, Lawford introduced Greer Garson to E. E. “Buddy” Fogelson, a Texan oil and cattle millionaire whom she married in 1949.

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