One Touch of Venus (1948): Seitler’s Romantic Musical, Starring Robert Walker and Ava Gardner

William A. Seiter directed One Touch of Venus, a black-and-white romantic musical comedy, starring Robert Walker, Ava Gardner and Dick Haymes.

It was based on the Broadway musical, book written by S. J. Perelman and Ogden Nash, with music composed by Kurt Weill (lyrics by Nash). However, the film omits most of Weill’s music.

The actors did their own singing, except for Ava Gardner (Venus) whose singing was dubbed by Eileen Wilson.

In 1945, Mary Pickford intended to produce a film version of this musical with the Broadway cast, including Mary Martin, filmed in Technicolor, directed by Gregory La Cava, and released by United Artists. However, Martin became pregnant and Pickford sold the rights to Lester Cowan at Universal. Ann Ronell, Cowan’s wife, wrote the music that replaced much of Weill’s material.

This movie served as inspiration for the 1987 film Mannequin.

Wealthy department-store mogul Whitfield Savory II buys a statue of Venus for $200,000. He plans to exhibit it in the store.

Eddie Hatch, a window dresser, kisses the statue on a whim, but to his shock, Venus comes to life. She leaves the store and Eddie is accused of stealing the art work.

Nobody believes the truth, including secretary Molly Stewart, who is Savory’s right-hand woman, and Kerrigan, a detective.

Venus turns up at Eddie’s apartment, forcing him to hide her from girlfriend Gloria and roommate Joe.

Entranced by a Venus song of love, Joe falls for Eddie’s girl Gloria. At the store, meanwhile, Venus has fallen asleep and is discovered by Whitfield who is instantly smitten.

Kerrigan decides to arrest Eddie for the statue’s theft. Venus, to save Eddie, is willing to seduce Whitfield, but Molly threatens to leave him.

Called home by Jupiter to return to Mount Olympus, Venus returns to her pedestal. Whitfield can now display his work of art to the public.

Eddie is left alone–until he meets a new salesgirl who’s dead ringer for the love goddess.

Cast
Robert Walker as Eddie Hatch
Ava Gardner as Venus/Venus Jones
Dick Haymes as Joe Grant
Eve Arden as Molly Stewart
Olga San Juan as Gloria
Tom Conway as Whitfield Savory
James Flavin as Kerrigan
Sara Allgood as Landlady