Monday, December 24, 2012
On SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954)
It was love at first sight when my mother introduced me to Debbie Reynolds. Debbie was an older woman. Mainly because I was in grade school at the time. I still recall the weekend afternoon when, to keep me occupied while she did household chores, Mom sat me down in front of the big boxy TV we had in the living room and had me watch Susan Slept Here on local Channel 9, an independent station in Southern California. I was new to the skill of reading and was going to watch a Joan Fontaine movie with a title that I could and did read out loud: "Born To Be Bad." Mom looked at the TV listings and turned the channel. "Here," Mom said. "Watch Debbie Reynolds. She's a good girl." When two cops on Christmas Eve drag a female juvenile delinquent into the Hollywood apartment of an unemployed middle-aged Oscar-winning screenwriter, her scream is so loud and piercing that it shatters a bulb on his Christmas tree. That was the girl for me.
In movies, often the worst thing that can happen in a writer's personal life at a certain time is the best thing that can happen to him artistically. We know that Susan will romantically remove the writer's block from Mark Christopher's head and heart.