For Reel

Value for Money (1955)
June 30, 2016, 1:00 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ken Annakin
3.5 Stars
Value for MoneyOn the surface, much of Value for Money seems familiar of Hollywood romantic comedies of the 1950s—gold diggers, dance numbers, and more than a little innuendo. In fact, in 1955 star Diana Dors was at the top of her career having been christened the “English Marilyn Monroe.” And yet, if much of the picture plays like a typical Monroe vehicle, the cultural context couldn’t be any more different. Value for Money is both a regional comedy (there are many in-jokes regarding accents and subtle differences in characterization depending on locale) and a product of the post-war era, resulting in a comedy of radical juxtapositions and cynicism—while Dors is the epitome of class, she is a direct contrast to the shabby town of Batley (the picture was actually partly filmed in West Yorkshire), distinguished by its remarkable drabby cobble streets coated with soot. Similarly, although the target of the gold digger is a wealthy man, he is literally haunted by the voice of his penny-pinching father—John Gregson plays the man with an endearing sense of self-deprecation, and his early courtship with Dors is kept interesting due to their shifting dynamic (as expected, she only becomes insistent in their relationship after she learns of the extent of his riches). Susan Stephen is quite good in the comparatively small role as Gregson’s fiancée. Although characters like her are often limited to sitting on the sidelines until their lovers get enough sense to come back to them, Stephen shows a steadfastness in her interactions with Gregson—she is not a humiliated victim, but rather a woman who is more than willing to walk out if her man doesn’t come to his senses in due time.

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