After being married to Jennifer Jones (who is/was my particular 1940's screen love goddess), Robert Walker stars opposite a very erotic Ava Gardner, described by film critics in "The Naked Contessa" (1954) as, "...the most beautiful woman in the world", so she was aptly cast to play Venus, the goddess of love, in this 1948 production.
Robert Walker plays Eddie Hatch a lowly paid window dresser at the store owned by Whitfield Savory II (played by Tom Conway - a relative of the suave George Sanders).Eddie is instructed to ensure that the curtain will not snag at the forthcoming unveiling ceremony of the recently acquired statue of Venus.When finished, he impulsively (he's finished the boss' drink) kisses the statue which promptly comes to life!! Eddie is to marry Gloria (Olga San Juan), who rather irritatingly, keeps reminding him they are to marry each other.They have drifted into their relationship and marriage just seems the next logical move - but who said love is logical!! However, Eddie's friend Joe, (Dick Haymes), is secretly in love with Gloria himself but he doesn't know it.Whitfield Savory II is likewise ignorant of his subconcious love for his efficient secretary, Molly Stewart, played by Eve Arden in one of her typical wise-cracking, comic roles; (see her as Mildred Pierce's efficient manager in the Oscar winning film of the same name (1945) opposite Joan Crawford.
I was mesmerized by Ava Gardner as she spreads her instinctive love to bring all these true lovers together, while working her magic on Eddie himself who is soon in love with her.She seems reluctant to return to Mount Olympus as she is having so much fun here on Earth.She loves helping people but when her task is over, Jupiter, the head of The Gods, (who communicates by thunderflashes), summons her back to Mount Olympus.Reluctantly her effigy returns as a statue at the store, much to the relief of the Whitfield Savory II who thought Eddie had stolen the statue whilst she is in her live alter-ego on Earth.This sub-plot gives rise to some comic Keystone Cops type chases especially when Venus comically turns one of the "gumshoes" into an owl, albeit temporarily as she loves everyone really!.Molly believes Eddie is innocent - good for her I say!
Watch out for Sara Algood who plays Eddie's landlady, (see her in previous roles as Mrs Beth Morgan in "How Green Was My Valley (1941) and as Mrs Maile in "Cluny Brown" (1946).The lovely song "Speak Low" is sung by Dick Haymes miming to his own recording while Ava effectivly mimes to another well matched singer's voice.Another song about men, sung in the ladies dressing room as a trio, featuring Ava, Olga & Eve.
The audience feels strong sympathy for Eddie and he is finally given his divine award (including a modest pay rise) when a very beautiful new store recruit called "Venus Jones" (Ava),appears in normal human form to him there.We have to assume this will eventually become another love match engineered by Mount Olympus!
I found this film hugely enjoyable as I love classic 1940's films having made them something of a speciality.It has fewer of the songs than in the original Broadway musical but this seems to fit the plot.It is a difficult title to find on video.I obtained mine by winning an e-Bay auction after searching on Robert Walker.