Mark Winston may very well be the most popular man in America. He’s a famous pilot, with a handsome face and good values. Millions of women have fallen for him.
There’s just one catch: he’s fictional! Novelist Kit Madden (Claudette Colbert) has written a best-selling book called Here is Tomorrow, under the name of Christopher Madden. Mark Winston is the main character.
Kit is headed to Hollywood, where her book is being turned into the film. Cary Grant is to star as Mark Winston, and Lana Turner as his love interest.
On the train to California, Kit meets Rusty (John Wayne), a real-life pilot for the United States Marine Corps. She thinks he’s a perfect fit for her lead character of Mark Winston, and as luck would have it, Cary Grant has had to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts. But can she convince Rusty, who has no acting experience, to take on a big-screen role?
Mervyn LeRoy directs 1946’s Without Reservations. Funnily enough, this tale of Hollywood adapting a novel is an adaptation of a novel, Thanks, God! I’ll Take It From Here by Jane Allen and Mae Livingston. The novel was adapted for the screen by Andrew Solt.
Part showbiz comedy and part screwball romance, Without Reservations is a pretty fun watch.
While the focus is put more on the romantic side of the plot, there is some very fun joke-making about Hollywood and the novel adaptation process. There are also a ton of fun little cameo appearances, including Cary Grant, Louella Parsons, Jack Benny, and director Mervyn LeRoy himself.
Claudette Colbert is a delight to watch, as always. Her character is an interesting one, stubborn and strong-willed. She’s a talented writer and an intelligent woman, never afraid to share her opinions or engage in frank discussion of the political and social issues of the day.
John Wayne fills his role well, too. Though perhaps most famous for his Westerns, this is certainly the type of role we’re used to seeing Wayne in: the all-American man’s man. As a pair, Colbert and Wayne work because their characters challenge each other, and they have nice chemistry.
I bought this film blind, for one silly reason: Cary Grant has a cameo in it, playing himself. As I knew Cary only had a blink-and-you-miss-it role, I went into the film with no expectations. I actually put off watching it for quite a while because John Wayne stars in it, and I’m not much of a fan of him. But I was pleasantly surprised!
Nice performances and a fun, fast-paced story make Without Reservations worthy of a watch by any fan of romantic comedy, and especially fans of Claudette Colbert, who shines in the leading role. The score: 4/5