Nanette Carter (Doris Day) made it through the stock market crash relatively unscathed… or so it seems. Her uncle, J. Maxwell “Max” Bloomhaus (S. Z. Sakall), is tasked with guarding her fortune and making investments for her. She thinks he’s done a great job of it, but in reality, he made poor investments, and all of the money was lost in the crash.
Unaware that she’s broke, the stagestruck Nanette is being courted as the backer for a new play. Producer Larry Blair (Billy De Wolfe) — who is also Nan’s beau — wants her to back a show written by Jimmy Smith (Gordon MacRae) and Tommy Trainor (Gene Neson).
Nanette falls for the show and also believes that Jimmy desperately needs the money to help his ailing sister, so she agrees to back it after hearing a few songs. Her secretary, Pauline (Eve Arden), isn’t so sure it’s a good idea.
Naturally, Max’s secret begins to unravel. How can Nanette give money to a stage musical when she has no money to give? He tries his best to cover for himself by making a bet with Nan: He’ll only give her the money if she can answer “No” to absolutely every question asked of her, for forty-eight hours.
David Butler directs 1950’s Two for Tea. As reported by dorisday.net, this was Warner Bros.’ best-grossing movie of 1950. It is based on the 1924 Broadway play No, No, Nanette.
After a month of spending most of my time with WatchTCM, fulfilling my Summer Under the Stars streaming needs, I returned to ol’ favorite Warner Archive Instant in September. Scrolling down the front page, I noticed this film under the “Last Chance to Watch” section. I had to tune in before it disappeared, because I just adore Doris Day and Gordon MacRae together!
Day and MacRae also had starring roles together in The West Point Story, On Moonlight Bay, and By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Moonlight Bay and Silvery Moon are two of my favorite “comfort food”/easy viewing musicals. Tea for Two is every bit as lovable. Day and MacRae make such a sweet pair, with their easy, pleasant chemistry. They’re an absolute delight to watch here.
Aside from being a highly enjoyable Day/MacRae co-starring musical, Tea for Two was an important film in Day’s career. It was the first film for which she received top billing, and the first role in which she got to show off her dancing shoes. A star was born! Day had, of course, already appeared in several musicals, but none that gave her much of a chance to do some hoofin’.
Doris Day fans, or fans of Day and MacRae as a pair, are sure to enjoy this film for their talents alone, but it has a lot else going for it. The songs are adorable, and several are enduring classics/hits, including the title track and “I Only Have Eyes for You.” To hear them sung by this cast is a real treat.
The film also has a fantastic supporting cast. S. Z. Sakall is an actor I always find lovable — one of my absolute favorite character actors. He’s a perfect fit for the role of Nan’s sweet but somewhat misguided uncle. Eve Arden is another highlight, playing Nan’s secretary, Pauline. Pauline positively despises Larry Blair, and has no trouble making her feelings known. Arden delivers Pauline’s biting remarks with plenty of venom and wit. And that scene where she caps up the scotch just as Larry is about to pour it! Too funny.
Tea for Two may take its name from a hot beverage, but to the screen it brings pure cotton candy fluff. It’s a light, sweet, 100% winsome and 100% watchable.