Friday, December 16, 2011

The Classic List: southern charm edition

The time has come for the fifth post in my series where I pretend to be a film critic and tell you what classic Hollywood films you should watch and why. But really, guys, I'm no professional. To tell you a secret, this list is as personal as it gets: movies that have defined certain periods in my life; films that have somehow changed my point of view, made me laugh or cry, or have astounded me with their beauty. I hope that in some way this list encourages you to explore the genre and find a new favorite or re-watch a much-loved classic. So, without further ado, I give you this week's pick: Tammy and the Bachelor.
Released in 1957, Tammy and the Bachelor is the "newest" movie on the list. It stars a gorgeous, young Debbie Reynolds as the unsophisticated and incandescent Tammy, while an also young Leslie Nielsen plays the Southern gentleman, Peter. (Sidenote: who knew Leslie Nielson used to be so gorgeous?!) I'd wager that many of you have probably never heard of Tammy and the Bachelor, which actually went on to become a three-film series, although none of the others have the charm of the first, especially since Debbie Reynolds didn't star in any of the others. 

Tambrey "Tammy" Tyree has grown up on a houseboat in the Mississippi River with her grandfather John Dinwitty. Her best friend is a goat named Nan, and any problems or concerns about life she has, well, who better than to listen? One day in their swamp, our heroine discovers the wreckage of a plane, and an unconscious Peter Brent. 

As you would have it, Tammy falls in love with Peter. While he recovers on their houseboat, he learns to enjoy the simple things that life has to offer, and he and Tammy become fast friends. And really, how could he resist her charming personality, and simple, naive, often funny views on life? When our handsome leading man recovers, he tells Tammy that if anything ever happens to her grandfather, she should come see him, and he'll help however he can. 

Of course, grandfather John is arrested and jailed for making moonshine (hilarious? yes!) and she packs her few belongings, puts on her best dress and hat, leashes Nan and sets off on foot to Peter's home (aka: sprawling Southern estate).

A swanky party is being thrown when she arrives, and she has every intention of spying through the front windows all night, but of course, because she's Tammy, she falls asleep. And this is where Peter is surprised to find her a few hours later. 

The rest of the film involves many crazy escapades and misunderstandings during Tammy's stay at Peter's family home. His mother isn't quite sure what to think about the naive, uneducated girl, and his aunt simply adores her because she sees the possibility in her. 

Tammy and the Bachelor is a comedy, but I love the sweet love story between our girl and quirky Southern gentleman. I even love the slightly cheesy song she sings when she admits her swoon-worthy feelings for Peter:

As usual, here's the breakdown of why this film is classic-list worthy:

First, there's the comedic element. There are many jokes about the South and the whole movie is pretty much a testament to how old fashioned people living in my area of the world can sometimes be. But it's not meant to be disparaging, it's all done with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. And Tammy is so laugh out loud funny, oh, her views on life and the things she's been brought up to believe will have you giggling through the whole film. And, of course Leslie Nielsen is always hilarious, even if he is supposed to be playing the handsome leading man this time.

The main reason to love this movie, however, is its charm. The setting, clothes, music, even the actors, they just ooze the aforementioned quality. Sometimes this can come across as corny or even old-fashioned, but here, its a good thing. Debbie Reynolds does a fabulous job of balancing Tammy's naivette with her often uncanny ability to speak the truth about situations. I dare you not to fall in love with her!

Take the time over the upcoming Christmas break to sit down and appreciate Tammy and her crazy antics. If you do, I can promise this movie will be added to your list of favorites. I first watched it when I was 12, and its been entertaining me ever since! 


  1. Must. watch. right. NOW! Ahhhhhh Debbie Reynolds!

  2. AHH! You must! You will fall in love with Peter and wonder why there isn't more of him in your life!