The other day I finally was able to see an uncut version of the 1963 film “Come Fly With Me” that starred Dolores Hart. At the time she was a rising star in Hollywood and had even been in a movie with Elvis Presley. Hart eventually gave up a film career to become a nun. “Come Fly With Me” is a romantic comedy with a 1950’s tone. Hart and the two other women leads are of course looking for a man to marry as women in film, at this time, usually did. I like these kinds of movies as some people like trashy romance novels, sure there is a formula, but it’s candy for the brain. It feels good to watch it but adds nothing of substance that lasts.
The film is an adaptation of a book by Bernard Glemser titled “Girl on a Wing” published in 1960. It’s obvious the film is trying to appeal to young women who were brought up in a time when the only long term option for them was to get married and to forgive then forget when the men they were chasing screwed up. Being released in 1963, the film came out during the Kennedy administration and just before the turbulent political and social upheaval following his assassination.
The leads are Dolores Hart as Donna Stuart, Lois Nettleton as Hilda ‘Bergie’ Bergstrom, and Pamela Tiffin as the new girl Carol Brewster. Each character was different and well written so you never mixed them up. All three were perfectly coifed and dressed in all the scenes – even the night hotel scene when Bergie comes back from a date with Walter Lucas, who was played by Karl Malden??!
The film included many scenes shot on location in Paris and Vienna Austria as well as good looks at the now named John F. Kennedy International Airport which was named “New York International Airport”. The airline was called Polar Atlantic Airways with a similar color scheme as Pan Am airlines of the day. During this time period air travel was still a luxury and so it was fun to see how uncrowded the planes and airports were and all the minimum security used before terrorism on air planes escalated in the mid 1970’s.
Being a romantic comedy logic does go out the window. One that was obvious to me was leaving New York and arriving in Paris in daylight. The average flight time is still about 8 hours at most and Paris is 6 hours ahead of New York. If the flight would leave at say 9 am New York time it wouldn’t arrive until well after dark Paris time (approx 11 PM there). Of course Paris at night is still beautiful (it’s called the “City of Lights” after all) but the darkness would be hard to look good on film so the three stewardesses arrive at their Paris hotel in the middle of the day.
As for the acting, all the actors do a decent job. Dolores Hart really pops on the screen and Pamela Tiffin steals some scenes as the comic relief of the three. Lois Nettleton has the best story while Hart’s is less believable in the end when she gets into trouble with the law.
The men in the film are all good looking, even Karl Malden. Hugh O’Brian as First Officer Ray Winsley and Brewster’s suitor is ruggedly handsome yet someone who seems to have women in as many cities as he flies into. Karlheinz Böhm, who plays Baron Franz Von Elzingen, Donna’s suitor fits right in as a cad that is forgiven even when he gets Donna in trouble with the law. The only good guy of the men is Malden’s Walter Lucas who’s in Europe to heal from the death of his wife.
In general, “Come Fly With Me” is candy for the brain. Watch it when you want to escape to another time that fortunately doesn’t exist any more.
(embedding is diabled by the video poster so click on the link to see it — dlb)
Lois Maxwell who played Miss Moneypenny in the Bond films from the 60’s to the 1980’s plays another stewardess. You can catch her about an hour into the film.
This was the last feature film for Dolores Hart who left acting to become a nun in 1963. A documentary about her life titled “God is the Bigger Elvis” is nominated for a 2012 Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short. According to reports Hart will be at the Kodak Theater on Oscar night. A member of the Academy, she last attended the awards ceremony in 1959.