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Film / Julia Misbehaves

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Julia Misbehaves is a 1948 romantic comedy film directed by Jack Conway, and stars Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Cesar Romero, Peter Lawford, Mary Boland, Lucile Watson, and Elizabeth Taylor. It was based on the novel The Nutmeg Tree by Margery Sharp, a story that was also turned into the 1940s Broadway play Lady in Waiting.

The story stars Julia Packett (Garson), a British showgirl that is invited to the wedding of her estranged daughter Susan (Taylor), who she hasn't seen in ages due to financial struggles, and her former marriage to her father William (Pidgeon) and her rocky relationship with his mother, who had scared her away in the first place. During a tour of France, Julia meets an acrobat called Fred Ghenoccio (Romero), and the two of them instantly flirt with each other, but Fred becomes so enamored that he proposes to her seconds before the two of them have to part. Julia reunites with her husband and her daughter, despite her mother-in-law's (Watson) annoyance, and is more than happy to stay for Susan's wedding, but as her romance rekindles with William, her daughter appears to be hesitant about her love for her fiance, becoming very interested in artist Ritchie Logan (Lawford), and a lovestruck Fred.

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Hilarity Ensues.


Tropes

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Julia seems to charm every person she meets. The only person that she fails to do so is her mother-in-law.
  • Adorkable: Julia has many of these moments, notably when she's flirting with Fred.
  • Bad Luck Charm: Julia says that pink shouldn't be seen at Susan's wedding, recommending blue instead. The guests find the suggestion ridiculous until she convinces them with a story of a time when she was wearing the same coloured dress as Susan for a stage performance, which led to everything (but the performance) going wrong for her.
  • Character Tic: William declares his love for Julia in his home, leaning against the bar and stroking his ear. Julia doesn't believe a word of it because she remembered him in the same pose when he broke up with her and still dotes for Fred.
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  • Clark Kent Outfit: Fred is hiding quite a physique under his suit, Julia finds out on the boat trip to France. She squeezes his biceps, realising how muscly he is and turns into a giggling schoolgirl.
  • Compliment Backfire: Susan tells her mother that her fiance just wants to kiss her and tells her the "most embarrassing things". He once said that her eyes were like "wet violets". Julia flips it, adding that she agrees with him.
  • Covered in Mud: Julia and William slip in a muddy puddle in a downpour when they try to run home after their cars are towed away.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Fred, it's discovered, when he hears about Julia bribing men into getting their money, and is furious. He refuses to hear any more stories, ends the engagement, and leaves the house with everyone jeering at him.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Susan's fiance, who she didn't want to marry in the first place.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • The French maid in Ma's dressing room gazes at William as if he is the most beautiful thing she's ever seen, failing to see Ma's signal to leave him and her alone.
    • The sailors in the audience of the stage performance who catcall Julia. She enjoys the attention and gives them a free improvised performance.
  • Everyone Can See It: In Susan's case, her own mother quickly works out that she has more feelings for Ritchie more than her future husband, no matter how much Susan tries to deny it.
  • Fanservice: Julia's performance (due to improvisation and the irritated acrobats), which featured the acrobats failing to pull off the stage, dragging off bits of her costume and leaving her in her leotard.
  • Femme Fatale: Julia often has to bribe in "unethical" ways in order to get some money. At the beginning of the movie, we see her pretending to trying and commit suicide to blackmail her friend into paying her bills (she's actually in the bath staring at a locked door held shut with a grandfather clock).
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Fred's proposal was way too soon. Even Julia lampshades it.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After the failed romantic boat trip across the river, the camera pans across the path covered in wet footprints and then stops at the doorstep, where we see Julia and William's shoes. Then, a dissolve cut to wet clothing being thrown on the carpet ... and then William walks into frame, hanging his and Julia's wet clothes on a washing line by the fireplace.
  • Hanging Our Clothes to Dry: William and Julia hang out their wet clothes by the fireplace after facing the downpour outside.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: At one point, Julia says, "You're certainly in a gay mood."
  • Hidden Depths: Julia can play the piano. William is a talented singer.
  • Human Ladder: The acrobat group does this a lot in and out of their performance.
  • Hunk: Fred. He needs to be since he's an acrobat.
  • Hypocritical Humour: One guest at Susan's wedding reception rehearsal says, "I don't believe in superstitions either — touch wood."
  • In-Joke: Elizabeth Taylor's eyes were often described as being "violet" throughout her life, and it's even referenced in this movie.
    Susan: Why, no one's eyes are like wet violets ... are they?
    Julia: Well, I think yours are.
  • Lady Drunk: Fred's mother. Julia soon learns that it's a bad idea to give her champagne, and when she visits the house with her son, Ma grabs bottles of alcohol and takes them to her room.
    Fred: Where's my mother?
  • Love Triangle: Fred and Colonel Willowbrook seem to be chasing after Julia.
  • Loveable Rogue: Julia, who does many wacky ways of bribery to have enough money to support herself.
  • Manly Man and Sensitive Guy: The hunky acrobat Fred's manly man vs. the rich fatherly William's sensitive guy.
  • No Name Given: Fred's mother is only referred to as Ma.
  • Not So Different: William and Julia are definitely made for each other. William's plan with Willowbrook is as sneaky and manipulative as anything Julia has come up with throughout the movie in order to eat, sleep, and fill her wardrobe. Then it leads to their daughter being just as sneaky too.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: William's mother, who is responsible for Julia running away and leaving her daughter behind. It's implied that, although William was the one that announced that he didn't love her anymore, that Julia believed that the mother had something to do with making his mind up.
  • Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date: William decides to take Julia on the old rowboat that they used in the early days of their marriage. Being sixteen years old and full of holes, William reassures Julia that the boat is fine. It leaks and sinks into the lake.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Julia. This is the biggest reason why she leaves her daughter behind with her wealthy in-laws.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Julia's husband William, to the lovestruck Fred.
  • She's All Grown Up: Julia and William discuss this when they officially meet. Julia says that William has gotten better looking with Curves in All the Right Places as opposed to his gangly look when she last saw him. William, after secretly going to see Julia (and her wild, stripping antics) on stage, is too embarrassed to say what he thinks of her and immediately changes the subject.
  • Shipper on Deck: Seeing how unhappy her daughter is with the man she's marrying, Julia tries to bring Susan and Ritchie together. Then it turns out that William was thinking the same thing too.
  • Uptown Boy: Julia's marriage to William. Implied to be one of the reasons why her mother-in-law tried to sabotage it.
  • We Do Not Know Each Other: Discovering that Julia tricked Willowbrook in order to buy Susan presents, William decides to set her up by pretending that he and Willowbrook are strangers in order to scare Fred away. It's ruined when William's mother walks in and explains their relationship to Julia.
  • Vaudeville: Julia's stage performance with the acrobat performers. Anyone in the audience familiar with Greer Garson's movies might see the scene as a Shout-Out to the performance she had in Random Harvest, especially because both her characters Show Some Leg.

 
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William and Julia Reunite

Julia and William were once married and haven't seen each other in over a decade. Julia has returned to the United States and reunites with William in his home. She gives him a once-over and says that he has gotten more attractive and isn't skinny anymore. William doesn't know how to react to all these sudden compliments.

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