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Film / One Touch of Venus

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"Try to reason about love and you will lose your reason."

"To Venus, goddess of love! May she stay on the job and take care of us all!"
Molly Grant

One Touch of Venus is a 1948 romantic comedy-fantasy film loosely based on the Broadway musical of the same name, directed by William A. Seiter and starring Robert Walker, Ava Gardner, Dick Haymes, and Eve Arden.

The plot remains the same: a statue of the Roman goddess Venus comes to life and shakes things up in an everyman's life. But in contrast to the play's satire of sexual mores, the film takes more of a Screwball Comedy approach. Most of the original score isn't contained.



  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Venus is commonly imagined as a blonde, but played by the brunette Ava Gardner.
  • Adaptation Name Change: The protagonist is Rodney in the stage but changed to Eddie in the film.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Venus is traditionally depicted nude in artwork. The Hays Code insisted that the statue be wearing clothes.
  • An Aesop: The film's message is that people should be less concerned with practicality and propriety and devote more attention to love and fun.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Molly nicknames Whitfield "sire" as a term of endearment.
  • Ancient Grome: Averted. Venus makes mention of Jupiter wanting her back, not Zeus. Mercury was also meant to appear, as opposed to Hermes.
  • Artistic License: Venus and Aphrodite were nearly always depicted nude, and with flowing Rapunzel Hair. If it was an antique statue of her, it would not be wearing a long dress (which was enforced by the Hays Code).
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  • Beta Couple: Gloria and Joe become this while Eddie is busy falling in love with Venus.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Venus's presence causes Joe and Gloria, and Whitfield and Molly to realise that they should be together. But she turns back into a statue, meaning she and Eddie can't be together. He does however take an interest in a new woman at the end.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Gloria (blonde), Venus (brunette) and Molly (redhead).
  • Butt-Monkey: Detective Kerrigan gets mocked by Molly and embarrassed by Venus whenever he antagonises Eddie.
  • Cassandra Truth: Of course nobody believes Eddie that the statue came to life.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Eddie tells Venus to get rid of the dress she's wearing, thinking she stole it from the store (it was a gift from Whitfield). So she strips off right there...just as Gloria is on the way in.
  • Costume Porn: Given that the setting is a department store, and Venus has to get a makeover, plenty of 1940s fashions are shown off.
  • Cupid's Arrow: The songs Venus sings seem to act as this, causing the other characters to either fall in love or realise who they really were in love with all along.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many of Molly Grant's lines consist of her snarking in response to Whitfield.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Gloria is Eddie's girlfriend at the start but eventually falls for his best friend Joe throughout the film.
  • Distant Duet: "Speak Low" turns into one of these between Venus and Joe.
  • Divine Date: Whitfield tries to court Venus, though of course he doesn't know who she really is. A straighter example comes when Eddie takes her on a date in the park.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Eddie keeps mistakenly letting the mechanical bed down and trying to put it back up when he's around Venus in the store's model room. Naturally it parallels a Raging Stiffie.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Joe seems to be this towards Gloria.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Venus turns back into a statue at the end. But Eddie is last seen meeting a woman who looks just like her - played by Ava Gardner too.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The story happens over the course of two days.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Joe and Gloria throughout the course of "Speak Low".
  • Fantastic Comedy: One of the earlier examples. A goddess causes hijinx when she runs around a department store.
  • Fiction 500: Whitfield Savoury owns the titular department store and appears to have infinite supplies of wealth and connections.
  • God in Human Form: Venus of course but just temporarily.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Eddie and Gloria are only about to get engaged, thus justifying their falling in love with Venus and Joe respectively. At least from a legal POV in the era.
  • High-Class Gloves: Venus dons these for her date with Whitfield.
  • Hot God: As she's the goddess of love, Venus is understandably stunningly beautiful. She's played by Ava Gardner afterall.
  • "I Want" Song: "That's Him" is about how Gloria and Molly both want love.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: The hairstyle on the statue of Venus is that of the 1940s vintage, as opposed to classical art. Even if the statue had been made in the 40s, it would not have been given a modern style.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Venus turns Kerrigan into an owl. Or at least makes him act like one.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Eddie kisses the statue when lightning strikes, and thus it comes to life.
  • Love Goddess: But of course. Venus's presence causes everyone to fall in love with the 'right' partners. The end reveals that her presence caused city hall to run out of marriage licenses.
  • Makeover Montage: Gloria and Molly give Venus a makeover to dress her in modern clothing, during the "That's Him" number.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Venus is a pretty early example of the trope, and she doesn't just liven up Eddie's life. She fixes everyone else's too. But she still turns back to a statue at the end and she and Eddie can't be together.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Venus of course spends the first act of the film running around in a tight fitting Grecian dress, showing off a lot of skin for a 1940s movie.
  • Musical World Hypothesis: Using the 'magical spell' subset of the Alternate Universe hypothesis. The singing doesn't start until Venus shows up, and it's she who causes it. Before the song "Speak Low" Eddie even checks the air vents to see where the music is coming from.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A good portion of the movie is Eddie trying to hide Venus from everyone - who assume he's been cheating on Gloria. A great example of this is Venus hiding from his landlady in the bathtub - Eddie naturally panics when he sees her in there.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Detective Kerrigan thinks this is the case with Eddie.
  • One Steve Limit: Lampshaded at the end when Eddie meets a new department store employee also called Venus.
    "Not likely to meet two people called Venus, are you?"
  • Only Sane Man: Molly is the most on-the-ball character in the film and clearly knows how to run the store better than anyone else.
  • Pair the Spares: Whitfield eventually realises that it's Molly he really loves and hooks up with her rather than Venus.
  • Screwball Comedy: Eddie is a blue collar everyman, Venus is a literal goddess and much of the film is about him trying to hide her from everyone - while trying to convince the authorities that he didn't steal the statue that has now come to life.
  • Sexy Secretary: Molly Grant plays with this. While she's the eventual love interest of Whitfield, she's presented more as a match for his intelligence and wit rather than having sex appeal.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: The three female leads fit this trope to perfect example. Naive and emotional Gloria is the Child, no-nonsense competent Molly is the wife, and Venus herself of course is the Seductress.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Molly is a no-nonsense businesswoman, but even she would like to fall in love as well.
  • Troll: Venus seems to be aware that she's trolling Eddie and enjoying every minute of it. She also trolls Detective Kerrigan quite a bit.
  • Tsundere:
    • Gloria is a Type B. She's usually sweet and caring, but when her Berserk Button is pressed...
    • Molly is a Type A. Her deredere side is hidden under layers of tsuntsun sarcasm.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Venus turns back into a statue when it gets to midnight.
  • Who's on First?: When Eddie is trying to explain to Joe that Venus was hiding in the apartment, Joe thinks he means the literal statue. So a lot of this type of banter occurs.
  • Woman Scorned: Gloria goes ballistic when she thinks Eddie has been cheating on her.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Venus naturally has this effect on people who see her. Eddie and Whitfield fall in love with her the moment they see her.