Mr. Browne goes to Washington

Olivia de Havilland and Sonny Tufts in Government Girl (1943)

As World War II rages on, automotive engineer Ed Browne (Sonny Tufts) finds himself sent for by the Government, causing quite a stir amongst single young women when he arrives in Washington D.C. as he becomes headline news. It is whilst dealing with the attention of young women at the hotel that he meets Smokey Allard (Olivia de Havilland), unaware that she will be his secretary and believing she is one of many young women who are at the hotel to get married, when in truth she is a bridesmaid for her friend May (Anne Shirley). But whilst Ed is dealing with the Government system full of red tape having been asked to head up a new aircraft project he finds himself falling for Smokey who also falls for him, trouble is she is engaged to Senate aide Dana McGuire (Jess Barker) who is always on the make.

We have a war time setting, a pretty woman, a nice guy and plenty of comedy confusion with quick fire dialogue; yes we are in screwball comedy territory with Olivia de Havilland and Sonny Tufts as the romantic duo in "Government Girl". To get straight to the point, whilst "Government Girl" ticks a lot of boxes, especially when it comes to Olivia de Havilland and Anne Shirley, it feels made like one of Ed Browne's cars, on a factory line. There is simply nothing in this screwball comedy which makes it stand out from the crowd and so whilst an enjoyable watch it leaves you with no real desire to watch it again or at least go out of your way to watch it again.

Olivia de Havilland and Anne Shirley in Government Girl (1943)

But I get ahead of myself as "Government Girl" has quite a pleasant storyline with Ed Browne going to Washington and through a couple of confusing meet cutes gets to know Smokey Allard, what a great name, and once the initial confusion over who they are is cleared up of course they end up falling for each other. It is entertaining but pretty routine stuff and even the big comedic set pieces such a haphazard motorbike ride just doesn't quite have the real wow factor. But it doesn't stop there as we have further comedy and confusion thanks to Smokey's current beau who is a bit slippery and on the make.

What is clear about "Government Girl" is that it wants to win you over with the likeable nature and looks of the cast. Now on one hand Sonny Tufts has the looks but not really the comedy shakes to pull off screwball and then you have Olivia de Havilland who not only looks great but she also delivers the comedy. Except when ever she delivers some comedy be it double takes or sliding across the floor in her stocking feet it feels like she is trying too hard to imitate Lucille Ball. It just doesn't feel natural for me where as Anne Shirley in the best friend role seems much more natural in the comedy stakes.

What this all boils down to is that "Government Girl" whilst fun is nothing out of the ordinary and has a feel about it of a factory line produced movie which they tried to squeeze some available stars into.

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