Gardner's Screen Goddess
Whilst known as the inspiration for 80s romantic fantasy "Mannequin", "One Touch of Venus" itself is inspired by a Broadway musical comedy. I say inspired intentionally because in making "One Touch of Venus" the number of musical elements were reduced and rather than being the luscious colour musical as originally planned it was turned into a lighter b&w movie made on a lesser budget. The end result is that whilst fun and charming "One Touch of Venus" doesn't quite work as well as it should have with a second half which loses momentum and seems to go nowhere.
Department store owner Whitfield Savory II (Tom Conway) has spent a fortune on getting a statue of Venus (Ava Gardner - The Cassandra Crossing) for the store's gallery department and he is eager to unveil it to the public, having window dresser Eddie Hatch (Robert Walker - Till the Clouds Roll By) make sure everything is perfect for the big reveal. That is where the trouble starts because on seeing the stunning statue Eddie kisses her and suddenly the statue comes to life with Venus falling in love with him. Forced to go on the run with Venus not only does Eddie have to contend with an angry Whitfield who has the police looking for him but also his girlfriend Gloria (Olga San Juan) who thinks he is up to something.
So as already mentioned "One Touch of Venus" didn't end up how it was originally intended, in fact Mary Pickford who brought the screen rights end up selling them when her plans fell through. Her plans not only were to have a big musical in colour but also to star Mary Martin and Frank Sinatra which to me sounds pretty brilliant. As such "One Touch of Venus" ended up being turned from a musical into a fun romantic fantasy with just a handful of musical numbers and in a way that is why whilst fun it doesn't quite work.
Now the first half of "One Touch of Venus" is fun because it is all about the comical confusion and chaos as Eddie finds himself with the sexy Venus who has the hots for him. It's all comically typical as Eddie panics whilst Venus seductively flirts but it is fun as he goes from thinking he is crazy to trying to hide her from others whilst also keeping away from the law who are after him. And that is fine except when it comes to the second half which is all about relationships from Eddie with Venus, his friend Joe with his girlfriend Gloria and Whitfield Savory II with secretary Molly it falls flat. It just loses the spark and you sense that some vibrant musical numbers would have helped lift this second half into being something more entertaining.
So as for that first fun half, well for the most that is down to Robert Walker as Eddie Hatch because whilst typical the confusion and panicking is all enjoyable. But whilst Walker delivers the fun with Eve Arden delivering a few moments of fun sarcasm as Molly "One Touch of Venus" is more memorable for the screen goddess Ava Gardner playing Venus the goddess of love. Yes Gardner is stunningly beautifully, take that back she is gob smackingly beautiful in "One Touch of Venus" and also fun as she teases and seduces Eddie and thank goodness she is because otherwise this could have been a movie which struggles more than it does.
What this all boils down to is that "One Touch of Venus" is a fun 1940s romantic fantasy with the beauty of Ava Gardner making it memorable. But at the same time you get a sense that it could have been so much better if turned into a full musical rather than just a light romantic fantasy.