Mink is the Word for Eve Arden
There is one thing for certain "The Lady Wants Mink" is a movie which would never be made now, with its storyline revolving around Mink coats and breeding the furry little critters it would most definitely cause an uproar. But then "The Lady Wants Mink" is a movie from 1953 and an entertaining one at that with Eve Arden and Dennis O'Keefe on fine comedy form in a story which revolves around the saying "keeping up with the Joneses" and not just Mink coats.
Jim Connors (Dennis O'Keefe) may not like his job as a debt chaser for a department store but it comes with its perks, most notably a discount which he uses to buy his wife Nora (Ruth Hussey - The Philadelphia Story) a new coat for her birthday. But when their neighbour and Nora's best friend Gladys Jones (Eve Arden - Tea for Two) shows off her new Mink coat it causes issues as Nora wants one. Deciding to start breeding Mink in their back yard, life for Nora and Jim starts to spiral out of control as trying to keep up with the Jones's causes more issues than good.
It has to be said that like so many movies from the 1950s "The Lady Wants Mink" sort of suffers from a very slim line storyline. There really isn't much to it as one set of working class neighbours are a little jealous of their more affluent neighbours and whilst trying to keep up with them things get worse. As such it has a feeling more of an episode from a sitcom such as "I Love Lucy" rather than the stuff which makes a full length movie. But despite being quite slim and obviously padded out to last its full 92 minutes it's a lot of fun.
From the initial set up when Eve Arden as Gladys Jones shows off her Mink coat to Nora Connors, to Nora's husband Jim struggling to find the aggression working in the money collection department of a department store the comedy is forever present. And it continues throughout as the whole keeping up with the Jones's causes a series of comical issues. Much of it is obvious and as you would expect dealing with Mink and their fierce nature there is the expected finger biting scene. But the humour goes further with Jim struggling to really be good at any job he tries even tasks around the home.
But what is nice is that in all this comedy and keeping up with the Jones's it does deliver a nice meaning. It doesn't preach it at all but it tries to get across the whole being happy with what you've got rather than trying to be something else. Although I would imagine the slightly abrupt ending is a little too sugar coated for some as the realisation sets in for all the main characters.
Where "The Lady Wants Mink" does work though is in the performances most notably Eve Arden who is just magnificent as Gladys Jones. Eve Arden has such a way of delivering dialogue, straight faced but with a touch of sarcasm that even when she is being just friendly it's amusing. The same can be said of Dennis O'Keefe as Jim Connors although O'Keefe is funnier as the stressed out husband rather than for the sarcasm. Although they are not a couple in the movie it is their comedy which makes it feel a bit like a sitcom, with simple gags which are just good fun.
Aside from Eve Arden and Dennis O'Keefe "The Lady Wants Mink" also features some pleasant performances from the likes of Ruth Hussey as Nora Connors, William Demarest as Harvey Jones and Gene Lockhart as Mr. Heggie. Although it is very much Eve Arden and Dennis O'Keefe who bring it all together
What this all boils down to is that "The Lady Wants Mink" is very much an easy going, relatively simple 1950s comedy. The storyline surrounding keeping up with the neighbours is not enough to fill a whole movie and is padded out with set pieces. But it is surprisingly good fun with both Eve Arden and Dennis O'Keefe on fine form making it much better than it probably deserved to be.