Warners dips into the Gay Nineties period with this second film version of James Hagan’s play, One Sunday Afternoon. Paramount turned out the original picture back in 1933 with Gary Cooper starred.
This entry of the Hagan play switches the locale to New York; otherwise it sticks close to the original. Story is told in retrospect. James Cagney is a struggling dentist with few patients, when an emergency call comes to pull a molar of his worst enemy, and he figures to give the latter a good dose of gas. While waiting for the patient’s arrival, yarn goes back 10 years, when Cagney was enamored of the neighborhood’s ‘strawberry blonde’.
Jilted, he conveniently marries the loving and understanding nurse (Olivia de Havilland) but through the years carries a hate for the man who victimized him and stole his first girl. But he again meets the girl of his memories, finds her a nagging nuisance, and figures his enemy has had sufficient punishment through the years. It’s then that he realizes he has the perfect wife.
Cagney and de Havilland provide topnotch performances that do much to keep up interest in the proceedings. Rita Hayworth is an eyeful as the title character, while Jack Carson is excellent as the politically ambitious antagonist of the dentist.
1941: Nomination: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture