Count Your Blessings (1959) DVD Review: More of a Curse, Really

Deborah Kerr, Rossano Brazzi, and Maurice Chevalier sink in a dreary comedy set across the English Channel.
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Anyone who has ever given online dating a shot knows full well how truly horrible a romance can go if you dive into it head first. Here, in the 1959 MGM flick Count Your Blessings, we witness the horrors of not only a rushed romance in a time before computer dating, but we also see what happens when people rush a film into production as well. From the get-go, Count Your Blessings had this certain je ne sais quoi to it that translated to my gut as "Yeah, there's a reason you've never heard of this one before." Sadly, I my fears became a reality on par with that of my own horrible online dating experiences as the story - or at least a half-assed attempt at one - unfolded before my thoroughly disinterested eyes.

Here, Deborah Kerr, Rossano Brazzi, and Maurice Chevalier represent three sides of the European continent in this American production from the Romanian director (Jean Negulesco) of the much better-made Three Coins in the Fountain. Opening in World War II, an engaged English woman of virtue (Ms. Kerr) is abruptly greeted one day after work by a brazenly cheeky Frenchman (Italian actor Brazzi, who was already past his prime at this point - especially in American-made films - doomed to star in the likes of Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks soon thereafter) at her estate. Allegedly a friend of her fiance (played by Tom Helmore, though his part is miniscule for what it should be), it isn't long before Brazzi has seduced, wedded, and bedded the redheaded lass - and a little brazen Brazzi is on the way into the world.

Alas, duty calls, and Signori - I mean "Monsieur" - Brazzi has to dart back off to the war. All of them, in fact: staying behind in France well into the 1950s - long after WWII has ended - to engage in various other skirmishes and battles such as the French Indochina War. Meanwhile, back in the UK, an increasingly impatient Kerr continues to knit a rug for each year her beloved is away - resulting in a floor covering longer than most hallways in the end! (You're supposed to laugh at that, because it's supposed to be funny.) Eventually, Brazzi returns to meet his young son (future Village of the Damned terror Martin Stephens), whom he has next to no affection for due to his extreme lustfulness for his wife - who has made up for her lack of affection by pampering the little British brat to the extreme.

Naturally, once Kerr moves to Paris to live with her husband - their son and Kerr's faithfully feisty nanny (Mona Washbourne) in tow - she begins to finally put a few pieces of the three-piece puzzle together: Brazzi is a genuine ladies' man, and - were this the modern age - would have most definitely been exposed as a prominent member of the Ashley Madison website. As reality slowly sets in for this undoubtedly very slow woman [insert redhead joke here], Brazzi's cool uncle - as played by Maurice Chevalier, anxiously hoping to make a movie like Panic Button so he can make up for appearing in this - tries to "adjust" her to being married to a passionate Frenchman. Because that's not offensive to anyone when it's placed in that sort of context, right? Right?

Just when you think the story might finally be grabbing a foothold in the very flat horizontal surface of a script it forces us to scale upwards on, Count Your Blessings turns into a farcical divorce drama where the little bratling decides to keep pitting his separated parents against each other - even as they both wish to reconcile - so that he can continue to get bigger and better gifts from each other. Then it turns into a "little boy lost in Paris" yarn - with more than enough yarn on-hand to make at least twenty-kajillion floor rugs for each year you've lost from your lifespan by watching Count Your Blessings. Heck, I even found time to sew up a hole in the crotch of my trousers while watching this dreadful bore of an unfunny "family" comedy, so I guess the movie might be of interest for anyone with a need to stick needles into things.

The Warner Archive Collection releases this box office flop from the writer of Ben-Hur (seriously) that was - probably loosely - based on a novel by Nancy Mitford. Presented in as unrestored of a condition as can be (note that beautiful pinkish skin tone most everyone has in the film), the title is preserved for future generations to curse themselves after viewing in its original 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio. One of those big-budget movies to sport an illustrious four-channel stereo track when initially unleashed to some unsuspecting patrons back in '59 (just what exactly were they thinking?), this Manufactured-on-Demand disc features a simpler stereo audio option. A non-anamorphic widescreen trailer - which oddly tries to market the film as a heartfelt drama - is also included as the only bonus item.

So then, what else can I say for a movie which bore the tagline "Marry in haste...resent at leisure"? Not much, really, except that, if you haven't seen it, Count Your Blessings.

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