This is my entry for Backlots's Dueling Divas Blogathon. This blogathon was a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant idea - and I'm so excited to read everyone else's posts! Note: For those who care, there are spoilers in the following...somewhere in there...so beware!
The Forest Rangers (1942) is about, yes, forest rangers! Does that sound even vaguely interesting? I didn't think so, but I was WRONG. Not only was it entertaining in an adventurous/suspenseful way, but it was also hilarious! Of course, most of the hilarity coming from our two leading ladies, Susan Hayward and Paulette Goddard, who are fighting over forest ranger Fred MacMurray (imagine that!).
Susan Hayward plays Tana "Butch" Mason, who runs a lumber mill and works alongside the forest rangers. As far as we can see she's been in love with Don Stuart (Fred MacMurray's character) forever, but since he considers her "one of the boys" the love is not returned.
Paulette Goddard plays Celia Huston, and a city girl is she! While Don is in town trying to find out who started the most recent forest fire, he literally runs into Celia and they get married later that night.
How do you think Tana (who thinks she's almost caught Don) feels about their marriage?! Of course, Tana isn't happy at all; and from the moment she meets Celia you can see the sabotage in her eyes. Then Celia starts to get suspicious of Tana so she takes to trying to get rid of Tana too, but in a more, shall we say, sophisticated way.
Personally, I like Paulette Goddard better than Susan Hayward as far as actresses go. Susan was absolutely fantastic, but I just like Paulette better.
As far as their characters go: I liked Paulette, then no one, then Paulette again.
For the whole movie, Tana was a jerk. Acting like she had some sort of hold on Don just because she had been in love with him for a long time - to heck with whoever is married to him, she wanted him to herself! I guess someone could argue that Tana probably felt hurt, nevertheless, I liked Celia better. She was just trying to prove that she was worthy of Don: learning all the forest ranger lingo and dressing the part, you know. Plus, you kinda have to feel bad for the poor girl, she was such a wimp in that first part of the movie.
Then, for about a half-hour after the first forty-five minutes, the movie is incredibly annoying. Because awesome-little-miss-hero-girl Celia decides to call her influential father and ask him have Don transferred somewhere at least 1,000 miles away from Tana. It's terribly under-handed of her. For this reason, Don gets angry at her, their relationship stands in ruins, and both of them are ready to hit the road.
In the last ten minutes or so, Celia realizes she was wrong and heads down to the site of the latest fire to help with what she can. Then Don tells Celia and Tana to go to town to get more people to help fight the fire. On the way, they get trapped by the fire with no apparent means of escape. It turns out that Celia is a lot braver than we thought; and Tana is a lot wimpier, as she sits there safely letting Celia protect them. At the end, Don realizes how awesome Celia is and we all...re-realize it.
There's really nothing better than watching two girls battle it out on screen (hence the greatness of the idea of this blogathon). The funniest scene in this duel is when Tana, Don, and Celia are sleeping outside in the freezing degrees because Tana accidentally pushed their car down a hill. The girls are using all their imagination to be the one sleeping next to Don: Celia pretends there's some sort of creature, Tana pokes Celia with a [big] stick, Celia makes Don get up to fix the fire...it's hilarious. And as they're fighting for the blanket Tana says, "Lot different than a night club isn't it?" and Celia says, "I don't know there still seems to be a cover charge!".
Before I finish - there's one line, when Tana first meets Celia and they're being so sickeningly sweet to each other, one ranger says, "Do you follow that?" and the other replies, "Sounds like it's done in code".
In code, that's how we girls fight, gentlemen - we do it in code.
Until Later On~