Generally, when the TV guide describes a movie as “a bit of fluff,” as it did in the case of Everything I Have Is Yours, I’m not expecting much in terms of drama. So, I was perhaps particularly blindsided by this movie, which, although a musical on the surface (and in the TV guide), is also a meditative drama on the volatile nature of relationships, marriage, and family, with a particular focus on the gender roles of its era. Pretty heady stuff for a 1952 MGM musical, especially when I came in expecting a light vehicle for dancers Marge and Gower Champion.
Chuck and Pamela Hubbard, like the actors who played them, are a husband-and-wife dance team known for their tight, precise choreography and colorful numbers. After their first show on Broadway though, Pamela collapses, and they realize she’s pregnant. Chuck is overjoyed, but the doctor says she can no longer perform every night, so Pam reluctantly steps to the sidelines to attend to her growing family. Pam’s platinum blonde understudy, Sybil (Monica Lewis), gamely takes over for her for the rest of the show’s run–as well as taking her place in the show after that, and the one after that. Pamela sees her Broadway dreams slowly slipping away, while her husband spends more and more time with Sybil, who calls him “angel,” “darling,” “dear.” When Pam broaches the idea of returning to the stage in a new show, Chuck fumes that a mother should spend her time raising their child, and refuses to consider it. As you may expect, this ruling does not go over well with Pam, and by the end of the next scene, they’re officially divorced.
Due to the limitations dictated by the plot, there’s an unfortunate lack of Champion partner dancing in the film, which is regrettable given it was really their only starring role. There is a great number in that first Broadway show called “Casbah,” in which Pam plays a naive tourist, and Chuck is a rough-and-tumble gangster-type. The choreography makes great use of the ultra-precise, synchronized movements that make the Champions such a joy to watch. Once Pamela is sidelined with child, we do get a few more good solo numbers: Chuck has a fun dance meant to amuse the baby, which involves vaulting around the room and utilizing the baby’s crib as a launching point (and, remarkably, even a few long takes with the baby in the shot, which seems gutsy from a simple filmmaking perspective–what if Gower landed the jump perfectly, but the baby began to cry?); later, Pam wows a party of former stage buddies with a little number she happened to have rehearsed between changing diapers.
Although some of the film’s moments are a bit dated, they’re mostly limited to assumptions–of course they’ll raise the baby, of course Pam will quit her job, and so on–but the overall theme of men, women, and their roles in a relationship is something that remains remarkably universal even 50 years later. Maybe the most distractingly “dated” element was the fact that Pam is never shown visibly pregnant, even as they’re on their way to the hospital to delivery the baby. This film came out only four years after the first pregnancy was even depicted on television, so perhaps it’s no surprise that they avoid showing it or even uttering the word “pregnant.”
The drama of the film is really what made it for me, and in fact it’s one of those films that is hard to watch as a modern viewer, because there were times when I wasn’t sure that the movie’s idea of a “happy ending” was going to be the same as mine. Monica Lewis is painfully great as the catty Sybil, whose passive, backhanded compliments are just exceptionally cruel and land right between the ribs (“Your hands are so soft! I need to borrow some of that dishwater!”). There are a few fun song-and-dance numbers, but in that regard, I hesitate to fully recommend it as a musical where, by means of plot, the audience is deprived of any Marge and Gower Champion numbers for the majority of the film.
Everything I Have Is Yours is not available for streaming, rental, or purchase… so make sure to set the DVR next time it airs on TCM, I guess?