One Touch of Venus is a light-hearted fantasy and comedy, a type of film that used to be far more prevalent than it is now and one that keeps its audience smiling from start to finish as a statue comes to vivid life.
Starring Ava Gardner as the titular goddess, she has arguably never been more beautiful, nor as funny as she is in this film despite starring in dozens of them over more than forty years. When in scene, she is definitely the center of attention, stealing the spotlight and it is obviously by design, but even if it were not, it would be hard to avert one’s eyes from her, so captivating is her presence. Robert Walker stars opposite Gardner, the man often appearing in comedies such as this and excelling at them more than anything else, though just as able in a drama or any type of picture he would lend his talents to. To his credit, he does his best and he is quite hilarious at times as the befuddled leading man, but next to Gardner, he pales in comparison, the woman absolutely commanding the stage. Suffice it to say, Gardner is the main takeaway from the film but the supporting cast also shines quite brightly with Dick Haymes as best friend to Walker’s Eddie Hatch, Olga San Juan as Hatch’s girlfriend who soon finds true love with Haymes, Tom Conway as the beleaguered boss who owns the department store where everything takes place and the genius Eve Arden whose killer one-liners keep the laughs rolling along throughout the entirety of the movie.
Based upon the musical of the same name and directed by William A. Seiter, the film also contains a few musical numbers with Speak Low being the standout, though Gardner would only mime. Haymes of course would sing throughout, the man’s voice being as good as ever and the musical numbers would balance out the comedy and the drama perfectly, complimenting rather than hampering with the movie only featuring a few of them unlike the stage play it was derived from. Harry Kurnitz and Frank Tashlin would write a smart script and with such a talented cast bringing it all to life, there is not a single moment the audience would dare to miss.
From beginning to end, whether surrounded by a multitude of cast members in the park or alone on the screen with Walker, Gardner would shine as the Goddess of Love in a fantasy that one cannot help but enjoy. Walker and Arden and the rest are fantastic, but this is Gardner’s film more than anyone else’s and though she would go on to many more roles throughout her life, both on screen and off, One Touch of Venus would remain one of her very best.
5 out of 5