Considering the amount of talent involved on both sides of the camera, why RKO's BEHAVE YOURSELF (1951) fails as entertainment is most baffling. Produced by Norman Krasna and Jerry Wald, with photography by James Wong Howe, a theme song written by Buddy Ebsen and a cast that includes at least eight well-known actors, none of these can save this movie from itself.
Perhaps the script is poorly crafted. There's clearly zero chemistry between the leads and Mr. Granger struggles in a "frustrated by circumstances" role best suited to Cary Grant. One watches this, recognizes all the familiar faces, and wants to savor the movie, get into what should be a delicious story, but it's nearly impossible. The ultimate answer for this flop may be found in that late '50s stageplay GYPSY, when brassy Rose, mother to Gypsy Rose Lee declares with utmost confidence: "Ya either got it, or ya ain't."
That's it! The missing ingredient, that secret of success which eluded all involved with BEHAVE YOURSELF... is confidence. For all its fluster, bluster and busy-ness, an undercurrent of well-hidden timidity doomed this picture to an oblivion from which it has since been needlessly rescued by various public domain and budget brand home video manufacturers.
If you like the people in this curio by all means spend the 80 minutes to see it, there's surely worse out there. But when it's over and if you too feel something's lacking here, please remember that when it comes to motion pictures, "pizazz," "oomph" and "it" have, like lightning bolts, always been impossible to control, predict or bottle. So, has BEHAVE YOURSELF "got it"? Frankly... it ain't.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.
(5.9) Behave Yourself (1951) - Farley Granger/Shelley Winters/Bill Demarest/Margalo Gillmore/Lon Chaney Jr./Hans Conried/Elisha Cook Jr./Allen Jenkins/Sheldon Leonard/Marvin Kaplan