Three Guys Named Mike

Three Guys Named Mike. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1951.

Before watching the movie:

This seems like more of a pulp kind of movie, something produced to have something fresh to bring audiences to the theater. It’s likely a contract picture. The title is almost as unimaginative as the choices in the 2018 TX-10 US representative race. They don’t have to all be named Mike, but it’s an extra gimmick to create a little more interest in a love-polygon story.

So, three romance stories in one movie, with the tension coming from the fact that only one of them can end completely happily. Not the worst way to spend 90 minutes.

After watching the movie:

Marcy Lewis leaves her small-town Indiana home to become an airline stewardess so she can see the world and get to know passengers. On her first flight, she gets rattled by starting on the wrong foot with the pilot, Captain Mike Jamison, and accidentally declares the plane ready to take off before the meals have been loaded, forcing the plane to return to the airport when she realizes her mistake. Jamison gets her a second chance, and on another flight, she meets passenger Mike Lawrence, a graduate assistant, and also breaks company rules in letting a little girl who can’t sleep have her dog in the cabin. While grounded, Marcy meets Mike Tracy, an advertising executive, and pitches an idea to his boss on partnering his soap company client with American Airlines, having stewardesses as the spokespeople. When Marcy and four of her coworkers get a bungalow together, all three Mikes arrive to help her move in, and are immediately jealous of each other.

I didn’t expect the Mikes to interact significantly, but they met what seemed like very early in the story. Maybe it was actually about halfway and there’s just a lot of setup to get to that point, as the story has four main characters to introduce in turn. But for a significant part of the movie, they know each other and compete for Marcy’s attention, and by the end, when Marcy makes a decision, the two left behind know each other well enough to be friendly about the result.

A big point is made about how good Marcy is with passengers that I wish we’d seen more than heard about. In Jamison’s chapter, “everyone on the plane left loving her and in high spirits” is a major factor in his pitch to his boss to not fire Marcy, but we didn’t get to see her talent with them, and I would very much like to see how not a single person on a flight that she personally forced to return to the airport for food disembarked with anything less than fond memories of her. Since she meets Lawrence as a passenger, we get to see a little bit of Marcy’s touch with him and with the girl, but aside from that there’s just one other passengers scene and it’s about fending off advances from amorous men who don’t understand “no”.

Reviewing a summary, it seems that a significant portion of the story can be summed up in less than one sentence after all the setup. The rivalry between the Mikes plays out over several scenes, but it’s easy for a synopsis to go straight from “they meet” to the climax, completely eliding the scenes that they compete and further court Marcy. The whole point of watching the movie is in that fluff that can be ignored for purposes of summarizing the plot.

At times it was very easy to connect with the story, at other times, it just blurs. The thing that’s most memorable is how much of a presence American Airlines got themselves in the movie. It leaves the impression of being a bit of a romance lark through a 90-minute American commercial. Though with Marcy being such an unconventional and often disastrous stewardess, is it really good publicity?

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