All right, everybody, pack your bags, we’re off again to the state of Hawaii, circa 1939, with Honolulu, starring Eleanor Powell and Robert Young!
Now in some respects, this is a “Prince and the Pauper” type of movie, with Robert Young playing the dual role of Brooks Mason, a movie star, and his Hawaiian lookalike George Smith. Now they meet when George Smith is mistaken for Brooks Mason at the premiere for one of Mason’s movies, gets mobbed by the public, and is then taken to Mason’s home by the ambulance. Now Mason has been wanting a break, but his agent and the studio keep making him work, so he decides to switch places with Smith and goes to Hawaii, Smith’s home. Now on the way there, he meets Dorothy March (Eleanor Powell). He falls for her, but he runs into trouble on isles with Smith’s fiancé and her father. Now meanwhile, Smith is getting mobbed continuously in New York, particularly as he keeps trying to get out of there. SO the remaining trouble for the rest of the movie then becomes how they can both make the switch back to their own lives.
Now my own opinion here is that this movie is a lot of fun. Prior to my first viewing of this movie, I had heard it said that Eleanor Powell was considered, at the time, to be one of the few ladies capable of out-dancing Fred Astaire, but from the movies I had seen, I never believed it until I saw this movie.
Now Eleanor only has three routines in this movie, but I would say that two of the three in particular really showcase just what she could do. Now her first routine is to the title song, where we see her start dancing with Gracie Allen on the ship, but then she goes off on her own, and we see just how good she could be as she jumps rope AND tap dances AT THE SAME TIME, both handling the jump rope herself, as well as having others do it for her. Now, for me personally, this is an amazing routine, and one I know I have never quite had the coordination to pull off (not exactly helped by my height when it comes to jumping rope).
The other routine worth mentioning is her hula dance on the islands, which is her third and final dance in the movie. Now, at the start of the dance, we see her doing her version of the more traditional hula, barefoot, and then partway through, she puts on her tap shoes (offscreen of course), and then she tap dances while simultaneously doing the hula. I really think this routine is a lot of fun, and definitely worth watching in and of itself.
The other routine, her second one, is probably one of the points of the movie that might bother people. On the ship, they have one night for everybody to come dressed as their favorite movie stars/ celebrities. As part of the show, she does a tribute to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, in blackface. Now, the dancing itself, isn’t too bad, but again, the blackface may bother many people. Since this isn’t exactly a moment that is important to the plot, it would be easy enough to just skip right past this moment, if you were so inclined.
Other than the issues with blackface, I think this movie is very enjoyable, and one I recommend. The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.
Thanks for tuning in everybody, and enjoy your stay in beautiful Honolulu!
Film Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
*ranked #10 in Top 11 Movies Watched in 2018
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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Bride Comes Home (1935) – Robert Young