TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… In The Navy (1941)

Starting off our next Abbott and Costello double-feature, we have the 1941 comedy In The Navy, also starring Dick Powell!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Robin Hood-Winked (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)

Popeye is Robin Hood and must rescue Olive from the tax collector, Bluto. Yet another Popeye vs. Bluto cartoon. The Robin Hood angle makes it fun for sure, with a number of rather funny gags. Of course, it pales in comparison to the Looney Tunes versions of Robin Hood with either Bugs or Daffy, but it was still worth a few good laughs just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After one of his shows, popular singer Russ Raymond (Dick Powell) disappears, leading to a nationwide search by his fans and the press. Reporter Dorothy Roberts (Claire Dodd) finds him, and discovers he plans to enlist in the navy under his real name, Tommy Halstead. However, she is unable to prove it, and tries to find ways to get pictures of Tommy. Meanwhile, Tommy’s new navy buddies, Smokey Adams (Bud Abbott) and Pomeroy Watson (Lou Costello) are having troubles of their own. Pomeroy is in love with Patty Andrews, one of the Andrews Sisters, but she doesn’t like him as much. At the nightclub where the Andrews Sisters are performing, the three men get into a brawl, and as a result are transferred to an active battleship. Dorothy sneaks aboard the ship, and is stuck with them as the ship takes off for Hawaii. Upon arriving, she gets her picture proof of Tommy, and the ship is soon besieged with Russ Raymond fans, while Tommy figures out how to escape his new predicament.

While it was Abbott and Costello’s third film to be released to theatres, In The Navy was actually the fourth one they filmed. They had already filmed Hold That Ghost, but the success of Buck Privates led to the studio going for another service picture. Abbott and Costello were joined again by the Andrews Sisters, who were given a little more to do in this movie, other than singing some patriotic and boogie woogie tunes, as Lou’s character was attempting to romance Patty Andrews. The main problem encountered in finishing this movie was getting the U.S. Navy’s approval. They had originally objected to a sequence involving Lou pretending to be the ship’s captain as he gave orders to the ship’s crew for different maneuvers. The filmmakers decided to make that a dream sequence by adding some extra footage, and so they got the Navy’s approval.

For me, In The Navy has been one of my go-to films amongst the Abbott and Costello filmography. Obviously, it’s still a lot of fun with the boys doing more of their comedy routines, which here include “The Lemon Bit,” “7 x 13 = 28” and “Sons Of Neptune” (AKA “Buzzing The Sea”) (and they are joined by former/future Stooge Shemp Howard on them to boot). Any of those moments are guaranteed to have me rolling around in fits of laughter, easily making it worth it! While the Andrews Sisters only have one memorable tune (well, for me anyways) with “Gimme Some Skin, My Friend,” I also can’t help but enjoy the song “We’re In The Navy,” sung first by Dick Powell and then sung again with the Andrews Sisters to end the movie. I guarantee, every time I watch the movie, the song gets stuck in my head (but I’m not complaining)! I’ll admit, the romance between Dick Powell and Claire Dodd’s characters isn’t one of the film’s strengths, but the rest of the movie is worth it! I know this was a successful movie as it certainly had its copycats (I’d swear that the 1944 Bing Crosby movie Here Come The Waves is quite similar, with a crooner wanting to be in the Navy and get away from his fans). A very fun movie here with In The Navy, and one I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory as part of the 28-film The Complete Abbott & Costello Universal Pictures Collection.

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Susan Slept Here (1954)

As fond as I am of Christmas movies, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of the Happy Holidays Blogathon, hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (and I thank them for letting me join in on the festivities)! And with that, it’s time for the 1954 comedy Susan Slept Here with Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds!

Screenwriter Mark Christopher (Dick Powell) has been in a rut ever since he won an Oscar. On Christmas Eve, one cop (who had consulted on one of Mark’s movies) and his partner bring 17-year-old juvenile delinquent Susan Landis (Debbie Reynolds) to his apartment, since Mark had previously mentioned to the cop that he had wanted to talk to a juvenile delinquent to help come up with a story. They leave her there, with plans to come back the day after Christmas so she doesn’t have to spend the holiday in jail. Susan doesn’t trust Mark (and he’s not thrilled with the idea, either), but after spending part of the night gaining each other’s trust (especially after Susan accidentally causes a fight between Mark and his girlfriend), they start to open up to each other. Mark learns about Susan making her mother go on a honeymoon with her new husband (which she only agrees to after Susan claimed she wanted to marry a guy she knew and her mother gave her written consent). When the police come back quicker than expected, he decides to take Susan to Las Vegas to get married (so that she would have a means of support and not go back to jail). After dancing all night at the clubs, they returned to Mark’s apartment, where he left a sleeping Susan and immediately left to go work on a story at a cabin in the mountains. While he’s away, he tries to have his lawyer get Susan to sign some annulment papers, but she is convinced that she has married the man she loves. The question remaining is whether he will come to the same conclusion?

Personally, I’m of the opinion that this movie qualifies as a Christmas movie. I’ll admit, there is some room for debate, but close to half the movie does take place around that time. And after all, the cops are trying to offer Susan a delay in being arrested to begin with due to the holiday spirit! But it’s still a fun movie to watch any time of the year.

And what a cast! We have Dick Powell as one of the leads (who, at 50, admittedly looks older than the 35-year-old character he’s supposed to be playing), who plays the character as sympathetic, without him ever making any advances. Alvy Moore is fun as Mark’s buddy Virgil, who works for Mark (but doing what, who knows, as Susan calls it when she says it is a “phony job”), and Virgil is certainly a much more lucid character than I’m used to with Alvy Moore, considering he is best known as the ever confused (and confusing) county agent Hank Kimball on classic sitcom Green Acres. Anne Francis is Mark’s fiance Isabella Alexander, who is generally a hoot as the spoiled daughter of a senator, and she spends most of her screen time furious with Susan, either when she answers Mark’s phone or when they meet in person. Comedian Red Skelton gets a quick, silent cameo near the end of the movie.

But Debbie Reynolds is the heart of this movie as Susan Landis, and makes it work so well! From the moment we meet her, when she is screaming and fighting with the cop as he tries to drag her in (and she does it in a way only Debbie Reynolds could do), we see just how she got into trouble (but at the same time, can easily understand why she would be putting up such a fuss). As we get to know her along with Mark, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her by the time the cops come back early. And I know I’m cheering for her when she has the police escort Isabella from the apartment (especially since the cop carrying Isabella out had just had a picture frame purposely dropped on his feet by Isabella only a few moments before). The dream sequence is a little odd, but Debbie makes up for it (even though it has some dancing, I can’t quite call it a dream ballet, as it utilizes Dick Powell, Alvy Moore and Anne Francis besides Debbie, but she is the only one really doing much dancing). As a whole, just a wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime (or any other time of the year)! It may be the type that wouldn’t get made today (and for good reason), but it’s still a lot of fun!

While the Warner Archive Collection had previously made this movie available on DVD, their Blu-ray release a few years back was a wonderful improvement, really bringing out some of the vivid colors! So that would certainly be the way I would recommend seeing this almost-forgotten gem!

Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Murder, My Sweet (1944) – Dick Powell

Give A Girl A Break (1953) – Debbie Reynolds – Athena (1954)

Lovely To Look At (1952) – Red Skelton – Ocean’s 11 (1960)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Murder, My Sweet (1944)

Continuing on with the month of “Noir-vember,” we have the 1944 film Murder, My Sweet, starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley!

One night in his office, private detective Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) is visited by Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki). Moose wants to hire him to find his girlfriend, Velma Valento, who is missing after eight years. They don’t have any luck, but at least one person Philip talks to seems to know more than they let on. Soon, he is contacted by Lindsay Marriott (Douglas Walton), who wants to hire him as a bodyguard while he pays the ransom for some jewels. However, things don’t go well, and Lindsay is killed, with Philip also conked. After the police question Philip and warn him to stay away from psychic Jules Amthor (Otto Kruger), Philip returns to his office. There, he is met by Ann Grayle (Anne Shirley), who tries (and fails) to pose as a reporter. She reveals that it is her stepmother, Helen Grayle (Claire Trevor), who owns the jade necklace that had been stolen and Lindsay was trying to recover. Ann’s father, Mr. Grayle (Miles Mander), ends up hiring Philip to help find the jade necklace, but he finds the two cases intersecting as Amthor uses Moose to help shake information out of Philip on the location of the necklace.  But will Philip live to tell the tale?

Murder, My Sweet is based on the 1940 novel Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. RKO Studios had already bought the film rights and made a film just a few years before. However, the movie, The Falcon Takes Over (1942), was used as part of another detective franchise, replacing Philip Marlowe with detective Gay Lawrence (AKA the Falcon), and changing a lot from the novel. Due to some of the substantial changes made, it was easier to convince the studio heads to do a re-make so quickly. Of course, while he was cast as Philip Marlowe, Dick Powell was hardly who anybody would have picked for the role. At the time, he was typecast in a lot of musical roles, due mainly to the success of some of the Busby Berkeley films he starred in, such as 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, and a number of others. He was getting tired of them, but that’s all the studios wanted to cast him in. When signing with RKO, that’s what they wanted him to do as well, but he apparently had enough power to get it into his contract that he could do this movie. Of course, the movie was briefly released by the novel’s original title, Farewell, My Lovely, but, due to Dick Powell’s reputation, audiences thought they were going to see a musical, and came away disappointed. But, the title was changed, and the film became a hit, allowing audiences to see Dick Powell in a new light!

My own opinion is that this is a great noir. I love the dialogue, which gives us such vivid descriptions, and of a type that would not seem at home in any other film genre. The visuals, from the “smoke” when he is all “coked up” to the screen going black when the character is knocked out and many other instances, all make this movie a fun experience. While I mainly know Dick Powell from some of his musicals and comedies, this film is a wonderful change of pace, and he just works so well in it! It’s definitely an easy thing for me to give this movie some of my highest recommendations for a film noir!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. Since I had heard that it was given one of their usually fantastic transfers, it was an easy movie for me to give a chance, as I hadn’t seen or heard of it before then! And I’m glad to have seen it! The movie is one hour, thirty-five minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

In The Navy (1941) – Dick Powell – Susan Slept Here (1954)

Claire Trevor – Raw Deal (1948)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

If you’re in the money, then I hope you’re here as we get into the classic musical Gold Diggers Of 1933, starring Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mush And Milk (1933)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 4 (1933-1935) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 18 minutes, 18 seconds)

The gang are all stuck at a boarding school run by a cranky old lady (Louise Emmons).  Her husband, Cap (Gus Leonard) promises to give the kids a better life when his back pension comes through.  This one was a bit of fun.  It did tread some similar ground to what we’ve seen before, especially with the ways that the kids answered questions in school (but it’s still quite entertaining).  The most memorable and hilarious bit in this short was how Dickie (Dickie Moore) and Stymie (Matthew Beard) milked a cow with a vacuum cleaner (now why didn’t I think of that? 😉 ).  It’s sad knowing that this was the last short for Dickie Moore, Bobby “Wheezer” Hutchins and Dorothy DeBorba, but it was a fun sendoff just the same!

Coming Up Shorts! with… We’re In The Money (1933)

(Available as an extra on the Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 46 seconds)

When the department store is closed up for the night, everything comes to life!  This entry in Warner’s Merrie Melodies series mainly has the characters singing and dancing to the song “We’re In The Money.”  It’s interesting, if only because the song itself is fun.  There are some amusing gags here (particularly when some coins start singing along as well as some then-current celebrity caricatures), but that’s the most that can be said about this otherwise plot-less cartoon.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pettin’ In The Park (1934)

(Available as an extra on the Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes)

In the park, several couples cuddle up together (particularly a policeman and a maid).  Later on, a group of birds hold a swimming contest.  Another entry in the Merrie Melodies series, this one features the song (wait for it….) “Pettin’ In The Park.”  Given the short’s two distinct “plots” (if you can even call them that), it’s really not that interesting.  There are a few humorous gags and the song itself is fun, but that’s about all that can be said about this forgettable short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song (1933)

(Available as an extra on the Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)

People tune in to a radio station to listen to the song “I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song.”  Yet another Merrie Melodies cartoon with a focus on the title song (and zero plot).  There’s some fun to be found here with some of the various celebrities that have been caricatured (that is, if you have any idea who some of them are).  Some of the jokes work well, but they’re still not enough to carry yet another underwhelming song-focused cartoon (even if the song itself is good).

Coming Up Shorts! with… Rambling Round Radio Row #2 (1932)

(Available as an extra on the Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 11 seconds)

This short contains several musical numbers.  There’s no real plot here, as it starts off with a focus on a trio of singers as they rehearse in composer Burton Lane’s room on board a ship, before switching to a pair of saxophonists and then finishing with a young lady singing in her room.  None of the music is that memorable, but Harry Barris doing “Music Has Charms” is fun, as is the pair of saxophonists (Rudy Wiedoeft and Bennie Krueger) with their comedic bits.  Not an overly memorable program, but at least it has some fun reasons to see it every now and then.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The 42nd Street Special (1933)

(Available as an extra on the Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 5 minutes, 45 seconds)

This short contains the send-off of a train dubbed the “42nd Street Special” as it leaves L.A. and makes its way to Washington, D.C. for the presidential inauguration of FDR.  There are a few familiar names and faces, like a very young Bette Davis and executives like Jack Warner and Darryl F. Zanuck.  Given that it’s mostly some quick speeches, it’s not very memorable.  Any appeal that this short has is purely from a historical standpoint, since it was part of Warner Brothers’ campaign to help promote 42nd Street (1933).

Coming Up Shorts! with… Seasoned Greetings (1933)

(Available as an extra on the Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 19 minutes, 47 seconds)

Lita (Lita Grey Chaplin) runs a greeting card store, but her dishonest neighbor/competitor is taking away all her business.  Then Lita comes up with the idea to sell talking “cards” (records). Later on, she also decides to make the records out of chocolate, which appeals to kids.  It’s an interesting short.  There are a few fun musical moments (particularly with songs from Gold Diggers Of 1933), and one comical moment of the competitor mixing up records (although we only see the reaction of one recipient).  It’s not the best acted short, but it provided some entertainment (and it was fun seeing a very young Sammy Davis Jr.).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Producer Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) has an idea for a show, but no cash to put it on with. He encounters songwriter Brad Roberts (Dick Powell) when he is meeting with some of the chorus girls from Barney’s attempted shows.  Brad puts up the money to do the show, as long as his girlfriend Polly Parker (Ruby Keeler) is given the lead. When the male lead has issues with lumbago, Brad has to go on in his place. The show is successful, but it is revealed that Brad is actually Robert Treat Bradford, a member of a wealthy society family. His older brother, J. Lawrence Bradford (Warren William) is less than thrilled that Brad is involved in show business, but he is particularly adamant that Brad should not go out with Polly, since Lawrence and the family lawyer Faneuil Peabody (Guy Kibbee) believe all chorus girls are gold diggers. Lawrence and Faneuil come to Polly’s apartment, and mistake one of her roommates, Carol King (Joan Blondell) for her. Carol and her other roommate Trixie Lorraine (Aline MacMahon) decide to play along with the mistake and get back at them for insulting them.  While it’s a game for the gals at first, they do start to have real feelings for the two men (and vice versa).

After the success of 42nd Street (1933), Warner Brothers quickly followed up with Gold Diggers Of 1933, bringing back a lot of the same cast, choreographer Busby Berkeley and songwriters Harry Warren and Al Dubin (and make sure you note who the songwriters are, as that helps make at least one line early in the movie that much funnier). But for the story, they made use of a Broadway show called The Gold Diggers which they had already filmed twice before, once as a silent film in 1923 and again as an early talkie in 1929 (The Gold Diggers Of Broadway, which is sadly now a lost film with the exception of a few surviving reels). Busby Berkeley was given more freedom and a bigger budget to work with for this movie, resulting in four big numbers, including the song “Remember My Forgotten Man,” which drew inspiration from the then-recent Bonus March (in which veterans of the first world war, suffering from the effects of the Depression, tried and failed to claim their government pensions that had been promised to them after the war).

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the songs “We’re In The Money” and the “Shadow Waltz.”  “We’re In The Money” is probably this film’s most iconic number, starting us off with a group of chorus girls, led by Ginger Rogers, singing on stage how the Depression is over for them, as they are (literally) covered in money, only for the number to end early when a sheriff and his deputies come in and take everything because the show’s producer hadn’t paid the bills.  Of course, Ginger makes the song memorable by doing part of it in pig Latin (which was apparently something she was doing offscreen just for fun and, when somebody heard her doing it, they suggested she do it in the movie).  “Shadow Waltz,” while not quite as well known, is still visually entertaining as we see the dancers moving around with neon-lit violins, especially for Busby Berkeley’s trademark overhead shots.

There are definitely two distinct halves to this movie.  The first half focuses on everybody trying to put on the show and on the relationship between Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler’s characters.  The second half switches things up by emphasizing the gold digger aspects as Warren William’s character mistakenly tries to end his brother’s relationship and is instead taken for a ride by the roommates.  This situation works, and definitely keeps the movie from essentially repeating the earlier 42nd Street.  Overall, Gold Diggers Of 1933 is a very fun pre-Code film, and one that is highly recommended!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

On February 8, 2022, Warner Archive Collection released Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) on Blu-ray.  The transfer comes from a scan of the best preservation elements, and it looks fantastic!  It’s an understatement to say that it shows off all the details of the sets and costumes, especially for the various musical numbers!  The image has been cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris.  As usual, this Warner Archive release really shines as an example of a great restoration.  The Blu-ray is highly recommended as the best way to see this movie, and goes quite well with their earlier Blu-rays for 42nd Street and Footlight Parade (1933)!

Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Warren William – Upper World (1934)

The Public Enemy (1931) – Joan Blondell – Footlight Parade (1933)

42nd Street (1933) – Ruby Keeler – Footlight Parade (1933)

42nd Street (1933) – Dick Powell – Footlight Parade (1933)

42nd Street (1933)Ginger RogersProfessional Sweetheart (1933)

Blonde Venus (1932) – Sterling Holloway – Professional Sweetheart (1933)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… 42nd Street (1933)

You know, “you’re getting to be a habit with me,” but we’re back for the classic 1933 backstage musical 42nd Street, starring Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler and Guy Kibbee.

Director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) has plans to do one more show, which he needs to be successful so he can quit with a huge bank account. Big star Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels) secures a prominent role in the show through her “sugar daddy” Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee) backing the show. However, she is still in love with her former vaudeville partner Pat Denning (George Brent), and they keep meeting in secret. Pat is fed up with their secret relationship, and leaves town to find work elsewhere. As Julian drills everybody in his attempt to bring the show together, they end up taking the show to try it out in Philadelphia, where Pat has gone. Pat has been spending time with chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler), which makes Dorothy jealous. The night before the show opens, Dorothy gets drunk, tells off Abner, and, as she tries to fight with Pat, she sprains her ankle. Julian is forced to consider postponing the show, until it is suggested that Peggy could handle the lead. Julian works with her to bring her up to speed, in the hopes that they might still be able to put together a great show.

42nd Street is famous at least partly for reviving the film musical. At the time, the genre’s popularity had sunk pretty low, due partly to audiences losing their taste for the plotless musicals that had dominated the genre after the advent of sound. Choreographer Busby Berkeley was a major reason for the film’s success. The previous film musicals had struggled with how they were filming dance, but he figured out some better ways to do it, getting the camera to move as well. He was in charge of quite a lot for his dance numbers, as he helped design the various sets for them. Of course, having the perfect cast helped, too.

This is one of those movies that is certainly fun to watch every now and then. I’ll admit, for modern audiences who prefer the music to help advance the plot, this movie is a tough sell, as almost none of the music does so. The closest anything comes is the song “It Must Be June.” The lyrics have nothing to do with it, but watching the “rehearsal,” one can’t help but feel like it is something that has been done time and time again (which Julian Marsh accuses it of being), with the cast seemingly doing it halfheartedly (with Ginger Rogers and Una Merkel’s characters carrying on a conversation like it was nothing). Other than that, the music really doesn’t advance the plot, but it’s all still oh so fun! Obviously the title tune is one of the best moments, starting off with Ruby Keeler dancing alone before being joined by the rest of the cast! “Young And Healthy” gives us a good introduction to Busby Berkeley’s use of overhead shots and various kaleidoscopic images, things that he would become known for. “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” is a fun tune, giving us Ruby Keeler paired up with Clarence Nordstrom, as a couple newly married on a train trip. The concept would kind of be revisited later that year in another Busby Berkeley film, Footlight Parade, although Ruby would be paired with Dick Powell for that one. Personally, I prefer “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” as I enjoy the song more, not to mention it actually has some dancing to it.

I know I can’t help but marvel at this movie. The movie makes much of being the debut of Ruby Keeler, who would be one of the first big dance stars for the decade. And yet, Ginger Rogers, who as “Anytime Annie” gives up her chance at stardom, believing Ruby’s character to be able to handle the lead, would end up actually being the bigger dance star, starting later in the year when she would be famously paired with Fred Astaire in their first film together, Flying Down To Rio. Still, this is a fun movie, and one I would very highly recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. Their restoration helps this movie soar, and the details are quite crisp, showing off Busby Berkeley’s show-stopping numbers quite easily. Certainly highly recommended either on its own or as a companion film to their recently released Blu-ray of the aforementioned Footlight Parade!!

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

You Said A Mouthful (1932)Ginger RogersGold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

Dick Powell – Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

George Brent – In Person (1935)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Footlight Parade (1933)

“By a waterfall, I’m calling you-hoo-hoo-hoo” so we can get into the classic 1933 Busby Berkeley musical Footlight Parade starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell!

Chester Kent (James Cagney) has been producing musical shows on the stage, but with the advent of talking pictures, he finds audiences don’t want to see them. After his producing partners show him a prologue (short little stage shows shown in between movies) and he stops at a chain drugstore for some aspirin, he gets the idea that producing prologues for many theaters would be cheaper than producing for one, and his partners like the idea. Their studio becomes a success, but Chester’s partners have no trouble cheating him out of the profits while he is continually trying to come up with ideas for prologues, especially when the competition is stealing his ideas through spies in the company. His secretary, Nan Prescott (Joan Blondell), is secretly in love with him, and does what she can to help get him out of trouble. They are given the opportunity to sign with Appolinaris (Paul Porcasi), who would use the prologues in many of his theatres, but they have to come up with three different prologues to test on audiences before he will sign.

Following the success of both 42nd Street and Gold Diggers Of 1933, Footlight Parade was put into production. James Cagney, who had been a song-and-dance man on the stage but had quickly become typecast as a gangster in the movies after his role in The Public Enemy, campaigned hard to get a role in this movie after seeing the success of the previous films. Obviously, he got the part, and he was teamed up with his then-frequent co-star Joan Blondell, a pairing that had worked since they both came to Hollywood a few years earlier to do Sinner’s Holiday (which they had done on Broadway). Of course, continuing on from the previous two films onscreen were Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Guy Kibbee, with 42nd Street director Lloyd Bacon returning. And, of course, Busby Berkeley, trying to figure out what to do next after his work on the previous films.

Personally, I consider this movie the best of the Busby Berkeley movies from the thirties for two reasons: James Cagney and the song “By A Waterfall.” “By A Waterfall” was Berkeley’s big number for this film, making use of an 80-by-40 foot swimming pool, and lighting that helps emphasize some of the various formations that the swimmers do. Of course, the song itself is a lot of fun and quite catchy, too! And getting to see another James Cagney musical is just as fun! Here, we get to see his style of dancing, as opposed to when he was trying to dance like the real George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Honestly, my biggest complaint with this movie is that we don’t get to see enough of him dancing! He mainly does most of his dancing to demonstrate what he wants with the different prologues, and his only musical number is the final “Shanghai Lil” (which I would say is probably the second best song in the movie), in which he dances with Ruby Keeler for about a minute and is otherwise doing some of the formations choreographed by Busby Berkeley (word of warning, though, as Ruby Keeler is made up to look a bit more Chinese for “Shanghai Lil”). For the most part, the movie is mostly a comedy more than a musical, as there is maybe one song before the final half hour (which is almost entirely comprised of three big musical numbers). Overall, a very fun movie and highly recommended!! (of course, as a pre-Code, there are enough elements in this movie that there is a little room for debate about how kid-friendly it is, but adults should definitely be able to enjoy this movie)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. Regarding the transfer for this new release, it looks FANTASTIC!! Seriously, I don’t know what else to say, as the team at WAC has done their usual phenomenal work here, and I only hope it sells well enough for them to work on the rest of the Busby Berkeley films (not to mention some of their other 30s musicals)!

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

**ranked #10 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Public Enemy (1931)James CagneyAngels With Dirty Faces (1938)

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) – Joan Blondell – Stand-In (1937)

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) – Dick Powell – In The Navy (1941)

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