What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… My Dream Is Yours (1949)

We’re back again with another 2021 Blu-ray debut, the 1949 film musical My Dream Is Yours, starring Jack Carson, Doris Day and Lee Bowman!

Note: As I had originally hinted last week, my plan was to have a review for the recent Blu-ray release of Ziegfeld Follies to post today (after having delayed that a week). I’m been struggling with writer’s block on that one, and between that and my opinion of My Dream Is Yours (originally planned as an entry in next month’s musical blogathon that I’m hosting), I decided to switch the publishing dates for these two (so hopefully my review of Ziegfeld Follies will actually be done finally for next month).

Coming Up Shorts! with… Shivering Shakespeare (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 26 seconds)

The kids all take part in a production of Quo Vadis for the Golden Age Dramatic League. This one was a lot of fun!! A lot of the humor was in the kids forgetting the dialogue for the play (and, all things considered, I can’t blame them)! Things go wrong, especially with some older kids throwing stuff at them throughout the performance. Of course, the slow-motion pie fight that ends this short makes for a wonderful and hilarious ending! This one is considered one of the classics in this early bunch (of the talkies), and I can’t disagree with that!

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Want To Be An Actor (1949)

(available as an extra on the My Dream Is Yours Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 56 seconds)

Joe McDoakes (George O’Hanlon) is an out-of-work actor, who keeps trying to make it big. This one is a decent short, with a few good gags here and there. Some of the humor is a bit forced, which is the biggest problem. There are some good moments, though. Frank Nelson as a theatrical agent is a hoot (although, to be fair, all he has to do is speak, and I’m in stitches)! Fred Clark also gets a brief part as a producer that Joe’s trying to read for, and essentially pays more attention to the card game he is playing than to Joe. Like I said, there are a few good moments, but this is an at best average Joe McDoakes short (at least, from those I’ve seen so far, anyway).

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Grass Is Always Greener (1950)

(available as an extra on the My Dream Is Yours Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 21 minutes, 24 seconds)

A group of ranch-hands are all grousing about their working conditions, and thinking strongly about quitting. Then a stranger named Windy (Chill Wills) arrives, and helps them realize just how good they have things there. I found this one quite entertaining, with a good moral to the story, as well. I’ll admit, it didn’t quite go the direction I expected it to (mainly, I thought, the way things worked when he came in, that Chill Wills’ Windy would turn out to be an angel or something), but that certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this one. It’s a very heartwarming short, and a good reminder of just how nice things can be sometimes when you look at it the right way. One I definitely would like to revisit again and again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Ham In A Role (1949)

(available as an extra on the My Dream Is Yours Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 48 seconds)

A dog wants to give up the slapstick comedy he’s been doing and be a Shakespearean actor. Of course, trying to rehearse at home, he finds himself dealing with the two Goofy Gophers! While not one that I’ve seen frequently, I will still admit to enjoying this cartoon! In general, I like the two gophers with their manners and their antics as they take on their various antagonists, and the Shakespearean dog makes things just as hilarious! Certainly worth seeing every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

The House Of Beauty, owned by Felix Hofer (S. Z. Sakall), is sponsoring the radio program “Hour Of Enchantment,” featuring popular singer Gary Mitchell (Lee Bowman). It’s just about time for Gary to renew his contract with Hofer, but he decides to turn it down, much to the chagrin of his agent, Doug Blake (Jack Carson). Doug tries to change his mind, but Gary instead invites Doug to join him as his secretary (which Doug refuses). Doug’s boss at the agency, Thomas Hutchins (Adolphe Menjou), urges him to make any concessions in order to get Gary to sign, but Doug refuses, believing that he can go to New York and find somebody else. His boss doesn’t want somebody else, so Doug decides to quit his job and go into business for himself. Now without an expense account, Doug borrows money from his new partner (and Hutchins’ secretary) Vivian Martin (Eve Arden) so that he can go to New York. He tries listening to various singers throughout the city, but doesn’t find anybody he likes. Finally, he comes to a bar, where the bartender tries to push his niece, who works at a jukebox service. The bartender’s niece, Martha Gibson (Doris Day), sings herself (instead of playing a record like she is supposed to do), and is fired by her boss. However, Doug likes what he heard, and decides to bring her back to L.A. (although she has to leave her young son, Freddie, behind with her uncle). Doug has Martha audition for Hofer, who likes her, but not her jazzy style of music. Of course, while she auditions, she also meets Gary Mitchell, and the two take a liking to each other. Since her audition for Hofer didn’t go as well as hoped, Doug has her move in with Vivian to help keep costs down. He tries to get Martha in front of anybody else who could give her a chance, but everyone turns her down. When she sees how much Doug seems to owe everybody, she decides to get a job in a nightclub working for Fred Grimes (Sheldon Leonard), but that job doesn’t last long. When Doug sees how down she is, he sends for her son Freddie, the sight of whom cheers her up quite a bit. When Doug overhears her singing Freddie to sleep with a lullaby, he realizes that he’s been trying to promote her with the wrong singing style, and decides to try again. However, his efforts to get Hofer to hear her don’t go well. Her big chance comes, though, when Gary Mitchell is too drunk to go on the “Hour Of Enchantment” radio program, and Doug barely manages to convince Hofer to give her a chance. But will this chance work out? And how will Gary react?

When making her film debut in Romance On The High Seas, Doris Day impressed director Michael Curtiz with her natural ability as an actress. Before finishing that film, he made plans for what would be her second film, My Dream Is Yours (which would reunite her with her Romance co-stars Jack Carson and S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall). Curtiz decided on a story that was essentially a remake of the earlier 1934 Warner Brothers film Twenty Million Sweethearts, adding in some ideas taken from Doris Day’s own life and career up to that point in time. The film also added in a dream sequence combining live-action and animation, featuring Bugs Bunny (a sequence that the director had to fight to keep as is, considering the studio wanted it FULLY animated).

I will admit that I enjoyed this movie! I thought that Doris Day’s performance improved from Romance to this film (although I thought she was pretty good in that film, too). I thought Jack Carson was also pretty good and funny, although in the comedy department, Eve Arden certainly steals her scenes as the put upon partner who has to keep financing the whole deal. The rest of the cast does well for me, too (especially S. Z. Sakall, who is always fun to watch). I like the movie overall. The biggest disappointment for me here is the music (hence, why I decided against using this review as an entry in my musical blogathon next month). Most of the music I personally find to be quite forgettable, and I really don’t like the title tune, which is made worse considering it’s sung multiple times throughout the film (as I’ve indicated before, I don’t mind hearing a song I like a bunch of times in the same movie, but, when I don’t like it, it just feels like the song is being rammed down your throat, and makes it even harder to like). While the song itself isn’t necessarily great, I will admit to liking the song “Freddie, Get Ready” with Bugs’ appearance (as well as a quick cameo from Tweety Bird, too). Like I said, I like the cast, I like the comedy, and I like the story. The music’s not the best, but it’s not enough for me to keep from recommending this one. I’d certainly suggest seeing it if you get the chance!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray makes use of a new HD transfer taken from an interpositive (IP) that had been made at some point recently from the original three-strip camera negative. Even if it’s not from the original negative, this transfer still looks gorgeous, showing off the color pretty well! It looks like it should, especially with all the dust and dirt cleaned up. It’s certainly good enough for me to recommend without hesitation!

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Romance On The High Seas (1948) – Jack Carson – Phffft (1954)

Romance On The High Seas (1948)Doris DayYoung Man With A Horn (1950)

You Were Never Lovelier (1942) – Adolphe Menjou

At The Circus (1939) – Eve Arden – Tea For Two (1950)

Romance On The High Seas (1948) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – In The Good Old Summertime (1949)

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“Star Of The Month (February 2021)” Featuring Clark Gable in… Dancing Lady (1933)

I’m back again to continue celebrating Clark Gable as my Star Of The Month, and this time around, I’m doing his 1933 film Dancing Lady, also starring Joan Crawford!  Of course, as usual, we’ve got a few theatrical shorts to get things started, and then it’s on with the show!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mess Production (1945)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 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, 7 seconds)

Factory workers Popeye and Bluto have to rescue Olive when she gets knocked for a loop by a swinging grappling hook. Apparently the first cartoon to sport a new design for Olive that would be continued, going forward. This one was fun, with all the gags of the boys trying to rescue her (and fight each other off at the same time). It was better than the previous two, with Jack Mercer again voicing Popeye. Admittedly, the whole gag of Olive sleepwalking after being hit in the head does kind of drag on, but it’s still fun enough to be worth seeing every now and then!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Plane Nuts (1933)

(available as an extra on the Dancing Lady DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 19 minutes, 41 seconds)

Ted Healy and the Stooges perform onstage.  From what I can tell, this short apparently filmed part of their stage act, including Bonnie Bonnell, and was interspersed with clips from some Busby Berkeley choreographed numbers from the film Flying High.  Honestly, I don’t really care for Ted Healy as much here, but the Stooges themselves are at least somewhat fun.  As far as the dance numbers, I’d really rather see the film they came from, as they just seem out of place with everything else going on here.  Interesting but otherwise forgettable short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Roast Beef And Movies (1934)

(available as an extra on the Dancing Lady DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 16 minutes, 16 seconds)

Three men try to peddle their ideas to a movie producer, who offered up a lot of money to someone who could come up with a big idea.  This color short (made in Two-Color Technicolor or something similar, if I am guessing correctly) is a rare short that features Curly Howard (here billed as “Jerry Howard”) apart from his fellow Stooges Moe and Larry.  Given that he is not a prominent member of the trio, and the short is comprised of several sequences (two of which are borrowed from other films), it’s not particularly memorable.  They do attempt to use some Stooges-type of humor, but it really doesn’t work without the actual Stooges team.  At best, this one is only to be seen by fans of Curly, and otherwise should be avoided.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Dancer Janie Barlow (Joan Crawford) is doing a striptease in a burlesque theatre along with her friend Rosette LaRue (Winnie Lightner) and a number of other ladies, when the police raid the place and arrest them all.  Janie is sentenced to jail since she can’t pay her fine, but she is soon bailed out by rich socialite Tod Newton (Franchot Tone).  While he is interested in her, she would prefer to consider the bail money just a loan (which she intends to pay back).  With her newfound freedom, Janie opts not to go back to the burlesque theatre, and instead starts looking for work as a dancer on Broadway.  She tries to get into the show directed by Patch Gallagher (Clark Gable), even following him everywhere to get his attention, but her methods don’t work.  She runs back into Tod again, who offers to help her get her foot in the door with a letter of introduction to Patch’s producer, Jasper Bradley, Sr. (Grant Mitchell).  Jasper is delighted and has his son, Junior (Maynard Holmes) bring Janie to Patch for an audition.  Believing her to be a no-talent, Patch hands her off to his stage manager Steve (Ted Healy) to get rid of her.  However, she manages to impress Steve (and then Patch), and is given a job in the show.  Secretly, Tod offers to help finance the show in hopes of getting Janie to like him.  He proposes to her, but she wants to have her chance at stardom before she’s ready to settle down.  As the rehearsals go on, Patch decides to change things up, and promotes Janie to a starring role.  However, Tod decides to pull his backing, and the two Bradleys close the show (without telling everyone the real reason).  Tod almost immediately whisks Janie away on a trip to Cuba, while Patch decides to finance the show himself, with things going back to the way they were.  But, can he pull the show off?  And will Janie indeed give up on her dream of dancing?  Only watching the movie will tell!

Oh, where to begin with this one?  Joan Crawford, who had successfully transitioned from silent movies to talkies, was coming off a few flops and in need of a big hit.  The film was given to producer David O. Selznick, who was inspired by Warner’s recent success with 42nd Street and put together his own team for this film.  Joan Crawford had some choice in casting, and picked Clark Gable, for what would be the fourth of eight movies pairing the two.  The critics weren’t overly enthusiastic for the movie, but audiences of the time were, making it a big hit for MGM.

This is one of those movies where it’s just as much fun to see cast members who made it big AFTER this movie.  We have Eve Arden making a very quick cameo.  We have Nelson Eddy singing the song “That’s The Rhythm Of The Day.”  We’ve got the Three Stooges (although they were still stuck with Ted Healy at the time, and therefore are mostly in the background for the majority of the movie).  We’ve got a quick appearance from Sterling Holloway.  And, of course, we’ve got Fred Astaire making his film debut, playing himself (and getting introduced by Clark Gable)!

I can’t deny the fact that this is essentially MGM’s version of 42nd Street, from the very similar story to the Busby Berkeley-esque dance routines.  I would definitely say that I prefer Dancing Lady, as I’ve seen it many more times.  It does still have similar issues, with a lead female (Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street and Joan Crawford here) being featured as a big dance star (but whose skills don’t really look that good, especially in hindsight).  If Joan Crawford has any advantage, it’s her two dance routines with Fred Astaire, where her dancing looks a bit more polished.  Of course, those two songs (“Heigh Ho, The Gang’s All Here” and “Let’s Go Bavarian”) are some of the most fun tunes in the film (and are generally stuck in my head for a while afterwards)!  It’s not quite as much fun to watch Fred here, as neither the choreography nor the camerawork is as good as most would expect after watching his later films.  To be fair, I blame most of that on this being his first film, before he became big enough to have more control on how his dancing was filmed.  Not to mention the fact that his stuff was filmed over a two week period (and it shows, with his appearances and disappearances within the movie feeling quite random).

But, I digress.  I still need to talk about Clark Gable (after all, HE is the “Star Of The Month”).  While he may not have been the reason I originally saw this movie, I can’t deny that I have enjoyed Clark Gable’s performance in this film.  In him we have a very street smart director, one who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to tell his producer that.  Not to mention, he knows how to deal with the producer’s “demands” (such as when he is told to give Joan Crawford’s Janie Barlow an audition).  Of course, he’s not a pure tough guy, either, as his own insecurities come to light when he is forced to produce his show with his own money (and, lucky for him, Janie comes around to help pull him out of the funk he slips into).  All in all, this is a wonderful movie that I enjoy coming back to again and again, and therefore, I would definitely recommend it!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

No Man Of Her Own (1932)Clark GableIt Happened One Night (1934)

Franchot Tone – Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)

Fred AstaireTop Hat (1935)

Robert Benchley – Nice Girl? (1941)

Nelson EddyNaughty Marietta (1935)

Professional Sweetheart (1933) – Sterling Holloway – Alice In Wonderland (1933)

Eve Arden – Having Wonderful Time (1938)

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Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… At The Circus (1939)

Personally, I’ve always found that one of the best places to find a group of clowns would be At The Circus, and what better group of clowns to do it than the three Marx brothers, Groucho, Chico and Harpo?

Circus owner Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker) is finally able to pay back his debt to John Carter (James Burke). However, Mr. Carter wants the circus itself, and so gets some of his allies to rob Jeff. Jeff’s buddy Antonio (Chico Marx) figured on trouble and brought in lawyer J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx). Along with Antonio’s buddy Punchy (Harpo Marx), they try to find the money. When they fail, Loophole goes to Newport to find Jeff’s aunt, Mrs. Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont), and, behind her back, arranges for Jeff to bring the circus to her big society party.

Personally, I do think that the Marx brothers’ best movies were behind them at this stage. It doesn’t help that the studio they were under contract to, MGM, didn’t really know how to handle them (or really care), as their main benefactor in coming over to MGM was Irving Thalberg, and he had passed away partway through filming A Day At The Races. Without him, the Marx brothers were being poorly handled, which apparently was a problem the studio had with comedians (case in point, silent film comedian Buster Keaton had been reduced to coming up with gags for different movies, including being assigned to this one, although his ideas didn’t make it into the movie, since the Marx brothers had a different style of comedy). I do think this movie was better than some of the later Marx brothers movies, with the main exception of Go West (but I’ll get into that one for another time). The music here isn’t particularly memorable, outside of Groucho’s rendition of “Lydia The Tattooed Lady” (and the less than politically correct song “Swingali” doesn’t help matters, either). Not to mention some of the various circus stunts seem obviously faked when some of the leads are supposed to be doing them.

As I said, though, this movie does have some bright spots.  Personally, I think most of them belong to Groucho and some of his exchanges with Chico.  Whether it be when he tries to get on the circus train but Chico won’t let him without a badge (even though he sent for him) or when Groucho is trying to interrogate some of the circus performers and Chico bluntly accuses them. I think Chico and Harpo have a few good moments together, mostly with the two of them trying to “re-destruct” the crime or Harpo trying to point out a clue that Chico was obviously missing. Like I said before, I do think this was one of the weaker Marx brothers movies, but I don’t think that it had quite fallen far enough for me to not recommend it. So, if you are in the mood for a decent circus movie, give this one a try!

This movie is available as part of a Marx Brothers double-feature with Room Service on DVD from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 1 hour, 27 minutes

My Rating: 6/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

A Night At The Opera (1935) – Groucho Marx – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

A Night At The Opera (1935) – Harpo Marx – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

A Night At The Opera (1935) – Chico Marx – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

Having Wonderful Time (1938) – Eve Arden – My Dream Is Yours (1949)

A Night At The Opera (1935) – The Marx Brothers – A Night In Casablanca (1946)

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