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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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Phffft (1954)

Today, we’ve got a Jack Lemmon double-feature, and we’re starting off with his 1954 comedy Phffft, also starring Judy Holliday, Jack Carson and Kim Novak. Of course, we have to start things off with a theatrical short, then we’ll get to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Blueprint (1966)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)

The Pink Panther competes with the Little Man on a construction site. It’s nice to see the Little Man again, and it’s that chemistry that makes this one really fun! Admittedly, in some ways it does seem to be essentially the same story as the first Pink Panther cartoon, The Pink Phink, with them both arguing about how the building is supposed to look. Still, the humor works quite well, and I enjoy watching this one with some frequency!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After much thought, television serial writer Nina Tracy (Judy Holliday) decides she wants to divorce her lawyer husband Robert Tracy (Jack Lemmon). However, instead of the shocked reaction she expected, he announces that he had been feeling the same way. So, off she goes to Reno, Nevada, and the divorce is granted. Robert moves in with his playboy (and playwright) friend Charlie Nelson (Jack Carson), while Nina spends some time with her mother, Edith Chapman (Luella Gear). Robert and Nina both still have feelings for each other, but everybody else in their lives are trying to encourage them to move on. Nina tries to go out with one of the stars of her show, Rick Vidal (Donald Curtis), but he only wants to become the main character of the show. Robert tries going out with Charlie’s friend, Janis (Kim Novak), but it doesn’t work out well for him, either. Robert and Nina try to come back together, but they end up fighting again. Will these two be able to get along again as a couple, or will they be able to get over each other?

Columbia Pictures came to playwright George Axelrod, hoping to produce a movie based on his hit play The Seven Year Itch. However, the film rights for that play were unavailable, as it had already been acquired by somebody else (however, they were contractually unable to film it until the play’s run was over). So, George Axelrod instead offered Columbia a very similar play he had written earlier, Phffft. For his screenplay, George Axelrod was rewarded with a nomination for Best Written American Comedy at the Writers Guild. Although he lost (to Roman Holiday), his career was on the upswing, as he would write a few other big screenplays over the next few years (including the aforementioned The Seven Year Itch).

For their part, Columbia Pictures decided to use the movie to pair up Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon again after the success of their previous film together, It Should Happen To You. Now, I’ve not seen that earlier film (yet), but I will say that I did like this one! They make a fun couple, with their various quirks that at first (well, when we meet them in this movie) seem to drive each other apart, but then start to bring them back together again. Of course, we see them attempt other relationships, with the movie using (in what seems to be some of its more dated humor) almost uncomfortable situations, especially for Judy Holliday’s Nina, who keeps getting herself into trouble with men *almost* trying to sleep with her. There are some fun moments, especially with their attempts to change things up, and they do have a fun dance together partway through. I like the chemistry here, even if the rest of the movie doesn’t always quite support it as well as it should. Still, I had fun watching the movie, and I would certainly recommend giving it a shot!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Phffft (1954)

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Entertainment. The transfer for the Blu-ray has been cleaned up of most dirt and debris. The detail looks quite good, for the most part, and I would certainly say that this release is the best way to see this movie.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jack Lemmon – Mister Roberts (1955)

My Dream Is Yours (1949) – Jack Carson

Kim Novak – Pal Joey (1957)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Lucky Partners (1940)

We’re back for the 1940 movie Lucky Partners starring Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers.

As two strangers passing on the street, David Grant (Ronald Colman) randomly wishes Jean Newton (Ginger Rogers) “good luck” as she is out delivering some books. When the customer just randomly gives her a fancy dress, Jean starts thinking, and decides to go in on a sweepstakes ticket with David, especially after she finds him working across the street from her bookshop. He agrees to go in with her, on one condition: that, if they win, they use the money to go on a trip together (or, as he calls it, a honeymoon). Reluctant, she brings in her fiance Freddie Harper (Jack Carson), who, after talking with David, agrees she should do it. Their ticket is picked, but they end up losing. However, Freddie had sold Jean’s half of the ticket, and she decided to give some of the money to David. He asks if she is still willing to go on that trip (even though it wouldn’t be quite as much as if they had actually won the sweepstakes), as long as they go as “brother and sister,” and she agrees. They go to Niagara Falls, where they check into a hotel. When Freddie finds out, he comes traveling after them. When David kisses Jean, he runs out on her. He is caught by the police driving her car, and she and Freddie are also arrested. When they go before the judge (Harry Davenport), it comes out that David’s real name is Paul Knight Somerset, and he is a famous painter.

Ronald Colman had been in a few successful movies and had formed his own production company in the hopes of trying to keep things going. At the time, Lucky Partners was one of a handful of scripts he had to work with. Ginger Rogers wanted to work with Ronald Colman, so she jumped at the chance to do this film, turning down the role of Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday. They were joined by Jack Carson, who was a rising star after having been an extra in a few of Ginger’s earlier films.

My own opinion of this movie is that it is a fun one, with many memorable moments! There’s definitely some fun going on with the hotel changing their rooms for them (ultimately paying off when Jack Carson’s character tries to sneak into the wrong room). And, speaking of Jack Carson, while his character is definitely obnoxious, it’s still fun to see him being an idiot, and having the judge call him out on it in the trial. And, as to that trial, that is definitely one of the best parts of the movie, as the comedy ramps up a little more. Now, it doesn’t quite get as ridiculous as the trial in Ginger’s movie Roxie Hart a few years later, but it’s still just a lot of fun, especially with the lovable Henry Davenport as the judge! While not an absolutely great movie, it’s still a lot of fun, and one I definitely recommend!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 39 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)Ginger RogersKitty Foyle (1940)

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939) – Jack Carson – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)

Now we have the 1939 Ginger Rogers comedy Fifth Avenue Girl, also starring Walter Connolly.

On his way out of a business meeting, Alfred Borden (Walter Connolly) is reminded by his secretary that it is his birthday. At home, he finds his wife and children out. At the advice of his butler Higgins (Franklin Pangborn), he goes out to Central Park, where he meets the unemployed Mary Grey (Ginger Rogers). After talking, they go out to dinner at a nightclub. The next day, Alfred wakes up and finds Mary had spent the night in another room. When he sees how the rest of his family is reacting to her presence, he offers her employment as a pretend mistress, in the hopes that his family will treat him better. His wife, Martha (Verree Teasdale), who has been enjoying the nightlife with a playboy friend, now wants to devote her attention to her husband again, although he keeps going out nights with Mary (even though they don’t really do anything). Alfred’s son, Tim (Tim Holt), has been more interested in playing polo than in working at his father’s office, but with Alfred spending more time fooling around than going to the office, Tim is forced to take up the slack, all the while developing feelings for Mary himself. Alfred’s daughter Katherine (Kathryn Adams) has been a party girl, but she befriends Mary in the hopes that she’ll help her get the attention of their communist chauffeur, Mike (James Ellison).

I’ll admit, this was probably the first time I’ve watched this movie since the early part of the decade (when I was originally given it as a gift). The main thing I remembered was that it started off like the previously reviewed Upper World (also starring Ginger Rogers). We have a very busy business executive with little time for fun, who has an event worth celebrating (this time a birthday instead of a wedding anniversary), but nobody at home to celebrate it with. On an outing, he meets Ginger’s character, and they become friends. Admittedly, from then on, this movie differs, and it was on this last viewing that I noticed the similarity to the movie My Man Godfrey (an observation I couldn’t have made previously as I hadn’t seen My Man Godfrey until late 2018). And that is very much the case, as Ginger’s character works for the father of the family (although this time nobody else knows), as she tries to help the family solve some of their problems.

I’ll say it right off: when it comes down to it, I very much prefer My Man Godfrey to this film. Even though both My Man Godfrey and Fifth Avenue Girl share the same director Gregory La Cava, Godfrey was done much better. Some of the family members aren’t as effective, as I would say that Tim Holt doesn’t work as well as the son, and his relationship with Ginger’s character just never quite meshes well for me. And, to a degree, actress Verree Teasdale as the wife manages to remind me a lot of actress Alice Brady from some of the movies of hers that I have seen (although that’s not a complete knock, as I still she is funny enough for the role). Ginger isn’t quite as good as I’ve seen her in other movies, but she’s still good enough for me. And, despite my comments, I do enjoy this movie. The only real complaint I have, though (and I don’t know whether it is the transfer or just my copy on disc), but the movie could use a good restoration if only to help improve the audio, as it sometimes requires me to crank up the sound (and even then, I can’t always hear it clearly, which hurts when there are no subtitles or closed captions). If that alone were fixed, I would probably watch the movie a bit more often. Again, if you can get past some of these faults, there is some fun to be had with this movie, and it certainly merits my recommendation (although at present I would sooner suggest watching it some way where you could have subtitles/captions).

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 23 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Bachelor Mother (1939)Ginger RogersLucky Partners (1940)

Carefree (1938) – Jack Carson – Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Having Wonderful Time (1938)

Now, for the first regular post of 2020, we’ll dig into the 1938 comedy Having Wonderful Time, starring Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Ginger Rogers plays Teddy Shaw, a typist who has been looking forward to a two week vacation at Camp Kare-Free. She is very much looking forward to the peace and quiet, away from her family, most of whom are trying to push her back together with her ex-boyfriend, Emil Beatty (Jack Carson). As she is taken to the camp, she meets one of the camp’s employees, Chick Kirkland (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), who angers her when he drops her luggage, and the two are both angry with each other. However, she defends him when he gets in trouble with his employer for something else. Soon, they start spending a lot of time together. However, Chick is worried about his job prospects as a lawyer, and doesn’t want to propose marriage. He does suggest having sex, which sends Teddy running. She ends up going with Maxwell “Buzzy” Pangwell (Lee Bowman), and spends the night at his cabin playing backgammon, first with Buzzy, then on her own when Buzzy has had enough and goes to sleep.

Honestly, some of the best fun with this movie isn’t the leads, it’s some of the secondary characters! Lucille Ball as Teddy’s cabin roommate Miriam is a hoot, as she shows elements of the “Lucy” persona that she would become well known for! She spends a good part of the movie chasing after Buzzy, who has affectionately nicknamed the character “Screwball,” which should give you something of a hint as to what her character is like! And then there’s the other famous redhead, Red Skelton (or, as he is billed in the credits here, Richard “Red” Skelton), making his film debut as Itchy, the camp’s social director. Apparently, he had filmed a lot more, but supposedly some of the studio bosses didn’t like his type of comedy and cut a lot of it. He still gets two main moments, where he demonstrates how some people dunk their donuts in their coffee, and later, in a bit involving more physical comedy, shows how some people go up or down a set of stairs at the camp. Those bits and some other moments are still enough to show his brand of comedy, and how he would become a big star in his own right. There are some other familiar faces here, like Eve Arden, but they don’t really get the chance to show off what they could do.

This movie is based on a 1937 play (of the same name) written by Arthur Kober (who also did the screenplay for the movie). Apparently, the play differed in that the characters were more Jewish in nature, but the film censors wanted that aspect toned down and made more relatable for audiences. Personally, I do think this movie does have a charm of its own. I’ll admit, the relationship between the two leads is one of the weaker aspects of the movie. On their own, both actors work well in this movie, but the chemistry just doesn’t quite seem to be there. Still, as I said before, some of the secondary characters are enough fun to make it worthwhile. And, of course, the movie made use of RKO’s connection to Disney at the time (since I think they distributed the movies), as the song “Heigh Ho” from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is sung by party guests later in the film (maybe a little overused, but it is fun). I do enjoy this movie, and I would definitely still recommend giving it a try!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 10 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Vivacious Lady (1938)Ginger RogersCarefree (1938)

Little Caesar (1931) – Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Follow The Fleet (1936) – Lucille Ball – Without Love (1945)

Red Skelton – Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Vivacious Lady (1938) – Jack Carson – Carefree (1938)

Dancing Lady (1933) – Eve Arden – At The Circus (1939)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Vivacious Lady (1938)

And now, for my last review of 2019, we have the classic 1938 comedy Vivacious Lady starring Ginger Rogers and James Stewart!

Professor of botany Peter Morgan (James Stewart) comes to New York City in search of his cousin Keith Morgan (James Ellison), in an attempt to bring him back to the university at Old Sharon. He finds him at a nightclub waiting for a girl he likes, but before Peter can get him out of there, he meets and is instantly smitten with Francey (Ginger Rogers), the lady Keith was waiting for. After one date, Peter and Francey are married, and she comes back with him to Old Sharon. However, Peter hasn’t told his parents yet, nor his fiancee, which leaves him apprehensive of how everybody will react. Before he can tell his father (Charles Coburn), he assumes her to be there with Keith, and disapproves. Peter hopes to tell them at the university’s prom, but things go wrong when his now former-but-doesn’t-know-it-yet fiancee Helen (Frances Mercer) starts a fight with Francey, which Peter and his father come upon at a poor time. When he gets frustrated from his failed attempts at being alone with Francey, Peter manages to tell his father, who disapproves and doesn’t want Peter to tell his mother. However, his mother (Beulah Bondi) soon finds out accidentally, and she approves. However, Mr. Morgan comes to tell Francey that either she will divorce Peter, or he will have to demand Peter’s resignation, which angers Mrs. Morgan and results in her leaving her husband. Francey doesn’t want to cause trouble for Peter, so she decides to leave.

This wonderful comedy was directed by George Stevens, who was working with Ginger again after previously directing her in the Astaire/Rogers film Swing Time. His comedy pedigree came from working with comedy team Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy on some of their classic short comedies. James Stewart was chosen for this movie by Ginger herself, since they had dated previously, and she had gained enough starpower to make that choice. And of course, this was one of several times that actress Beulah Bondi would portray James Stewart’s mother, including in the previously reviewed Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

Overall, this is a wonderful comedy, with at least two particularly wonderful comic bits. The first one would be when Ginger’s Francey and Frances Mercer’s Helen butt heads at the prom. They start out calmly discussing things before they start slapping each other, then kicking, then brawling (and Jimmy bringing his father out to meet Francey only to see them still going at each other just makes it that much funnier)! Then of course, there would be the moment where Francey and James Ellison’s Keith teach Mrs. Morgan the Big Apple dance. It’s so much fun to watch all three of them really getting into it, and then in comes Mr. Morgan, who is incensed at seeing what was happening! While these are two of the more memorable moments for me, the whole movie is a lot of fun, and one I would very much recommend for a good laugh!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Seeing as how this is my last review for 2019, I want to wish you all a happy New Year (and of course, I hope you’ll tune in again tomorrow to see my 2019: Year In Review + Top 10 Movies Watched)!

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Swing Time (1936)Ginger RogersHaving Wonderful Time (1938)

After The Thin Man (1936) – James Stewart – You Can’t Take It With You (1938)

A Damsel In Distress (1937) – Jack Carson – Having Wonderful Time (1938)

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!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2019): 1939 on… Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

Now for a patriotic turn, we have the classic 1939 drama Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart!

When U.S. Senator Foley dies, Governor Hopper (Guy Kibbee) has to appoint a new one. Political boss Jim Taylor (Edward Arnold) has a man in mind that he orders the governor to appoint, but some citizen committees have somebody else. Governor Hopper’s own children have a recommendation of their own: their leader of the Boy Rangers, Jefferson Smith (James Stewart). Taylor and Senator Joe Paine (Claude Rains) decide to let the choice of Jeff Smith be. When Jeff gets to Washington, he explores the monuments, and enjoys the feeling of history. However, some of the reporters make fun of him, and make him realize his appointment is honorary, and that he is expected to be nothing more than a “yes man,” going along with what Senator Paine tells him to do. With the help of his secretary Clarissa Saunders (Jean Arthur), he tries to introduce a bill for the creation of a boys’ camp. When it is discovered he wants to use land that Taylor owns and is planning to sell for use for a dam in another bill, Taylor visits Washington to straighten him out, or else. Jeff tries to speak up about the graft, but HE is instead accused of graft and tries to run away. Saunders stops him, and helps him to go into a filibuster to delay his expulsion from the Senate.

For me, this is one of those wonderful movies that was really well done by all those involved. I have great admiration for the set crew, who had to recreate the Senate chamber in Hollywood (since they couldn’t use the real location for filming). James Stewart works so well in his role as Jefferson Smith, it’s easy to see why he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Yes, as the audience, we learn all about the corruption in power early on, but it’s hard not to get swept up by Jeff’s earnestness and admiration for the Capitol and all the landmarks. And of course, director Frank Capra does a great job with Jeff’s big filibuster. While it lasts for quite a while, it doesn’t get stale or boring, especially interspersed with all the action as Edward Arnold’s James Taylor goes to work trying to tear him down in the state while Jean Arthur’s Saunders tries so hard to reach the people! I do enjoy this movie very much, and it is one I would highly recommend (especially in high definition, allowing you to see so many more details in the sets)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Film Length: 2 hours, 10 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) – Jean Arthur

You Can’t Take It With You (1938) – James Stewart – The Shop Around The Corner (1940)

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) – Claude Rains – The Sea Hawk (1940)

You Can’t Take It With You (1938) – Edward Arnold – Nothing But The Truth (1941)

The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) – Eugene Pallette – The Mark Of Zorro (1940)

Fifth Avenue Girl (1939) – Jack Carson – Lucky Partners (1940)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Stand-In (1937)

Now we have another new disc release for 2019, the 1937 comedy Stand-In, starring Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell and Humphrey Bogart.

There’s trouble at the banking offices of Pettypacker & Sons. They have an ownership in Colossal Studios, but are considering selling it to Ivor Nassau (C. Henry Gordon) for less than its worth. Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard), one of their big number crunchers, believes they should NOT sell, and he is sent to Hollywood to take charge of the studio and figure things out. Once there, he meets former child actress Lester Plum (Joan Blondell) and Douglas Quintain (Humphrey Bogart), the producer of the movie being made. While Dodd tries to figure out how to cut costs, he has to deal with Nassau and a few of the people that stand to benefit from the sale of the studio.

I’ll admit, this was a movie I had never heard of previously, and it was mainly Bogie’s presence that appealed to me. This movie did turn out to be a wonderful surprise! I enjoyed all the performances, including Bogie in what was apparently his first sympathetic role (all the while carrying around a Scottish-terrier, to boot). To say that actor Jack Carson’s character, Tom Potts, is obnoxious seems like an understatement (but it works for the role). And of course, watching Leslie Howard (who is probably best known as Ashley Wilkes, the guy that Vivien Leigh’s Scarlet O’Hara was chasing after for most of Gone With The Wind) as he tries to come to grips with Hollywood and all its phonies is hilarious, especially considering he has no idea who many of the stars are! I know I enjoyed watching him tell off a mother who was trying to get her little girl to audition for him, since he was the head of the studio! The only letdown on this movie was the ending, which was maybe a little too abrupt, in terms of everything coming together. That, and I wish they had done more with the quirky residents of the boarding house that Dodd stayed at. But outside of that, I found myself enjoying the movie quite a bit, and I would heartily recommend it!

This movie has been made available on Blu-ray and DVD by ClassicFlix. According to a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie, this was originally being planned as their first release when they started the label, but they canceled those plans when they found that the available film elements were not usable, especially for the level of quality they were planning. However, they did find some better elements at the British Film Institute that, while not perfect, were good enough to work with. The resulting transfer looks pretty good. There are some scratches here and there, but this is likely to be the best the movie looks for the foreseeable future.

Update (11/5/2021): Due to poor sales on the release, ClassicFlix has since discontinued their Blu-ray release (so good luck finding any copies for the time being at a decent price). However, their DVD is still available, which is what I have now switched the link to.

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Petrified Forest (1936) – Leslie Howard

Footlight Parade (1933) – Joan Blondell – The Opposite Sex (1956)

The Petrified Forest (1936)Humphrey BogartAngels With Dirty Faces (1938)

My Man Godfrey (1936) – Alan Mowbray – Merrily We Live (1938)

Jack Carson – A Damsel In Distress (1937)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Now we have one of those all-star type of musicals made during the second World War to help benefit the troops, the 1943 movie Thank Your Lucky Stars. Since the billing for the movie was alphabetical order due to how big some of the stars were at the time (and not on how involved they were in this movie’s plot), I’ll try to list them according to their parts in the movie.  We have Eddie Cantor, Eddie Cantor (yes, I listed him twice on purpose), Dennis Morgan, Joan Leslie, Edward Everett Horton and S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall.

In this movie, we have Eddie Cantor playing a dual role as himself and Joe Simpson, a wannabe dramatic actor who can’t find work due to his resemblance to Eddie Cantor.  Farnsworth (Edward Everett Horton) and Dr. Schlenna (S. Z. Sakall) are putting on a wartime benefit with celebrity performers, and they want Dinah Shore for the show.  There’s just one problem: she’s under contract to Eddie Cantor, and they can’t get her without him.  So they reluctantly agree and almost immediately regret it, as he takes over and does things his way.  Elsewhere, we have wannabe singer Tommy Randolph (Dennis Morgan) and the aspiring songwriter Pat Dixon (Joan Leslie), who conspire to get Tommy into the show as a performer.   They convince their friend Joe Simpson to impersonate Eddie Cantor while they get the real Eddie out of the way for a while.

As you can see from my description, the plot isn’t this movie’s strength (and, quite frankly, I doubt it was intended to be).  This movie was supposed to be a morale booster for audiences at home.  And I think it still works in that fashion, at least for me!  I would probably describe the movie as being part musical (although, as usual for the times, the music doesn’t really serve the plot) and part revue, since the various stars are just doing various songs and dances (although it’s more like a talent show, since, outside of the movie’s leads, the stars are dramatic actors and actresses doing something out of their comfort zone). Speaking of the stars…

There’s such a wide assortment of celebrities in this movie that it could easily become a big discussion on just that, but I’ll try to keep it short by mentioning only a few moments that I enjoy. In spite of his prominent billing, Humphrey Bogart is only onscreen for a little more than a minute, but such a fun moment! While this movie works best when the viewers actually have an idea of what the various screen personas were at that time, a few are self-explanatory, like Bogie’s run-in with Dr. Schlenna. Seriously, the idea that a tough guy like Bogie looks weak against that teddy bear of a man is hilarious! Then there is Spike Jones And His City Slickers with their rendition of “Hotcha Cornia.” Seriously, why can’t orchestras play that way anymore, it’s so fun to watch (I highly recommend looking it up on YouTube at least)! Most of the stars were trying to sing, but the only memorable dancing is provided by Alexis Smith and her two male partners during the song “Good Night, Good Neighbor,” in which she does quite a few impressive lifts. And of course, that’s only just a few, with stars such as Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, John Garfield and many others getting in on the fun (also worth mentioning is one of Eddie Cantor’s regulars from his radio show, Bert Gordon, also known as “the Mad Russian,” whose only line is his well-known catchphrase “How do you do?”)! Again, this movie was intended to be a morale booster, but it works, and I would indeed recommend it as such!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 2 hours, 7 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Maltese Falcon (1941)Humphrey BogartTo Have And Have Not (1944)

Now, Voyager (1942) – Bette Davis – Another Man’s Poison (1952)

Santa Fe Trail (1940) – Olivia de Havilland

Santa Fe Trail (1940) – Errol Flynn

The Sea Wolf (1941) – John Garfield

The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Joan Leslie

The Sea Wolf (1941) – Ida Lupino – On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Kitty Foyle (1940) – Dennis Morgan – Christmas In Connecticut (1945)

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Ann Sheridan – The Opposite Sex (1956)

Dinah Shore – Make Mine Music (1946)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – George Tobias – The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

Lucky Partners (1940) – Jack Carson – Romance On The High Seas (1948)

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) – Edward Everett Horton – Down To Earth (1947)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – Christmas In Connecticut (1945)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Carefree (1938)

Here we are again, for the eighth Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, the 1938 musical/ screwball comedy Carefree.

As to the plot, we find Stephen Arden (Ralph Bellamy) coming to his psychiatrist friend Dr. Tony Flagg (Fred Astaire) because his fiancée Amanda Cooper (Ginger Rogers) keeps calling off their engagement, even though she says she does want to marry him.  Stephen convinces Amanda to see Dr. Flagg, and she ends up falling for him (particularly after she dreams of him), although she doesn’t quite want to tell him right away.  Now, after several experiments, including using an anesthetic on one occasion and hypnosis on another to convince her to marry Stephen, Dr. Flagg realizes that he loves Amanda, too.

Now that we are past the plot, we’ll get into what I think of the movie.  As an Astaire-Rogers movie, a lot of the fun is watching them dance together.  For me, this movie is even better since the music is provided by composer Irving Berlin, which includes the songs “Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing,” “I Used To Be Colorblind,” “The Yam” and “Change Partners.”

Now, “Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing” is Fred’s big solo dance for the movie.  Done at a golf range, he starts in mainly to impress Ginger Rogers’ character, by playing the harmonica.  After that, he proves that he can dance and play golf at the same time!

“I Used To Be Colorblind” is used for a dream sequence, which partners Fred and Ginger.  The sad part about this is that the original plan was to film this sequence in color, but it was so expensive to film anything in color at this time, that the higher-ups decided against it.  I don’t care, black and white or in color, this is still a fun dance.  And most of the dance itself is done in slow motion, which also allows particular emphasis for the kiss that ends the routine.  I’ve heard it said that this was their first onscreen romantic kiss (as opposed to happening offscreen, or whatever).

“The Yam” was an attempt at a new dance craze.  Much to my dismay, it failed.  I don’t really know why, because for me, it has always looked like SO MUCH FUN.  Sung by Ginger, with Fred joining her for the dance.

“Change Partners” is another romantic duet.  This time, Fred is “controlling” Ginger through hypnosis, started somehow by him singing it to her inside on the dance floor with everybody else.  I don’t really know how it is supposed to work, and I don’t really care, as it is a wonderful dance routine!

As I said before when I discussed the movie I Married A Witch, THIS is my favorite screwball comedy.  I’ll admit, maybe not everything in this movie makes sense.  I mean, I don’t understand how Fred’s character is supposed to be a successful psychiatrist, considering how much he seems to be keep mishandling everything with Ginger’s character.  My own opinion is that this is Ginger’s movie, as she proves herself very adept at screwball comedy, whether it be all the things she does while under the influence of the anesthetic, or for that matter, when she is still in a trance from being hypnotised.

This is one of the movies I have reviewed that I have a very high opinion of, and one I would definitely recommend if you get the chance to see it!  The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive 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!