What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Good News (1947)

Today, we’ve got some Good News!  Yep, we’re looking into that classic 1947 musical starring June Allyson and Peter Lawford! As usual, we’ve got a theatrical short to start us off!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Drag-A-Long Droopy (1954)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 34 seconds)

Sheepherder Droopy drives his sheep into cattle territory, and the Wolf (who owns a cattle ranch) tries to stop him. Yes, this one veers into the typically Tex Avery ridiculousness, but that’s the fun! The gags come fast and furious (including another one poking fun at television), and you can’t help but cheer for Droopy and those sheep (just don’t get in their way 😉 ). To quote Droopy himself, “Exciting. Isn’t it?”

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1927, and there’s romantic trouble at Tait College! Babe Doolittle (Joan McCracken) wants to break up with her current boyfriend, football player Beef (Loren Tindall), and start going out with his teammate, Bobby Turner (Ray McDonald). However, the much bigger and stronger (and very jealous) Beef has made it known that he will go after anybody else that tries to go out with Babe (which Bobby finds to be a strong deterrent to the idea). Meanwhile, the football team’s captain, Tommy Marlowe (Peter Lawford), is a bit of a ladies’ man. Of course, being the college hero, he doesn’t have to do much chasing, as the gals usually come to him. However, college newcomer Pat McClellan (Patricia Marshall) has out and out rejected him. What he doesn’t know is that, despite the air of sophistication that she puts on, she is really a society climber and gold digger. But her rejection makes her appealing enough for HIM to chase after HER, and, since she is prone to peppering her speech with French, he goes to the library to try learning some. There, he meets the assistant librarian, Connie Lane (June Allyson), who is working there to help pay her way through college. With her help, he learns some French quickly, but he still doesn’t get Pat’s attention. Fearing he will become depressed (and do terribly in the game), Babe tries to pass him off as coming from a wealthy family in front of Pat. However, while she was trying to do that, Tommy decides to ask Connie out to the prom, much to her delight. Connie’s happiness is short-lived, as Pat goes after Tommy in short order, and, without thinking, he agrees to go to the prom with her instead. Over the next few weeks, Tommy and Pat see a lot of each other, and he ignores his studies (somewhat unusual for him). They announce to their friends that they will be getting engaged after the big game, but his grades (particularly in French) threaten to have him sidelined for it. His coaches and the dean convince the French professor, Burton Kennyon (Clinton Sundberg), to give him a second chance, and have Connie tutor him. With his feelings for Connie reawakened, Tommy tries to sabotage things so that he can’t be engaged to Pat. But will he be able to break his engagement, or will he be stuck in a relationship he no longer wants?

Good News was based on a 1927 play (of the same name) written by Lawrence Schwab, Lew Brown, Frank Mandel, B. G. DeSylva and Ray Henderson. In the 1940s, producer Arthur Freed decided to take up the idea (since MGM already had the filming rights after doing a movie in 1930, excerpts of which can be seen as an extra on the Blu-ray for the 1947 film), intending it as a potential vehicle for Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland (plans that were abandoned when Mickey Rooney’s box office appeal was fading and Judy Garland got too old to play a college student). Still, Arthur Freed wanted to do the movie, and brought in some fresh talent, promoting dance choreographer Charles Walters to director, and bringing in Betty Comden and Adolph Green (for their first screen credit) to write the screenplay. For the stars, June Allyson and Peter Lawford were picked, and, with Good News being a big hit, it helped establish their careers further, in what was the second of at least four movies that they made together.

I myself am coming off of seeing this movie for the first time. Previously, I had only seen clips of it in the That’s Entertainment series, but, like many of the movies included in that series, it was on a list of movies I wanted to see. And it did not disappoint! Sure, the plot itself is nothing to write home about, but, it’s a musical, so plot was never going to be the main focus. I found the music to be enjoyable, and I would agree with many that the standouts are “Pass That Peace Pipe” (a new song written specifically for this movie) and the “Varsity Drag.” Both of them stood out very strongly, and easily make the movie worth seeing just for them! The cast certainly works well for me. I’ll admit, Peter Lawford’s dancing isn’t the best (he tries, and does decently, but his timing just seems a bit off, especially when compared to the rest of the chorus). A perfect movie, this isn’t, but it’s still fun, both for its music and its comedy. Easily recommended for a good time!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray makes use of a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives, and boy, does it show! The colors practically pop off the screen, and the detail is fantastic. As such, it’s another in a looooong line of great transfers from Warner Archive, continuing to prove that their releases are the best ways to see many of the wonderful Warner-owned classics!

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Girl Crazy (1943) – June Allyson – The Glenn Miller Story (1954)

Peter Lawford – Easter Parade (1948)

Tommy Rall – Kiss Me Kate (1953)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Now we have one of the movies that featured the “Rat Pack,” the classic Ocean’s 11, starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Angie Dickinson.

Spyros Acebos (Akim Tamiroff) wants to rob the Las Vegas casinos, but, due to his criminal record, he can’t get in without raising suspicion. So he hires Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) to do the job. Danny recruits some of his buddies from the 82nd Airborne unit of paratroopers to pull it off. After getting the men together, they make plans to pull the job at midnight on New Year’s Eve. By New Year’s Eve, they are ready and in position to pull off the heist. Everything goes as planned, but after the job is done, one of the men suffers a fatal heart attack. Then a few other problems start to crop up.

I will admit, this is one of those “Is it or is it not a holiday movie” types. Particularly in starting off the movie, we do get a sense that the Christmas season is upon them, and it maintains a presence, at least in the background, for a good deal of the movie. Then, of course, the heist itself takes place on New Year’s Eve. Personally, I have a hard time wanting to classify this movie as a Christmas film, just due to the main concept. However, I do feel like it at least fits in as a New Year’s movie, since they do more solidly celebrate it, not to mention some of the unforeseen events that occur within the new year.

I will say, this is a movie that I have come to enjoy.  My first viewing didn’t leave me feeling that impressed, but after some time between, I enjoyed it more the second time around.  For me, the cast makes it work, with so many familiar faces.  Admittedly, the “not quite a musical but wants to go in that direction” aspect of the movie still bothers me (especially since Frank doesn’t even do any singing), but for a movie set in Las Vegas, I can live with it. But like I say, I like the cast here, which makes it more fun (just don’t expect me to try the remake or the franchise it started). So, yes, I do recommend this movie!

This movie is available individually on Blu-ray and DVD and on Blu-ray as part of the five-film Frank Sinatra Collection from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 2 hours, 8 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Never So Few (1959)Frank SinatraThe Road To Hong Kong (1962)

Some Came Running (1958) – Dean Martin – The Road To Hong Kong (1962)

Never So Few (1959) – Peter Lawford

Susan Slept Here (1954) – Red Skelton

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Never So Few (1959)

We’re off to the jungles of Burma for the 1959 war movie Never So Few, starring Frank Sinatra and Gina Lollobrigida.

Captain Tom Reynolds (Frank Sinatra) leads a force of American and Kachin fighters in Burma during the second World War. After losing his aid in a skirmish with the Japanese, Tom sends a message to headquarters to request a meeting with his commander. In Calcutta, he demands medicine and a doctor to help deal with his wounded soldiers. Tom and British Captain Danny De Mortimer (Richard Johnson) are forced to take two weeks leave. They are invited to stay with a wealthy merchant named Nikko Regas (Paul Henreid). Tom immediately falls for Nikko’s mistress, Carla Vesari (Gina Lollobrigida), but she rejects him at first. Tom and Danny return to their troops in time for Christmas, but during the holiday celebrations, they are attacked by the Japanese. They are able to repel the attack, but Tom is wounded and sent to the air base hospital. When he recovers, he is given orders to attack an airfield, with support from a supply convoy. When the convoy doesn’t come, they go on ahead to the airfield. Their attack is successful, but they lose quite a few men in the process. On the return trip, they run across what remains of the supply convoy, which was apparently attacked by a group of rogue Chinese, and so they cross the border of China to go after them, which has political consequences.

Originally, this movie was apparently intended to feature three members of the “Rat Pack:” Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford and Sammy Davis, Jr. However, an argument between Frank and Sammy over some of Sammy’s recent comments resulted in him being fired. So then-newcomer Steve McQueen (who at that time was mainly known for the western TV series Wanted: Dead Or Alive) was cast in his place. Between the director, John Sturges, and Frank’s urging, Steve McQueen was given a relatively prominent role, which gave him his big chance in the movies. Several years later, McQueen would work with the director again in the classic The Great Escape.

Honestly, my main problem with this movie is the romance between Frank’s Captain Reynolds and Gina’s Carla Vesari. It just feels off, and because of that, it takes up a little too much of the movie’s two hours and five minutes runtime. If there could have been less of that, and a little more time spent with the men under Captain Reynolds’ command, including a young Dean Jones (before he started doing live action movies for Disney) and Charles Bronson, the movie would have been much better. I think the war scenes work quite well (although anybody expecting lots of blood and gore would come away disappointed, as I think the censors still had enough power at the time to minimize that). So, while it has its problems, I do like this movie and would recommend giving it a shot!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Never So Few (1959)

Previously available on DVD from Warner Home Video, Never So Few has been given a Blu-ray upgrade by Warner Archive Collection. As the Blu-ray is my first time seeing the movie, I can’t really speak to any earlier releases/transfers, but I think that Warner Archive has given this the transfer it deserves (or better, depending on your opinion of the movie). I have no complaints on the picture quality, which allows the action and the scenery to shine through!

Film Length: 2 hours, 5 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Some Came Running (1958)Frank SinatraOcean’s 11 (1960)

Easter Parade (1948) – Peter Lawford – Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Deep In My Heart (1954) – Paul Henreid

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Easter Parade (1948)

Happy Easter! Happy Easter! Happy Easter to you! We’re here now for the classic 1948 MGM musical Easter Parade, starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire!

When his vaudevillian partner, Nadine (Ann Miller) decides to break up the act, Don Hewes (Fred Astaire) starts searching for another partner to prove he can get along without Nadine. He finds Hannah Brown (Judy Garland), who is working at the bar Don stops to drink at. At first, Don tried to make her over like Nadine (without realizing it), but success doesn’t come their way. Once Nadine accuses him of doing so, he decides to let Hannah be herself, and success comes their way. Of course, the whole time, Hannah has been in love with Don, while he still pines for Nadine, which creates trouble between Don and Hannah, especially after he declares his love for Hannah.

Personally, I would say most of the fun here comes from the movie’s stars and its score by composer Irving Berlin! Irving Berlin’s score contains a mixture of new songs written specifically for the movie, some he wrote back in the 1910s (when this movie is supposed to take place) and a few written in between. This ended up being the sixth and final film where Fred Astaire would work with Irving Berlin, and it produced some of their best moments! I know I always enjoy watching Fred do the song “Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” I can’t help but whistle along with Fred on “Happy Easter,” I enjoy the romantic “It Only Happens When I Dance With You,” and I love watching Fred sing and dance and play drums to “Drum Crazy!” And of course, I love listening to Judy sing, especially “I Want To Go Back To Michigan.” Honestly, I could easily list any of the songs and dances, as they all are quite catchy, and just further my enjoyment of this movie!

This is a wonderful movie, one I enjoy watching around Easter. I know the connection to the holiday is barely there (depending on your beliefs), with some references to the Easter Rabbit, and the old tradition of wearing special outfits for the day. But I like to think that the variety in color shown onscreen heralds the arrival of spring. Of course, in some respects, it’s just an excuse to watch a wonderful movie once a year, particularly at a time when it readily cheers you up! I will admit, the music doesn’t really serve the plot or characters, but I don’t think it needs to with this movie! So, yes, do yourself a favor and give this one a try!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video.

“I’m just a fella. A fella with an umbrella…”

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #1 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Pirate (1948) – Judy Garland – In The Good Old Summertime (1949)

Blue Skies (1946)Fred AstaireThe Band Wagon (1953)

Good News (1947) – Peter Lawford – Never So Few (1959)

Ann Miller – On The Town (1949)

Jules Munshin – Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949)

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!