Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Father Of The Bride (1950)

For the Third Spencer Tracy And Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, hosted by Crystal of In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Michaela of Love Letters To Old Hollywood, I have Spencer Tracy’s 1950 solo outing Father Of The Bride, also starring Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor!  But first, we have a Popeye short, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection.  Once we’re past that, let’s head on down to the stage, where I’ll hand things over to the narrator to tell the story!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Anvil Chorus Girl (1944)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)

Popeye and Bluto come across Olive, who is working as a blacksmith and try to help her out. A bunch of hilarious gags as Popeye and Bluto try to show off their abilities as a blacksmith. A bit of fun here, especially since this seems to be voice actor Jackson Beck’s first turn as Bluto. Also apparently a remake of an earlier Fleischer era short, but it’s certainly enjoyable enough on its own merit!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): We open on a house that has clearly just held a big party. As we survey the mess of confetti, streamers and trash, we come upon a worn out Stanley Banks (Spencer Tracy). As he notices us, he starts to talk about weddings, thinking in particular of the one he just went through, and how it started just a few months before…

(Host): Flashback!

(Narrator): Indeed! Activate the time machine!

(Use your imaginations for time travel effects here. All I can do is say we’ve gone back three months.)

(Narrator): Three months earlier, Stanley came home from work just like any other day. During dinner, his daughter, Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), casually mentions that she has become engaged to Buckley Dunstan. Although uneasy about it at first, Stanley decides to support her in the idea. His wife, Ellie (Joan Bennett), almost immediately starts throwing herself into wedding preparations, but he is still unsure, trying to not only remember who Buckley is amongst her beaus, but also worrying about what kind of a life he could give her. He passes on these worries to Ellie, and, once he remembers who Buckley (Don Taylor) is, they make arrangements to meet his parents, Herbert (Moroni Olsen) and Doris (Billie Burke) Dunstan. Not long after the meeting of the parents, Stanley and Ellie throw a party to announce the engagement, although Stanley doesn’t get to announce it since he is stuck in the kitchen the whole time making drinks for everyone. As much as he had hoped for it to be a small wedding, the costs start getting larger, forcing him to attempt to shrink the guest list, with little success. Other than the spiraling costs, things run smoothly until Kay and Buckley have a fight over the honeymoon plans and Kay decides to call off the wedding. However, the two come to their senses and reconcile. Of course, they still have the wedding rehearsal to get through, and that doesn’t go too well (at least, not according to Stanley). The night before the wedding, Stanley’s fears of ruining the wedding cause him to have a nightmare –

(Eerie music quickly plays on organ backstage)

(Narrator): Yes, indeed. His jitters result in him going after a late snack, where he also finds Kay with her own worries. He is able to talk her through calmly (in spite of his own anxieties), and they get through the night. The next day comes, and the place is a madhouse, as everybody tries to get ready for the wedding itself, while getting things around at the house for the reception later.

(Organ starts playing “Here Comes The Bride)

(Narrator): And there we have it, with the wedding going off without a hitch, and the reception also going well. That should do for the story. Now, let’s get back to our host. By the way, nice organ playing back there.

(Host): What do you mean? I’ve been out here the whole time!

(Organ begins playing VERY eerie music backstage)

(Wakes up in bed in a cold sweat)

(Host): Ok, that was pretty freaky. (Sorry, had to get some Halloween fun in there! 😉 ) Getting serious again, I know I enjoy this movie a lot, mostly because of Spencer Tracy. We get the whole tale more or less told from his character’s point of view, and it makes it easy to sympathize with his feelings on the matter. More than anything, the film is about the relationship between his character and his daughter (as played by Elizabeth Taylor). And that relationship feels real, from the way she calls him “Pops” and comes to him when she has trouble, or the way he tries to help her out (even if he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth). I’ve heard that Spencer Tracy had wanted Katharine Hepburn to play his wife in this movie, but others thought they were too romantic a team to play a domestic couple with children. Whatever the reason, I’m glad she wasn’t cast in this instance, as I feel that would have altered the movie too much. As we got it, the story is being told from Spencer Tracy’s perspective, and, as such, it focuses on him. If Katharine Hepburn was in it, I feel like it would have been harder to tell the story from his perspective, and it would have given us a different film entirely.

Whatever the case may be, it’s still a well-told story. Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor are not the only ones who give good performances here, as we get something good from everybody. Joan Bennett does great as the wife, who eagerly looks forward to planning the wedding (even after Spencer’s character unloads his worries on her). Billie Burke has a fun (although way too short) appearance as Buckley’s mother, and up-and-coming Russ Tamblyn (here billed as “Rusty”) has a background role as one of Kay’s brothers. For me, this is a fun film, that certainly earned its sequel, giving us more time with these wonderful characters. Admittedly, I’ve only seen the sequel once, since it is public domain and hasn’t been given a good release by Warner (who has the film elements), but I remember liking it well enough. I’ve never seen the remake (or its sequel) with Steve Martin, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me to try that, when I’ve got the opportunity to see the far-superior (in my mind) actor and comedian Spencer Tracy. I certainly want to thank Crystal and Michaela for hosting this wonderful blogathon, as it was a fun reminder to revisit an old favorite that, for me, slipped through the cracks. This is a wonderful movie, and one I have no trouble whatsoever recommending!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Without Love (1945) – Spencer Tracy – Pat And Mike (1952)

Wedding Present (1936) – Joan Bennett – We’re No Angels (1955)

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Billie Burke

A Christmas Carol (1938) – Leo G. Carroll – We’re No Angels (1955)

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 (2020) with… Kentucky Kernels (1934)

Today’s movie is the 1934 RKO comedy Kentucky Kernels, featuring the comedy team of (Bert) Wheeler and (Robert) Woolsey! But, of course, we have three shorts to precede it, all of which are included as extras on the Blu-ray release of Kentucky Kernels from Warner Archive Collection!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Buddy’s Circus (1934)

(Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)

Buddy runs a circus as a baby gets into the mix. Can’t say as I have any prior experience with this “Buddy” character, since I mainly know the Looney Tunes era that features the likes of Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, etc. It’s an interesting cartoon, certainly done in a similar style to most cartoons of this era. It has its flaws, mostly revolving around some racial stereotypes of the time that make a few brief appearances here. Like I said, it’s interesting, but hardly worth many viewings.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Dance Contest (1934)

(Length: 6 minutes, 54 seconds)

Popeye competes with Bluto for Olive’s affections in a dance contest. First chance I’ve had to see one of the earlier Fleischer cartoons with Popeye in quite some time, and I’ve gotta say this one was fun! Sure, it was Popeye vs. Bluto, but it feels so fresh compared to some of the later cartoons! Of course, it’s fun seeing what Popeye did for dancing here (maybe not so much with Bluto, who was a little violent in his dancing with Olive, but then again, we’re cheering for Popeye, not him)! All in all, a fun cartoon to get the chance to see!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Sock-A-Bye, Baby (1934)

(Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)

Popeye is babysitting, but the sounds of the city won’t let the baby sleep. A lot of different noise-related gags here, which are different than I’m used to with Popeye. Which is NOT a bad thing! This cartoon was fun! Admittedly, Popeye seems to have the same reaction, whatever the noise: to destroy/ beat up whatever is making the noise (but it’s fun seeing some things try to keep going until he finishes them off)! I certainly enjoyed this one!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Host): Magician Elmer Dugan (Robert Woolsey), also known as “The Great Elmer,” is down on his luck. He is living with his buddy Willie Doyle (Bert Wheeler) in a shanty under the bridge. One night, their fishing nets catch the suicidal Jerry Bronson (Paul Page). They pull him out of the nets, and try to convince him his life is worth living by suggesting he adopt a child. They volunteer to find him one at the orphan’s home, run by Mrs. Baxter (Margaret Dumont).

(Sounds of glass breaking offstage)

(Host): Oh, no. You didn’t.

(Narrator): Yes, I did. He he he.

(Host): Oh, fun. You know what our rather spiteful narrator did, folks? He brought in Spanky Milford (as played by that Little Rascal George “Spanky” McFarland, who was loaned out to RKO by the Hal Roach studio for this film). He’s a nice kid, but he’s got one big problem: he has a fondness for breaking glass!

(Host): Anyways, back to the story. Elmer and Willie are able to adopt Spanky for Jerry, but, when they bring Spanky over, Jerry is leaving for his honeymoon! He promises to return for the boy, and he gives them a check (although Spanky tears it up). Fast forward a few weeks, and now their shanty has greater airflow (since Spanky has been breaking all the windows).

(Sound of shattering glass)

(Host): (Winces). Yes, like that one. (muttering under breath: darn that narrator for bringing him in, anyways.) Anyways, they are visited by a pair of lawyers, who say that Spanky has inherited an estate in Banesville, Kentucky. Spanky refuses to go without his “Uncle Elmer” and “Uncle Willie.” The lawyers, who are reluctant to accompany Spanky there because of a big feud in the area between the Milford family and the Wakefield family, are relieved at the prospect, and offer to pay the expenses for Elmer and Willie to take him (but they don’t mention the feud). When Elmer and Willie see the wad of money the lawyers are offering, they quickly accept. On the train ride there, they meet Gloria Wakefield (Mary Carlisle), for whom Willie falls for immediately. When they arrive at the station, her father, Colonel Wakefield (Noah Beery), is waiting for her. Unaware of the feud, Elmer and Willie invite them over for dinner (an invitation they keep open even after learning about the feud). At first, the party seems to be going well, with everybody getting along, including Colonel Wakefield and Spanky’s aunt Hannah Milford (Lucille LaVerne), who seem to have feelings for each other. Then, Spanky opens a bottle of champagne, resulting in everyone thinking a gun went off, and the feud is back on! (Ah-ha, you thought Spanky was going to open a bottle here, too, didn’t you? Well, I locked that stuff up, and kept the key away from the narrator!)

(Narrator): Drat! I wondered where the key was!

(Host): He, he, he. You see, I can do it to you, too. Anyways, moving on. The next day, Elmer and Willie go over to the Wakefield home to smooth things over. However, after one of the servants let them in, they overhear Colonel Wakefield planning revenge on them and the Milford family. Unable to get out of the house without being discovered, they try to hide. Elmer is found by the Colonel in Gloria’s room, and the Colonel immediately sends for a minister.

(Narrator plays “Here Comes The Bride” on organ backstage)

(Host): (Walking backstage): No, no, no! Not now! You’re a few days (and one post) too early!

(Sounds of a cartoon hammer hitting someone on the head)

(Music stops)

(Host): (Walking back onstage, drops a big rubber mallet on the way out): Right then. Willie tries at first to pose as the minister, but the real one shows up, and they both get out of Dodge as quickly as they can. The next day, the Colonel gets all the Wakefields together to shoot the Milfords, but Gloria warns Elmer and Willie before the Wakefields arrive. However, when they get into a carriage to leave, Spanky gets out to break the glass in the greenhouse, and they’re stuck there.

(Checks backstage on the narrator, finds him starting to wake up).

(Host): (Whispering): I better stop right there. Any further, and the narrator may start a feud to go along with the story!

(Host): As far as it goes, this movie is my first experience with the comedy team of Wheeler and Woolsey. The only reason I can claim to have heard of them before I decided to try this movie is that I saw requests for their films on the Warner Archive Facebook fan page many times earlier in the decade (requests that obviously ceased to happen after Warner Archive released all of the Warner-owned films on DVD). But, Kentucky Kernels was another thirties film released to Blu-ray (and a comedy to boot, in a year I enjoy comedies that much more), so I figured I would give it a shot. And boy, am I glad I did! From start to finish, the comedy of Wheeler and Woolsey won me over, and kept me laughing! Their comedy was mainly dialogue-driven, but it worked well enough for me!

(Host): Of course, they were hardly all the fun here, as “Spanky” McFarland certainly entertained throughout the movie! If there was any unbroken glass left over, it was only because he didn’t notice it! Of course, I will also say that I enjoyed the film’s one big musical number, the song “One Little Kiss” which was written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby (to be fair, there was one other song, “Supper Song,” but it was so short it hardly seems worth mentioning). It’ll be a while before “One Little Kiss” isn’t stuck in my head (but, like I said, I enjoyed it, so that’s not a bad problem)! If there’s any criticism to level against this movie, it would be directed towards actor Willie Best (who is billed here as “Sleep ‘n’ Eat”). To be fair, it’s not so much him, it’s the material he has to work with, which is obviously rather racist. Luckily, he is for the most part in the background or at least has quick appearances, and it’s easy enough to get past it (at least, it is for me). I enjoyed this movie quite easily, and I certainly recommend it!

(Host): This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection, with the Blu-ray boasting a 4K scan of the original nitrate camera negative. Simply stated, the movie looks fantastic! As much as I enjoyed it, I hope it does well enough for them to release a few more of the Wheeler and Woolsey films on Blu-ray!

(disappears from center stage in a puff of smoke)

(Narrator): There he goes! Stage right!

(Starts to run after trying to tiptoe off)

(Falls through trapdoor)

(Host): Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! (Slams into ground) Ow.

(Host): (From down below) Now why couldn’t that have happened with the other trapdoor when I was trying to disappear before?

(Narrator): He, he, he.

Film Length: 1 hour, 15 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

College Humor (1933) – Mary Carlisle – Double Or Nothing (1937)

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2019 on… The Naughty Nineties (1945)

We’re back again today to help the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society continue celebrating the month of July as Clean Movie Month 2020, and we’ll start off today’s double-feature with the classic 1945 Abbott and Costello comedy The Naughty Nineties.

Coming Up Shorts! with… We’re On Our Way To Rio (1943)

(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, 50 seconds)

Popeye and Bluto come to Rio, where they run into Olive Oyl as a nightclub singer. Another fun cartoon. While it may be “Popeye Vs. Bluto,” it feels better than the formula would become later on. Of course, this short is a good example of the “Good Neighbor Policy” of the times (and we also get a reference to the rationing of the period, with the points on Popeye’s can of spinach). A lot of fun here, with some fun music, too, so this one is worth seeing every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In the 1890s, Captain Sam Jackson (Henry Travers) brings his traveling show boat The River Queen to Ironville along the Mississippi River. He introduces his new cast, which includes his daughter, Caroline Jackson (Lois Collier), and new leading man Dexter Broadhurst (Bud Abbott). At the same time, three gamblers, Bonita Farrow (Rita Johnson), Bailey (Joe Sawyer) and Crawford (Alan Curtis), are told by the sheriff to leave town that night. Before they leave for St. Louis, the three gamblers plan a party for Captain Sam when he arrives there. In St. Louis, Dexter and his buddy Sebastian Dinwiddle (Lou Costello) try (and fail) to stop Captain Sam from gambling at the party. Soon, they find the gamblers now have a share in the River Queen, and decide to make use of Captain Sam’s reputation for honesty in putting in some gambling rooms while Captain Sam tries to earn enough to pay them back. Obviously, Captain Sam doesn’t like this arrangement, and even Crawford finds it distasteful after someone is shot for accusing him of cheating (that, and his growing interest in Caroline). Dexter and Sebastian try to help, but it all comes down to one quick hand of poker to determine who maintains full control of The River Queen.

Ok, let’s get it out of the way. This movie is mainly known for having the complete “Who’s On First?” comedy routine done by Bud and Lou (as compared to the partial routine used in One Night In The Tropics). Reportedly, the director had trouble filming it, as the boys caused the crew to burst into laughter every time they tried to film it, and so that laughter ended up being left in. Now, personally, I can’t claim to have heard it, but for good reason: I’m just as prone to cracking up every time I watch them do it myself, so it’s hard for me to hear anything in the background over my own laughter! “Who’s On First?” was later inducted into the National Baseball Hall Of Fame, and it is this version from The Naughty Nineties that has been playing there on monitors continuously ever since.

But “Who’s On First?” is hardly the only reason to watch this movie. The boys also have a few other routines, including “Higher/Lower” (a.k.a. “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”) and “Feathers In The Cake.” And I certainly get a kick out of watching them deal with a sleepwalking Bailey (as played by Joe Sawyer), when he constantly attacks Lou and then pauses to say “I Must Tell This To The General” (sure, it’s not exactly politically correct, since he believes he is fighting Indians, but it’s still a fun scene, just the same). And then there’s Lou with the “catfish burgers” (or maybe I should say “cat”)! Just many wonderful moments!

I can’t deny that this movie reminds me of the 1936 Show Boat. And well it should, considering they re-used the river boat from that film as the River Queen in this one. Admittedly, The Naughty Nineties doesn’t compare to that movie. While my ratings are the same between the two, my opinion of Show Boat is reflective of what I think of that movie as a whole, while my rating of The Naughty Nineties is based on the goodwill garnered from watching Bud and Lou, ESPECIALLY with their “Who’s On First?” routine, as the music and romance of this movie are not its strengths.

Still, it’s a good Code movie. All the violence is very comical in nature, whether it be in some of Bud and Lou’s routines, or their fight with the bad guys to end the movie. Obviously, there’s no swearing, with Lou’s line “I don’t give a darn” from “Who’s On First? being as close as it gets. And while we do see the gamblers in charge for a while, it’s obvious that they will be caught by the end of the movie. But I do enjoy this movie a lot! To see Bud and Lou do one of their best-known routines is well worth it, and it’s very easy to recommend this one!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 16 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #7 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Here Come The Co-Eds (1945)Bud Abbott/ Lou CostelloAbbott And Costello In Hollywood (1945)

Here Come The Co-Eds (1945)The Complete Abbott And Costello Universal Pictures CollectionLittle Giant (1946)

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… Remember The Night (1940)

For today’s post, I’m pulling double-duty here, as I take part in the Queen Of Sass: Barbara Stanwyck blogathon hosted by Pale Writer, while also helping the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society celebrate Clean Movie Month 2020!  And with that let’s get into today’s movie, Remember The Night starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Marry-Go-Round (1943)

(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, 52 seconds)

Popeye’s pal Shorty tries to help him propose to Olive. A bit of fun here, with Shorty being one of those characters I have very little recollection of, and so it’s fun to see somebody else for a change. Once again, no Bluto (oh, if only that could have lasted longer), which keeps this one fresh. And, of course, they get their Paramount references in, with pin-up pictures of actress Dorothy Lamour. All in all, a fun cartoon, while also staying clean enough for the Code!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Right before the Christmas holidays, Lee Leander (Barbara Stanwyck) steals some jewelry, but is quickly caught.  Assistant district attorney John “Jack” Sargent (Fred MacMurray) is chosen to prosecute.  However, in between the theatrics of Lee’s lawyer, Francis X. O’Leary (Willie Robertson), and the holiday spirit of the jury, which seems likely to get her acquitted, John decides to get the trial postponed.  However, when he hears Lee complaining about being in jail over the holidays, his conscience gets the better of him and he gets the bail bondsman to let her out.  However, the bondsman has the wrong idea, as he brings her over to John’s apartment, and then leaves.  John and Lee quickly sort things out, and he offers her a dinner out.  While at the nightclub, he learns that she is also from Indiana, from a town relatively close to where he is returning for the holidays, so he offers to give her a ride there.  However, once she arrives home, Lee finds her mother just as mean and unforgiving as she remembered, and Jack offers to bring her back to his home.  There, they are greeted by John’s mother (Beulah Bondi), his aunt Emma (Elizabeth Patterson) and their helper Willie (Sterling Holloway).  They are thrilled to have Lee with them, and offer her a place to stay.  Privately, John tells his mother about Lee, but she still does her best to help her feel like part of the family.  However, Emma smells a romance brewing, and does her best to encourage it, much to Mrs. Sargent’s dismay.  The night before John and Lee have to start their return trip, Mrs. Sargent takes Lee aside and tries to tell her how hard John worked to get where he was, work which may be undone if they continue their relationship.  Lee understands, and really sees John changing as he tries to encourage her not to return (although she firmly insists on coming back).  But, what will be the end result of her trial?

Remember The Night is remembered (ok, pun intended) for being the last movie that writer Preston Sturges wrote but didn’t direct.  The film’s director, Mitchell Liesen (who had previously directed the Sturges film Easy Living), famously pulled a number of scenes and dialogue that Sturges wrote, infuriating the writer. As a result, Preston Sturges made a big push to direct his next film himself, to great acclaim! Of course, in spite of all his troubles and complaints about the director, Preston Sturges still liked the end result with this movie. During filming, he also got to know Barbara Stanwyck, and promised to write a screwball comedy for her (which wasn’t in her usual wheelhouse at that time). Of course, a year later that promise was fulfilled when he wrote (and directed) one of her best-known comedies, The Lady Eve (personally, I haven’t seen it yet, but as a screwball comedy, and recently restored for Blu-ray, you can bet it’s one I hope to see soon)!

And, speaking of Barbara Stanwyck, since she is one of the reasons why we’re here for this post, let’s talk about her! Obviously, this is the first film that teamed up both her and Fred MacMurray (and so far, the only one of the four that I’ve seen, although I hope one of these days to see Double Indemnity). Offscreen, I have to admire all that I’ve read about her with regard to this movie. The movie was finished ahead of time and within the budget, and most of that was attributed to her and her professionalism on set. I have to admire her for that, especially reading about how she had a bad back, not helped by the corset she had to wear for the barn dance. Yet, she still hung around, ready for whenever they needed her. Never mind wearing winter clothing for the scene involving her and the cow when it was filmed in really warm weather! I just can’t begin to admire her enough for that!

And onscreen, she does such a great job! I know I love watching her as her lawyer gets carried away with her defense. At first, she seems fine with it, until Fred MacMurray’s assistant D.A. gets the trial postponed, and then she lets her lawyer have it, claiming is defense was such an old gag, she wasn’t surprised it didn’t work! And of course, she plays a woman who’s been around, as she doesn’t seem surprised when the bail bondsman brings her around to the apartment, fully expecting that she was there for an affair! But, at the same time, she makes you feel for her, especially when you meet her mother, and you have no problems then understanding why she struggled to stay on the straight and narrow! She may not have been the focus or the hero from what Preston Sturges originally wrote, but the film’s director wisely made her more important, as you do feel for her, and like seeing her in a more loving environment! Seriously, I just love her performance here!

Of course, the movie itself is also fun to watch every now and then (but especially at Christmastime)! For the most part, it’s definitely Code friendly. Admittedly, the hinted-at “affair”, whether it be the bail bondsman’s reason for bringing her to the apartment, or just the assumptions of others, like the one farmer who brought them in under citizen’s arrest, probably don’t quite fit the Code. Still, it’s only hinted at (and may go over the heads of the younger audience), so it’s not too bad. With the rest of the cast working well here, too, including Sterling Holloway, who’s rather fun as the over-worked hired hand for Mrs. Sargent (and who gets a brief moment to sing the song “A Perfect Day”). A very wonderful movie, easy to watch any time of the year (but, as I said, it’s best around Christmas), and one I very highly recommend!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios.

Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Internes Can’t Take Money (1937)Barbara StanwyckThe Lady Eve (1941)

The Bride Comes Home (1935) – Fred MacMurray – Murder, He Says (1945)

The Cat And The Fiddle (1934) – Sterling Holloway – Make Mine Music (1946)

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 (2020) on… Lost In A Harem (1944)

Over at The Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, they have been celebrating the month of July as Clean Movie Month 2020, in honor of the beginning of the Breen Code Era (1934-1954), and so, since I have a few movies to work with from that era, I figured I would join in! And to do so, I’ll start in with the first half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, which is their 1944 MGM comedy Lost In A Harem.

In the Arabian city of Port Inferno, a pair of bad magicians, Peter Johnson (Bud Abbott) and Harvey Garvey (Lou Costello), accidentally start a fight in a nightclub that results in the two of them being thrown in jail, along with their blond-haired singer friend Hazel Moon (Marilyn Maxwell). However, they are given the opportunity to escape by Prince Ramo (John Conte), who needs their help (or, more specifically, Hazel’s, but she won’t do it unless Peter and Harvey can go along with her). Once they all get to Ramo’s camp in the desert, he reveals that he needs their help to regain the throne from his evil uncle Nimativ (Douglas Dumbrille), since he is crazy about blondes. However, once Peter, Harvey and Hazel sneak into the palace, Nimativ quickly realizes their purpose and hypnotizes the three of them with his rings. Lucky for them, Ramo sneaks in and sticks them with a pin to break their trance, but he is quickly captured. Peter and Harvey get away, hiding among Nimativ’s harem, but they are soon discovered and captured themselves. They are soon freed (in and out of jail a lot, aren’t they?), but can they manage to stop Nimativ and help Ramo regain the throne?

Even though Lost In A Harem was the second film in Abbott and Costello’s contract with MGM, it had originally been intended to be their first film. However, some of the plot elements from the original script ended up being used in their first film, Rio Rita, and so changes were made to continue on with Lost In A Harem. However, production was delayed nearly a year because of Lou’s bout with rheumatic fever and the death of his son. Between their salaries and the costs of the movie production (although it helped a little that they re-used sets from the 1944 Kismet), the movie proved to be expensive to produce (but it paid off onscreen)!

Of the three films that Bud and Lou made for MGM, I would have to say that I like this one the best. The main reason is that I consider the comedy routines they do here some of my favorites. I love how they interact with actor Murray Leonard as the Derelict, doing the “Slowly I Turned” comedy routine with him near the beginning of the movie, and making it something of a running joke throughout the movie. Makes me laugh every time (just don’t expect me to list the name of the place that shouldn’t be mentioned 😉 )! And it feels just as appropriate when they bring him back for the “Invisible Friend” routine! Between those moments, I just love watching these two! I’ll admit, the music isn’t particularly memorable (for me), but that’s a minor complaint. The hypnosis factor always allows for good comedy (and allows for any acting issues for Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra)!

This movie was indeed made during the Code era, and it works. Admittedly, from what I have read, the censors were originally worried about the costumes for all the harem girls. Personally, I don’t think there is any problem with it, but, then again, opinions may vary. There is very little violence in this movie, and what little there is is generally comically exaggerated. My own opinion is that this movie is just good, clean fun, and it’s one I enjoy watching every now and then! Certainly one I would highly recommend!

This movie is available on DVD paired with Abbott And Costello In Hollywood (1945) from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #10 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

In Society (1944) Bud Abbott/ Lou CostelloHere Come The Co-Eds (1945)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Her Honor, The Mare (1943)

(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.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 7 minutes, 15 seconds)

Popeye’s nephews bring home a horse rejected by the glue factory, but he doesn’t want the horse in the house. A few fun gags as Popeye’s nephews try to get the horse past Popeye. Certainly more fun since it is not as formulaic as some of the later cartoons would be, with no sign of either Olive or Bluto. And certainly, influenced by the times and the Code to keep it clean for everyone. Not one of Popeye’s best, but at least it’s a nice change from the usual “Popeye Vs. Bluto” formula that became a little too prevalent!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 1 set), along with other shorts!

Coming Up Shorts! With… Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3

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.

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! Once again, I’m sticking with theatrical shorts featuring Popeye The Sailor, this time the shorts from 1948 and 1949 that have been released together on disc in Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. Olive Oyl For President (1948) (Length: 6 minutes)
    • Popeye dreams of what it would be like if Olive ran for U.S. President (and won).
  2. Wigwam Whoopee (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Following right behind the Mayflower, Popeye runs into Indian princess Olive, while dealing with an Indian chief who also has designs on her.
  3. Pre-Hysterical Man (1948) (Length: 6 minutes, 50 seconds)
    • While in Yellowstone, Olive falls off a tall peak into a deep hole where a caveman and dinosaur reside, and Popeye has to save her.
  4. Popeye Meets Hercules (1948) (Length: 7 minutes)
    • In ancient Greece, Popeye takes on Hercules in the first Olympics.
  5. A Wolf In Sheik’s Clothing (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • While exploring the desert, Olive expresses a desire to kiss a sheik (and wouldn’t you know it, one just happens to be nearby and tries to take her away from Popeye).
  6. Spinach vs. Hamburgers (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 57 seconds)
    • Popeye tries to convince his four nephews of the merits of eating spinach instead of hamburgers.
  7. Snow Place Like Home (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 14 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive are caught in a tornado that takes them WAY up north from Miami, where they run into the now lovestruck Pierre.
  8. Robin Hood-Winked (1948) (Length: 7 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Popeye is Robin Hood and must rescue Olive from the tax collector, Bluto.
  9. Symphony In Spinach (1948) (Length: 6 minutes, 29 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto compete for a spot in Olive’s band.
  10. Popeye’s Premiere (1949) (Length: 10 minutes, 47 seconds)
    • Popeye and Olive are at the premiere of his short “Popeye in Aladdin’s Lamp.”
  11. Lumberjack And Jill (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 30 seconds)
    • Lumberjacks Popeye and Bluto fight over the new camp cook, Olive.
  12. Hot Air Aces (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 35 seconds)
    • Popeye and Bluto compete in an airplane race around the world.
  13. A Balmy Swami (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 49 seconds)
    • Popeye has to deal with magician Bluto when he hypnotizes Olive.
  14. Tar With A Star (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 46 seconds)
    • Popeye becomes sheriff of a western town, until Wild Bill Bluto shows up.
  15. Silly Hillbilly (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • Popeye brings his department store out to the hills, where he runs into hillbillies that included Olive and Bluto.
  16. Barking Dogs Don’t Fite (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)
    • Popeye is stuck walking Olive’s new French poodle when they encounter Bluto and his big bulldog.
  17. The Fly’s Last Flight (1949) (Length: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)
    • A tired Popeye tries to take a nap, but finds it interrupted by many things, particularly a fly.

As I’ve said previously, I’m still no expert on theatrical shorts beyond what I can find on Wikipedia. This set continues the run of Famous Studios Popeye shorts, with varying results. The “Popeye Vs. Bluto” formula runs throughout most of these. That being said, there is at least some variety in this bunch beyond that. Obviously, we have the first cartoon in the set, Olive Oyl For President, which focuses more on Olive and what she would do if elected to the presidency. We also have The Fly’s Last Flight focusing on Popeye going up against a stubborn fly. Spinach Vs. Hamburgers and Popeye’s Premiere also go against the grain, except they are both clip shows, making use of footage from earlier (and mostly better) cartoons. Beyond those, the rest can and do focus on Popeye duking it out with Bluto.

I will readily admit that I continued to have fun with this set! Continuing the run of 1940s Popeye cartoons started with the Volume 1 and Volume 2 sets, these did manage to be fun! Sure, they have become rather formulaic by this point, and the gags might not be as good as earlier, but they’re still enough fun to watch! Obviously, I still continue to watch them slowly, one before each movie I watch, to keep them from getting too old too fast like they might be if I just binge-watched the set. And yes, a number of them definitely struggle with politically incorrect portrayals, with Wigwam Whoopee being one of the worst, as well as the clip from Pop-Pie A La Mode included as part of Spinach Vs. Hamburger, but, then again, we’re warned about that (in between my own disclaimer as well as the official one included in the disc’s startup). Warner Archive has continued their preservation project, making 4K scans of the original nitrate negatives as much as possible. These shorts continue to look great, far better than you would dream would be possible based on what has been seen in recent years! Obviously, one wishes that all the elements still existed to do right by A Wolf In Sheik’s Clothing, but they did well enough, and this set is definitely recommended for Popeye fans, especially if they want more from the series (either continuing on with shorts from the 1950s or going back and improving the shorts from the 1930s to be able to put them on Blu-ray)!

Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, one minute.

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Design For Living (1933)

“Immorality may be fun, but it isn’t fun enough to take the place of 100% virtue and three square meals a day.” – Max Plunkett (Edward Everett Horton)

Now we have a bit of pre-Code fun with the 1933 movie Design For Living, starring Fredric March, Gary Cooper and Miriam Hopkins.

On a train bound for Paris, playwright Tom Chambers (Fredric March) and his painter friend/roommate George Curtis (Gary Cooper) meet commercial artist Gilda Farrell (Miriam Hopkins). They both take a liking to her (and she to them). Her boss and friend, advertising executive Max Plunkett (Edward Everett Horton), objects to their relationships, but his words fall on deaf ears (well, except Tommy, who borrows a quote for a play he is writing). Tom and George start arguing over Gilda, and she proposes a new arrangement: the three of them live together, with her pushing them to do better in their respective arts, but no sex. In no time at all, she helps Tom get his play in front of a big London theatrical producer, and he has to leave to help with rehearsals. After he leaves, George and Gilda end up breaking the pact (and let Tom know about it). After almost a year of success with his play, Tom comes back, only to find George became enough of a success to have moved in to a more upscale apartment. He also finds Gilda still receptive to him, but George arrives back from a trip early, only to find them together. When the two men start arguing again, she leaves them both, unable to decide between them. She marries Max, who takes her to the U.S., but soon finds herself bored with him.

Design For Living was based on a play written by (and starring) Noel Coward. When Paramount bought the rights, it was given to director Ernst Lubitsch. He brought in writer Ben Hecht to do the screenplay, who ended up changing a lot of things around, and, at most, kept one line of dialogue from the play. Lubitsch wanted Miriam Hopkins for the role of Gilda Farrell right from the start, but had trouble casting the male leads. He wanted Ronald Colman and Leslie Howard, but they were either too expensive or uninterested. Then Fredric March was brought in, along with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (although Fairbanks pulled out when he came down with pneumonia). So Gary Cooper, then mainly known as an action star, was cast. Critics and audiences at the time weren’t kind to the movie, but it has gained in popularity over time.

This is a movie I hadn’t heard of before. I only discovered it when I was looking for movies with Edward Everett Horton in them after I stopped to realize he was one of those actors well represented within my own film collection that I hadn’t been actively trying to collect the films of. Of course, Gary Cooper also starring in it didn’t hurt either, not to mention being directed by Ernst Lubitsch, who has done a few movies I like. So, I finally got the chance to see it, and I really enjoyed it! I’ll admit, it’s the earliest Gary Cooper movie I’ve seen, so I’ve already seen some of his later comedies. So, it was no surprise to me that he handled the comedy well. And, of course, Edward Everett Horton didn’t disappoint, either! The movie is easily full of good comedy and many wonderful and memorable lines! The pre-Code elements certainly make this movie fun, giving us the reverse of the usual situation (just like the movie indicates) with one woman falling in love with two men and trying to figure out which she prefers. The pre-Code elements are relatively tame compared to what would be in most movies of this type today, but I would still be wary of showing this movie to young kids, if only because sex is still enough of a topic in it. Still, I very much enjoyed this comedy, and I would very much recommend it to anybody willing to give it a try!

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Eagle And The Hawk (1933) – Fredric March – Nothing Sacred (1937)

Morocco (1930) – Gary Cooper – Alice In Wonderland (1933)

Fast And Loose (1930) – Miriam Hopkins

Holiday (1930) – Edward Everett Horton – Alice In Wonderland (1933)

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Fly’s Last Flight (1949)

(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.

Welcome to my new feature on various theatrical shorts! Sometimes my comments will be on shorts included as extras on a disc set I am reviewing, and other times, they will be completely unrelated to the movie being reviewed (and I will try to indicate which). Hope you enjoy!

(Length: 6 minutes, 41 seconds)

A tired Popeye tries to take a nap, but finds it interrupted by many things, particularly a fly. Well, at least this one broke completely with the formula! No Bluto in sight (o Olive, for that matter), and for once, the spinach was used AGAINST Popeye. Not the greatest short ever, but it was fun seeing one that tried to do something a little different!

And stay tuned for more of Coming Up Shorts! featuring more of Popeye (and the eventual post on the entire 1940s Volume 3 set), along with other shorts!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Rio Rita (1942)

For the first half of today’s Abbott and Costello double-feature, we move away from their Universal output over to their 1942 MGM film Rio Rita.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Silly Hillbilly (1949)

(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: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)

Popeye brings his department store out to the hills, where he runs into hillbillies that included Olive and Bluto. Yep, another cartoon with Popeye and Bluto fighting over Olive. I’ll admit, there’s some fun to be had here, even though it seems different from the type, with the city slicker winning out over the hillbilly. But the gags work well enough and I enjoyed seeing this one!

And Now For The Main Feature…

After being fired from their job in a Texas pet shop, New Yorkers Doc (Bud Abbott) and Wishy Dunne (Lou Costello) hop in the trunk of a car, hoping it will take them to New York. However, it belongs to singing star Ricardo Montera (John Carroll), who is returning to his hometown of Vista Del Rio. The owner of the hotel there, Rita Winslow (Kathryn Grayson), was a childhood friend of Ricardo’s, although she is disappointed when he doesn’t recognize her. Trouble is brewing at the hotel, as, unbeknownst to her, the hotel’s manager Maurice Craindall (Tom Conway) is a Nazi spy, who is planning to use Ricardo’s upcoming national radio broadcast to plan sabotage. After they finally get out of Ricardo’s trunk, Doc and Wishy make their way over to the hotel, where they find some food. Maurice and some of his men catch them eating, and attempt to throw them out, but Rita says that she gave them the food and offers them jobs as the house detectives. In return, they try to help her out with Ricardo, who they find with Lucette Brunswick (Patricia Dane), who is distracting Ricardo on behalf of Maurice. Doc and Wishy attempt to bribe Lucette to get her to leave Ricardo alone, but they find themselves involved when an agent of the Secret Service gives them a codebook before being shot. With all this trouble going on, can they foil the Nazi agents and help Ricardo and Rita get together?

After having become a big success on stage and radio, Abbott and Costello had turned their attention towards Hollywood. Signing with Universal, they quickly rose towards the top with their second film Buck Privates. While still under contract with Universal Studios, they signed a three-film deal with MGM. Their first movie of this contract would be Rio Rita, a remake of the 1929 movie based on a Broadway show that featured comedy team Wheeler and Woolsey. The new film included two songs from the original show, “Rio Rita” and “The Ranger’s Song,” while included some new music written for this version. The story was updated to include the likes of a Nazi spy ring, and they also allowed room for Abbott and Costello’s somewhat improvised antics.

Of the three MGM films that Abbott and Costello made, I consider this one to be the middle of the pack. Not quite as much emphasis on the boys as I would prefer, although I do enjoy the supporting cast in this one. While it is one of her earliest roles, I think Kathryn Grayson still shows great promise as an actress. Admittedly, the filmmakers didn’t try to push her into joining in the comedy too much (which isn’t a bad thing), but I still like her. They boys do get a fair number of comedic moments, including doing their routine “Buzzing The Bee.” I don’t know how this movie fares compared against the original film version of Rio Rita, but I do enjoy it. Admittedly, the music is rather forgettable (but at least Kathryn Grayson’s voice makes up for it). Had the boys been given a bit more room for some of their comedy routines, instead of taking over roles previously occupied by another comedy team of Wheeler and Woolsey, this one could have been better. Still, I do enjoy watching it now and then, and for that reason I do find it worth recommending!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Ride ‘Em Cowboy (1942) Bud Abbott/ Lou Costello – Pardon My Sarong (1942)

Kathryn Grayson – Anchors Aweigh (1945)

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!

TFTMM 2020 & WOIANRA 2018 on… Tammy And The Bachelor (1957)

Now we have another fun movie, the 1957 classic Tammy And The Bachelor starring Debbie Reynolds, Leslie Nielsen and Walter Brennan.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Tar With A Star (1949)

(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: 6 minutes, 46 seconds)

Popeye becomes sheriff of a western town, until Wild Bill Bluto shows up. Yes, it’s still Popeye fighting Bluto over Olive, but at least this time, it takes a few minutes for Bluto to show up, as Popeye cleans up the town. A few different gags related to the situation, which make it fun. One of the better shorts from this group, as I enjoyed it very much!

And Now For The Main Feature…

When Peter Brent (Leslie Nielsen) crashes in a Louisiana swamp, he is rescued by preacher John Dinwitty (Walter Brennan) and his granddaughter, Tambrey “Tammy” Tyree (Debbie Reynolds). Peter is in bad shape, but Tammy helps nurse him back to health. After he leaves, Tammy’s grandfather is arrested for bootlegging, and he sends her off to stay with Peter and his family. Walking with her goat, Nan, she makes it to Brentwood Hall, where she falls asleep from exhaustion. Peter and his family, which includes his father, Professor Brent (Sidney Blackmer), his mother (Fay Wray) and his aunt Rennie (Mildred Natwick) take her in. Peter, much to his family’s consternation, is trying to grow tomatoes in an attempt to make the farm self-sustaining again, while his mother is preparing for Pilgrimage Week to show tourists what things were like in the Old South. Tammy disturbs them with her plain ways and her refusal to keep quiet. She has fallen in love with Peter, but has competition from his girlfriend, Barbara (Mala Powers). Peter’s aunt Rennie likes Tammy, however, and she encourages Tammy to stay on and help Peter out.

Tammy And The Bachelor, which started a movie franchise, owed much of its success to the title tune! The movie was based on the novel Tammy Out Of Time by Cid Ricketts Sumner, but didn’t start out as much of a success at the box office. The title tune, written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, was recorded by the Ames Brothers for the opening credits, and by Debbie Reynolds, who sang it partway through the film. Unlike the movie’s slow start at the box office, Debbie’s record took off. The executives at Universal Studios pulled the movie from theaters, giving the song a chance to catch on, and then reissued the film to great success! A sequel was planned, but by the time they got to it nearly four years later, Debbie Reynolds (about 25 playing a 17-year-old for Tammy And The Bachelor) was about thirty and very busy, so they recast the role of Tammy with Sandra Dee for the next two movies, before casting Debbie Watson for the one season TV series (with four episodes cobbled together for one last movie).

In spite of the fact she was already leaning a little too old for the part, I still say that Debbie Reynolds is what makes this movie work so well! I love watching how she is able to tell others what she thinks most of the time, as her observations tend to be correct. Of course, she is still a bit naive, and that makes for some fun when she says some things that the adults mis-interpret as innuendo! And I know I don’t mind the idea of just sitting and listening to her telling her story when all the tourists are listening during Pilgrimage Week! Now, there are some things about this that don’t work, such as how some of the characters make light of slavery, whether it be Aunt Rennie claiming some of her paintings were done by slaves in an attempt to sell them, or making their black servant wear a slave bandanna (although, to be fair, the character doesn’t like it, and Debbie’s Tammy doesn’t like the look either). Still, I’ve enjoyed seeing this movie multiple times, and it’s one I have no trouble recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Tender Trap (1955) – Debbie Reynolds – It Started With A Kiss (1959)

The Opposite Sex (1956) – Leslie Nielsen

To Have And Have Not (1944) – Walter Brennan

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 (2020) with… Show Boat (1936)

And now we have that classic 1936 film musical Show Boat, starring Irene Dunne and Allan Jones!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Balmy Swami (1949)

(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: 6 minutes, 49 seconds)

Popeye has to deal with magician Bluto when he hypnotizes Olive. You guessed it, we’re back to Popeye Vs. Bluto fighting over Olive. Certainly some fun gags, with Bluto making use of his magic, even when they get beyond the theater they start out in and move on to the construction site where Olive has walked to in her trance. While it really doesn’t break any new ground, I still enjoyed this one, and feel it is worth a shot!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Captain Andy Hawks (Charles Winninger) runs the show boat The Cotton Palace with his family and his theatrical troupe, which includes leading man Steve Baker (Donald Cook) and his leading lady Julie LaVerne (Helen Morgan), plus comedic dance team Frank Schultz (Sammy White) and Elly (Queenie Smith). Trouble comes, though, when it is revealed that Julie, who had one black parent, was married to Steve, a white man, which was illegal in that area. While they got out of that trouble, Steve and Julie were forced to leave the Cotton Palace just the same. Captain Hawks decided to promote his daughter, Magnolia Hawks (Irene Dunne), to the leading lady, and brought in river gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Allan Jones) to be the leading man, since he was seeking passage elsewhere anyways. Magnolia and Gaylord fall for each other, much to the dismay of her mother Parthy Ann Hawks (Helen Westley). Soon, they get married in spite of Parthy’s objections. A year later, Magnolia gives birth to their daughter, Kim, and Gaylord decides the three of them should move to Chicago. At first, all seems to go well, but then Gaylord gambles and spends all their money. Frank and Elly come to Chicago looking for a cheap place to stay since they got a job at a local nightclub, and they find the apartment they are looking at is being rented by none other than Magnolia and Gaylord! Of course, their timing couldn’t be worse, as Magnolia and Gaylord are being evicted and Gaylord decides to leave her, so she must find a job to survive. She auditions at the club where Frank and Elly are working, but it is only after the club’s current singer (which turns out to be Julie LaVerne) leaves that Magnolia is given the job. Magnolia’s parents have come to town in time for New Year’s Eve to see her, but it is her father who comes across her singing at the nightclub. When he sees her start to falter, he tries to support her, giving her the needed confidence that allows her to become a star on stage and make a comeback.

Edna Ferber published her novel Show Boat in 1926. Universal Studios soon bought the rights to the story, hoping to make a silent movie out of it. However, before they could finish, The Jazz Singer premiered, ushering in the era of sound in the movies. And of course there was also Ziegfeld’s successful production of the stage musical with music by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Universal tried to buy the rights to the score from the musical, but by that time, enough of the movie had been done that it was too late for them to do much more than add a few of the songs to an otherwise silent movie. However, after a few years and more financial success for the studio through their horror films, they were able to try to do it again as a more full-blown musical. And, in their favor, they were able to put together a cast that consisted of cast members from the Broadway show’s original run as well as other revivals and touring shows, plus bring back the composers for a few new songs and rewrites. The results were big, with the 1936 version becoming the most highly regarded film version of the tale.

I am at this point more or less coming off my first full viewing of this movie, after having seen the later 1951 MGM musical many times over the years (but I’ll worry about comparing the two another day). With this movie, I can’t help but admit to having enjoyed it very much! Sure, the movie does have its issues, with Irene Dunne wearing blackface for one song on the show boat, not to mention the portrayals of most of the black characters being a little too stereotypical. In spite of all that, though, I can’t help but enjoy it! The movie overall is wonderful with bits of comedy here and there (especially when Charles Winninger’s Captain Andy tries to show the audience what would have happened had the show not been interrupted by an audience member who forgot they were watching a show and threatened the show’s “villain”). And the music is wonderful, too! Hearing Paul Robeson’s version of “Ol’ Man River” was very much a treat to watch and listen to! All the performances work well for me, and I can’t deny the film’s ending certainly tugs on your heartstrings (at least it does mine)! So I would DEFINITELY recommend trying this one!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. This release features a brand-new 4K restoration of the movie, and it looks absolutely fantastic! I can’t recommend it enough! At the moment, I’d certainly put in for this being one of the best looking releases of the year (obviously, that can change, but I admit I like it just the same)! This release also features some footage from the 1929 version, with some of the sound segments as well as about twenty minutes worth of the silent movie (even if it appears to be standard definition), plus two radio shows featuring some of the cast, as well as a few other featurettes on the director and actor Paul Robeson. Overall, a release worth recommending!

Film Length: 1 hour, 54 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #4 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Stingaree (1934) – Irene Dunne – The Awful Truth (1937)

Rose-Marie (1936) – Allan Jones – One Night In The Tropics (1940)

Charles Winninger – Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)