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Hollywood Movie Memories » 1940’s musical

Posts Tagged ‘1940’s musical’

Good News

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Good News

Starring – June Allyson (Connie Lane), Peter Lawford (Tommy Marlowe), Patricia Marshall (Pat McClellan), Joan McCracken (Babe Doolittle), Ray McDonald (Bobby Turner), Mel Torme (Danny).

Released – December, 1947

Directed By – Charles Walters

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – It’s the Roaring 20’s, and the social scene at Tait College is every bit as important as the academics. There’s a big sorority party coming up, and everyone is looking forward to the big event.

Especially, Pat McClellan, who has just completed finishing school and pledged to the Phi Gamma Gamma Sorority. Pat’s display of her newly acquired sophistication, and French language speaking skills, oozes attention grabbing vanity and she catches the eye of each member of the Tait College football team.

Most notably, Tommy Marlowe, the teams captain. Knowing, and disapproving a gold-digging vamp when she sees one is school student and librarian Connie Lane. Connie herself has had a big crush on Tommy for some time.

At the party, Pat pays little attention to Tommy as she has her sights set on Peter Van Dyne III who comes from a well-to-do- family. This slight only makes Tommy want Pat more and he feels that if he can learn to speak French he can win Pat over.

Tommy asks Connie to help tutor him in French and she reluctantly agrees. When Babe Doolittle, Connie’s roommate, learns of the situation, she is afraid that Tommy’s disappointment will affect the football team and hurt their chances in the upcoming big game. She decides to tell Pat that Tommy is the heir to a pickle fortune. This immediately changes Pat’s mind about Tommy.

In the meantime, Tommy has asked Connie to the prom and she couldn’t be happier. However, her happiness is short-lived, as Pat has now flirted seriously enough with Tommy to get him to drop his date with Connie and take her to the prom.

As the relationship between Tommy and Pat continues, Tommy’s grades begin to slip and there is a chance that he will not be allowed to participate in the big game. Once again, Connie is asked to come to the rescue.

Can the game be saved, and will Connie finally be able to wrestle Tommy away from the gold-digging Pat? It is now up to Connie to put together a game winning plan.

NOTABLE: In the film, Connie tutor’s Tommy to speak French. While in real life, Peter Lawford spoke Frence fluently and had to teach June Allyson how to teach him onscreen.

Good News was one of three films that June Allyson considered to be her personal favorites of all the pictures in which she appeared.

Actress Gloria DeHaven was to appear in one of the films key roles. She refused and found herself suspended by MGM. One of the problems of being a contract player.

Good News was first released in pre-code 1930, and had become illegal to view or display in the United States. This version was revamped removing all sexual innuendo and lewd humor.



The Jolson Story

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

The Jolson Story

Starring – Larry Parks (Al Jolson), Evelyn Keyes (Julie Benson), William Demarest (Steve Martin), Bill Goodwin (Tom Baron). 

Released – October, 1946

Directed By – Alfred E. Green

Produced By – Columbia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Columbia Pictures Corporation

Description – An enjoyable, if somewhat fictionalized, musical biography of Al Jolson.

Burlesque entertainer Steve Martin offers to play a song for the audience only if they will sing along. Martin plays the song, but only one voice is heard singing. That voice belongs to young Asa Yoelson.

But, Asa is not where he is supposed to be. Right now, Asa should be doing his singing along with his father at the synagogue. A harsh reprimand from his strict father awaits.

Martin is so impressed by the young mans voice that he visits Asa’s home and explains how he heard their son sing at the burlesque house and wants Asa to become part of the show. This offer allows Asa’s father to find out where he was when he should have been at the synagogue and he firmly refuses.

However, Asa’s dream of a career in show business won’t go without a fight. He decides to run away and heads for Baltimore. Found alone in the city, he is taken to a boys home run by Father McGee who notifies Asa’s parents and Steve Martin that the boy is at the home.

When his family arrives, young Asa tells them that he will continue to run away until they allow him the chance for a career in show business. While it is still against their wishes, they would rather have Asa try for success in show business then to keep running away.

It isn’t long before Asa becomes bored with singing the same songs the same way show after show. As puberty approaches, Asa’s voice begins to change causing some problems. He is now disillusioned and wants to return home.

Steve Martin reassures Asa that this problem will not last long and offers to have the boy work with him on stage. This not only changes Asa’s mind, but also gives him the idea to change his entertainment name to Al Jolson.

One evening, the show’s blackface entertainer, Tom Baron, is too drunk to do his act and Asa dons the blackface and takes his place. In the audience are theatrical entrepreneurs Oscar Hammerstein and Lew Dockstader. It is Dockstader who recognizes Asa and hires him to join their minstrel show.

While walking before a show, Asa hears a new sounding music that immediately captures his interest. Jazz. He continues to listen forgetting about that evenings show and is fired by Dockstader.

When one door closes, another opens.

Returning home to his parents, Al is contacted by Tom Baron who is now a theater manager. Baron offers Al a job on Broadway. Al accepts providing he can choose his own material, which will include Jolson’s signature tune “Mammy.”

Al’s instant popularity quickly elevates him to the star of the show and the production goes on tour. While on tour, Al meets dancer Julie Benson and, for Al, it is love at first sight. So much so that, after knowing Julie for only a few hours, Al proposes. Even though she doesn’t love him yet, she accepts.

They marry during filming of The Jazz Singer. Shortly after, Julie lets Al know that she is not interested in a life on the road and wants to settle down. Feeling that he wants Julie more than show business, Al quits and it looks like the door has closed again.

NOTABLE: The Jolson Story won Oscar’s for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound, Recording. The picture was also nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Larry Parks), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (William Demarest), Best Cinematography, Color, and Best Film Editing.

The Jolson Story was the highest grossing film of 1946 and the first blockbuster for Columbia Pictures in its 20-year history.

Actor Larry Parks voice was dubbed by the real Al Jolson, who was so determined to get into a scene in the picture that he convinced producer Sidney Skolsky to allow him to appear in the blackfaced “Swanee” number.

Al Jolson’s third wife (of four) Ruby Keeler refused to allow her name to be used in the film. Her character was Julie Benson.

None other than James Cagney turned down the role of Jolson that was played by Larry Parks.


The Harvey Girls

Monday, November 14th, 2011

The Harvey Girls

Tagline – It’s Blazing, Blistering Romance… in the wide open spaces!

Starring – Judy Garland (Susan Bradley), John Hodiak (Ned Trent), Ray Bolger (Chris Maule), Angela Lansbury (Em), Preston Foster (Judge Sam Purvis).

Released – January, 1946

Directed By – George Sidney

Produced By –  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – There’s a chain of Harvey House restaurant’s opening and one of them will be at the remote whistle stop of Sandrock. The new restaurant hopes to provide good food and good company to those who travel by train.

And what does any good restaurant need? Waitresses! Not just any waitresses, these waitresses will be called the “Harvey Girls.” A group of new “Harvey Girls” are riding the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railroad on their way to Sandrock.

On the trip, the girls meet Susan Bradley who is also on her way to Sandrock to meet and marry a man whose beautiful letters captured her heart after she answered a “lonely hearts” ad. However, what exists in Susan’s imagination and what she finds in Sandrock are quite far apart.

The gentleman in question turns out to be an old coot who has no aspirations to get married and seeing as Susan has no interest in marrying him, they call it off.

It seems the wonderful letters were written as a joke by local saloon owner Ned Trent. Susan confronts Ned, tells him off, and then storms away. Is Ned insulted? Not hardly, in fact he is now just a little smitten with Susan.

With no where else to turn, Susan decides to become a “Harvey Girl.” The new restaurant’s competition is Ned Trent’s saloon and it won’t be easy overcoming the easy liquor and fast women that the saloon offers. Not only that, but local Judge Sam Purvis is Ned’s business partner, and one of the dance hall girls, Em, is in love with Ned.

All’s fair in love, war, and the restaurant business as a campaign of intimidation begins in an attempt to shut down the Harvey House.

NOTABLE: The Harvey Girls won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song (On the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe), and was also nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Judy Garland was so loved by the public that her rival in this film, played by Angela Lansbury, had to endure being booed in public.

The Harvey House restaurant’s really did exist, having been established in 1870. There were 84 restaurants covering seven states with all serviced by the Santa Fe Railroad.

Personal problems led Judy Garland to miss 11 days of shooting and to arrive on the set late another 40 times.

Lucille Ball, Ann Southern, and Eve Arden were considered for the role of Em which went to Angela Lansbury.

The Harvey Girls provided the very first speaking role for Cyd Charisse.




State Fair

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

State Fair

Tagline – For the young in heart! And romantic oldsters, too!

Starring – Jeanne Crain (Margy Frake), Dana Andrews (Pat Gilbert), Dick Haymes (Wayne Frake), Vivian Blaine (Emily Edwards), Charles Winninger (Abel Frake), Fay Bainter (Melissa Frake).

Released – August, 1945

Directed By – Walter Lang

Produced By –  Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Description – It is the time of the year for the much loved Iowa State Fair. Each member of the Frake family has their own special reason for wanting to go to this years fair and they can’t wait.

Mother Melissa hopes to beat out a rival with her mincemeat entry and just might add a little brandy to help, Father Abel has high hopes for his prize boar “Blue Boy” in the best hog contest, son Wayne keeps practicing his ring-toss in the hope of getting revenge on the game barker who cheated him last year, and as for Margy, well, she is restless and looking for some excitement.

There are a couple of problems though, as Wayne’s girlfriend can’t attend the fair with him and neither can Margy’s boyfriend who has proposed marriage only to be put off on getting an answer until Margy returns from the fair.

This year’s State Fair will turn out to be anything but boring for each family member as both adventure and romance will enter into their lives.

Margy meets newspaperman Pat Gilbert who just may turn out to be her Mr. Right, while brother Wayne is smitten with singer Emily Edwards who has a big secret.

Will this be the best fair ever for the Frake’s, or will the new romance’s end with the closing of the State Fair? And what about Margy’s hometown boyfriend’s marriage proposal, and Wayne’s childhood sweetheart? Even Blue Boy seems to have found love at the fair.

NOTABLE: State Fair won an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song (It Might As Well Be Spring), and was also nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.

State Fair is a remake of a 1933 film, by the same name, and includes all the original music of Rogers and Hammerstein.

Actress Jeanne Crain’s singing voice was dubbed by singer Louanne Hogan. Dana Andrews voice was also dubbed even though he was a trained opera singer. The studio was unaware of his training and he never mentioned it, believing that the singer dubbing him needed the work.

In 1996, State Fair would move on to the stage where it ran for 110 performances.


Wonder Man

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Wonder Man (1945)

Tagline – It’s Gala-Gala with Girls, Gaiety, and that Goldwyn Glamour!

Starring – Danny Kaye (Edwin Dingle/Buzzy Bellew), Virginia Mayo (Ellen Shanley), Vera-Ellen (Madge Mallon), Donald Woods (Monte Rosen).

Released – June, 1945

Directed By – H. Bruce Humberstone

Produced By – The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – Edwin Dingle and Buzzy Bellew are identical twins with totally different personalities. Buzzy is a boisterous nightclub entertainer while Edwin is a studious bookworm writing a history book. The brothers are estranged and have not seen one another in years.

Buzzy has the unfortunate experience of being a witness to a murder committed by gangster “Ten Grand” Jackson. Shortly after, Buzzy is killed by two of Jackson’s thugs and his body is dumped in the lake at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY.

However, this is not the end of Buzzy. His ghost returns and calls on his long-lost brother Edwin to help bring his killers to justice. In order to do this Edwin assumes his brother’s identity and must fill in for Buzzy at the nightclub while dodging Jackson’s hitmen who can’t believe their eyes when seeing him.

And if that’s not enough, Edwin, posing as Buzzy, has inherited a double love life. Buzzy was engaged to entertainer Midge Mallon while Edwin was sweet on librarian Ellen Shanley. The ghost of Buzzy, in order to help with the charade, possesses the body of Edwin with some outrageously funny results.

NOTABLE: Wonder Man won the Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects, and was also nominated for Best Music, Original Song (So In Love), Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound, Recording.

This was popular musical actress Vera-Ellen’s first film.