Thursday, September 30, 2010

Video: Cyd Charisse and Dee Turnell

Cyd Charisse and Dee Turnel perform in this wonderful dance number. Dee Turnell is the blonde. Cyd Charisse is the brunette.

I would love to see this film, Words and Music (1948). Which is loosely based on the lives of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart. Cast: Mickey Rooney, Tom Drake, Janet Leigh, Betty Garrett, and Ann Sothern and is best remembered for the final screen pairing between Rooney and Judy Garland.

ON TCM : Billy Crystal interview on musicals.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You can enjoy both Week-End In Havana (1941) with Alice Faye and Springtime in The Rockies (1942) with Betty Grable

Two of my favorite musicals that are pretty similar in style and music. The main exception is the leading lady. Alice Faye headlines Week-End In Havana while my girl Betty Grable tops Springtime in The Rockies. Both films feature several of the same actors, including John Payne, Carmen Miranda and Cesar Romero.

In Week-End In Havana, a cruise ship bound for Cuba crashes off the Florida coast, ship executive Jay Williams (John Payne) asks each passenger to sign a waiver that clears the liner of all responsibility. But when New York City shop girl Nan Spencer (Alice Faye) says no, it sets off a chain reaction of romance and rejection. Cesar Romero and Carmen Miranda co-star in this 1941 musical featuring the songs "Romance and Rhumba" and "Tropical Magic." Faye is quite good in her role as Nan, as she will not yield to Payne's continued pursuit. Romero and Miranda are also quite good. Should be noted that Faye was pregnant while filming this movie. What a trooper.

In Springtime In The Rockies, Broadway partners Vicky Lane and Dan Christy have a tiff over Christy's womanizing. Jealous Vicky takes up with her old flame and former dance partner, Victor Price, and Dan's career takes a nosedive. In hopes of rekindling their romance and getting Vicky back on the boards with him, Dan follows her to a ritzy resort in the Canadian Rockies, where she and Victor are about to open their new act. But things get complicated when Dan wakes after a bender to find that he's hired an outlandish Latin secretary, Rosita Murphy, which makes Vicky think he's just up to his old tricks again. Betty is definitely the star as she gets to shine in several musical numbers. But Carmen Miranda is a riot as Rosita Murphy. You will be busting a gut everytime she appears onscreen. And actress Charlotte Greenwood adds a touch of grace. Springtime was a huge hit for studio 20th Century Fox as it was a top ten money earner in 1942 and solidfying Betty Grable as a major box office attraction. I love both films equally and I don't know if I could choose between them. So instead of making that decision, I just say watch them both and have a great time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Count Basie

Count Basie was an American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer. Basie led his jazz orchestra for nearly 50 years. Many well known musicians performed under his direction, including tenor saxophonists Lester Young and Herschel Evans, trumpeters Buck Clayton and Harry "Sweets" Edison and singers Jimmy Rushing and Joe Williams. Basie's theme songs were "One O'Clock Jump" and "April In Paris".

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Romance On The High Seas(1948)

Romance on the High Seas (1948). Is a musical/romantic comedy. Cast: Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Don DeFore, and Doris Day in her film debut.

Michael and Elvira Kent, make plans to go on a cruise for their third anniversary. While at the travel agency, Elvira meets Georgia Garrett, a singer who enjoys planning trips that she can never afford to take. When Mike cancels the trip for business reasons, Elvira suspects that he is really canceled because of his beautiful new secretary. Elvira's uncle and the owner of the pharmaceutical company where Mike works, suggests that Elvira make the trip to Rio alone.

Elvira, then makes plans with her uncle that she will pretend to leave town, sending Georgia in her place, and that way she can stay home and keep an eye on Mike.

After Elvira and Georgia, are ready to go ahead with their plans, Mike says that he can go on the cruise after all. When Elvira slow to say "yes", Mike thinks that something up and hires private detective Peter Virgil,  to follow her.

The first night out, Peter and Georgia, meet and spend a lot of time together. Peter reports to Mike that "Elvira" is traveling alone. Elvira discovers nothing about Mike. Georgia's plans are almost ruined when her boyfriend, unexpectedly arrives on the ship. Georgia pretends to be sick, and stays in her room. Oscar finds her room and visits her cabin. Peter watches them through a window and thinks that he has finally caught Elvira in the act. Peter, still thinking that Georgia is Elvira, tells Mike that he has fallen in love with his wife. Mike quickly flies to Rio, and the uncle says he thinks Elvira should do the same. Will the couples ever reunite?

Romance on the High Seas, is my favorite Doris Day movie. A couple highlights of the film, for me, is when Georgia, posing as Mrs. Kent, and Peter are seated and Georgia begins to sing "It's Magic." It is just beautiful! And the cutest bar scene I think I have seen on film.. if that does not put a smile on your face.. I do not know what will ;)


featuring "It's Magic" and other songs by Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn.

Doris Day and Jack Carson who met while making this film, had a brief romance.


"Put 'em in a Box, Tie 'em with a Ribbon (and Throw 'em in the Deep Blue Sea)"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Doris Day and the Page Cavanaugh Trio

"It's Magic"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Doris Day

"It's You or No One"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Doris Day

"I'm in Love"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Doris Day

"The Tourist Trade"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Avon Long

"Run, Run, Run"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Jack Carson

"Bridal Chorus"
from "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner
Played during the wedding

"She's a Latin from Manhattan"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung briefly by Doris Day in the travel agency

"Romance on the High Seas"
aka "In Trinidad"
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by the Samba Kings

"Brazilian Rhapsody"
aka "Cuban Rhapsody"
Music by Jule Styne, Ray Heindorf and Oscar Levant
Performed by Oscar Levant

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mamie Van Doren.

Hughes gave Van Doren a bit part in the film, Jet Pilot. Her line consisted of one word, "Look!". In 1951, she posed for famous pin-up girl artist Alberto Vargas, the painter of the glamorous "Vargas Girls." His painting of Van Doren was on the July cover of Esquire.

Van Doren did a few more bit parts in movies at RKO, including, His Kind of Woman (1951) starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and Vincent Price.

She was a showgirl in New York in Monte Proser's nightclub version of Billion Dollar Baby. Songwriter Jimmy McHugh discovered her for his musicals, then decided she was too good for the chorus line and should have dramatic training. While performing in the role of Marie in the film, Come Back, Little Sheba, Van Doren was seen by Phil Benjamin, a casting director at Universal International.

On January 20, 1953, Van Doren signed a contract with Universal Studios. The studio was hoping she would bring the same kind of success that 20th Century Fox had with Marilyn Monroe. Van Doren, whose signing day happened to be the same day as the inauguration of President Eisenhower, was given the first name Mamie for Ike's wife, Mamie Eisenhower.

Van Doren's first movie for Universal was, Forbidden (1953), playing a singer. She then made All-American (1953), In Yankee Pasha (1954) starring Jeff Chandler and Rhonda Fleming, in 1956 she played opposite Clint Eastwood in the film, Star in the Dust.

She also performed in some of the first movies to feature Rock & Roll music. In the film, Untamed Youth (1957), she was the first woman to sing rock and roll in a Hollywood musical (Eddie Cochran did the music for the film). This film was later featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000's "Untamed Youth" (1990).

Some of Van Doren's best known films are: Teacher's Pet (1958),

Born Reckless (1958), High School Confidential (1958), and The Beat Generation (1959). But Van Doren was just as well known for her provocative roles: Girls Town (1959), which provoked censors with a shower scene, The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960) she wore only fig leaves, and in other films, like The Beautiful Legs of Sabrina (1959), Sex Kittens Go to College (1960) and Vice Raid (1960).

Many of Van Doren's film roles showcased her figure and her wardrobe usually consisted of tight sweaters, low-cut blouses, form-fitting dresses, and daring (for the era) swimsuits. Van Doren did become a very famous Hollywood sex symbol. Marilyn, Mamie and Jayne Mansfield were known as the "Three M's." But by comparison, where Monroe succeeded in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Mansfield in, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. Universal cast Van Doren, with Francis the Talking Mule, in Francis Joins the WACS. She does have a websight. It is a little to racy for me to post here on, Singin and Dancing back in Time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Mickey Rooney (1920 - present)

The super talented actor/dancer/comedian and all around entertainer turns 90 today. Mickey who recently starred with Ben Stiller in A Night at the Museum is one of my favorite actors. He could do anything: sing, dance, do comedy or drama. A very talented man. And I didn't realize he was married 8 times. But he has been with his current wife, Jan since 1978. My favorite Rooney films are The Andy Hardy films, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; Girl Crazy, Babes On Broadway, National Velvet, and Boys Town. He was at his musical best when paired with Judy Garland for all those "let's put on a show" type musicals of the early 40's.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Betty Grable

Betty Grable's, bathing suit photo made her the number-one pin-up girl of the World War II era. It was included in the LIFE magazine project "100 Photos that Changed the World". Grable was particularly noted for having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood and studio publicity widely dispersed photos featuring them. Hosiery specialists of the era often noted the ideal proportions of her legs as: thigh (18.5") calf (12"), and ankle (7.5"). Grable's legs were famously insured by her studio for $1,000,000 with Lloyds of London.

Video: Doris Day in the 40s.

Doris Day with the Les Brown Orchestra singing Come To Baby Do.
With pictures of Doris from the 1940's.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bathing Beauty(1944)

Bathing Beauty (1944). Musical. Cast: Red Skelton, Basil Rathbone and Esther Williams, Harry James and his Music Makers, Ethel Smith, Helen Forrest and Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra. Director: George Sidney. This was not William's screen debut, but it was her first musical. The film was initially to be titled "Mr. Co-Ed" with Red Skelton having top billing. However, once MGM executives watched the first cut of the film, they realized that Esther Williams' role should be showcased and changed the title to "Bathing Beauty". The film is Janis Paige's film debut.

As famous songwriter Steve Elliott and swimming instructor Caroline Brooks plan to marry. Steve decides to quit his songwriting career, even though producer George Adams has already hired him to write new songs for a water ballet show. When George overhears Steve discussing his "retirement" with Caroline, he plans to prevent the marriage and hires Maria Dorango, to pose as a Latin American singer, to help him. At the wedding, Maria rushes in, claiming that Steve is her husband and the father of her three redheaded children. Even though Steve says he is innocence, Caroline returns to Victoria College in New Jersey, alone. Steve follows her, but is denied entrance to the all-female school. Later, in a nightclub, Steve meets lawyer Chester Klazenfrantz and learns that Klazenfrantz has been hired to change the charter of Victoria College, which has never officially become an all-female College. Steve returns to Victoria and insists on applying for admission. Unaware that Caroline is married to Steve, Dean Clinton suggests to the faculty that he be admitted for a two-week probationary period, during which time they would give him 100 demerits and expel him before Parents Day. Steve tries to speak with Caroline, but she refuses to listen to him and tells him she is seeking an annulment. Highlights of the film include: music from both Harry James and his Music Makers and Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, Skelton in a pink tutu dancing to Tchaikovsky and a spectacular water finale.

Will Steve win back his estranged swimming-teacher wife?

FUN FACT : At the time of its release, this was MGM's third-highest grossing film, after Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) and Gone with the Wind (1939).

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when, Caroline realizes that Steve is hiding in her closet, spying on her, she has a Great Dane guard the closet door. Steve manages to trick the dog long enough to escape.



"Magic is the Moonlight (Te quiero juste)"
Music by María Grever
English lyrics by Charles Pasquale
Played during the opening credits
Sung by Carlos Ramírez in Spanish with Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra
Whistled by Red Skelton
Played often in the score

"I'll Take the High Note"
(1943) (uncredited)
Music by Johnny Green
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Played during the opening credits
Sung and danced by Red Skelton, Jean Porter, Janis Paige, Carlos Ramírez,
Helen Forrest, Harry James and Buddy Moreno with Harry James and His Music Makers and Ethel Smith on organ

"Bim, Bam, Bum"
Music and Lyrics by Johnnie Camacho, Noro Morales and Harold Adamson
Sung by Lina Romay with Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra

"Trumpet Blues and Cantabile"
Music by Harry James and Jack Matthias
Instrumental played by Harry James and His Music Makers with Harry James on trumpet

"By the Waters of Minnetonka: an Indian Love Song"
Music by Thurlow Lieurance
Lyrics by J.M. Cavanass
Played by Ethel Smith on organ with the MGM Studio Orchestra

"Tico-tico no fubá"
(1917) (uncredited)
Music by Zequinha De Abreu
Enlish lyrics by Ervin Drake (1943)
Played by Ethel Smith on organ with the MGM Studio Orchestra

"Loch Lomond"
Traditional Scottish folk song
Sung by the Co-eds with Ethel Smith on organ

"Alma llanera"
(1914) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez
Sung by Lina Romay and chorus with Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra

"Waltz of the Flowers"
(1891-2) (uncredited)
from "The Nutcracker Suite, Op.71a"
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Danced at the Eurythmics session by the Co-eds and Red Skelton

"Hora Staccato"
(1906) (uncredited)
Music by Grigoras Dinicu and Jascha Heifetz
Played by Harry James on trumpet with Harry James and His Music Makers

"I Cried for You"
(1923) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Arthur Freed, Gus Arnheim and Abe Lyman
Sung by Helen Forrest with Harry James and His Music Makers

"Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)"
(1850) (uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Written by Richard Wagner
Whistled and hummed by Red Skelton

"Boogie Woogie"
Music by Carlos Ramírez and Harry James
Played by Harry James and His Music Makers before and during the water ballet sequence

"The Thrill of a New Romance"
(1939) (uncredited)
Music by Xavier Cugat
Instrumental played by Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra at the start of and during the water ballet sequence

"Die Fledermaus Overture"
(1874) (uncredited)
Written by Johann Strauß
Played in the score for Caroline's participation in the water ballet sequence

"Mucho Mucho Mucho"
(Te quiero dijiste / Tu m'as Dit Je t'aime)
Music by Carlos Ramirez
Lyrics by Lull Micaelli
Sung by Luis Mariano

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eleanor Powell & Fred Astaire in Broadway Melody of 1940

Here's my redo of my lost post on Broadway Melody of 1940. I must start off by saying that Eleanor Powell is one of my favorite dancers. She is awesome and her dancing ability was phenomenal. If I had to list my favorite female dancers of all time, I think Powell would edge just ahead of Ginger Rogers. Powell made three Broadway films: 1936 with Jack Benny and Robert Taylor and 1938 with Taylor again. But for Broadway Melody of 1940, she got to dance with Fred Astaire for the first and only time. And they made movie magic.

The story has Fred as Johnny Brett and George Murphy as King Shaw, an unsuccessful dance team in New York, looking for their big break. Well, a producer for Broadway star Clare Bennett is looking for a new partner for Clare and sees the boys in action one night. And is immediately impressed with Johnny's dance skills. But through a misunderstanding..Johnny thinks the guy is a bill collector and gives him the name of his partner King, who thens gets the call to become Clare's new partner. And while King is a capable enough dancer, he is no Johnny. Clare becomes more interested in Johnny when she sees him during rehearsal one day and the two hit it off. Which off course creates tension between her, Johnny and King.

But during one night of their Broadway show, King comes in drunk and can't perform. Johnny fills in and does a magnificent job. By the end of the movie, the dance team has become a very successful trio. The dance scenes are electric and the promise of seeing Powell and Astaire together on film doesn't disappoint. Their legendary Begin the Beguine number has to be seen to be believed. It's amazing. Their dance routine was flawless. It's a shame that they didn't make more films together. But at least we have Broadway Melody of 1940 to watch over and over. Powell makes her moves seem so effortless that it is a pure joy to watch. Of course Fred is top notch as usual and this is one of his best dance pairings outside of Ginger. Their dance on the glass mirror floor is truly innovative and unbelievable.

Here are some notable facts about the film:

Planned to be shot in Technicolor, but made in black and white.

It had been reported that Fred Astaire was intimidated by Eleanor Powell because she was one of the few female tap dancers capable of out-performing him.

Follows The Broadway Melody (1929), Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) and Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). Another film in the series was planned, "Broadway Melody of 1943" starring Eleanor Powell and Gene Kelly. However, that project was abandoned, and a dance number filmed by Eleanor Powell was edited into Thousands Cheer (1943).

Here is the Begin the Beguine clip from Broadway Melody of 1940:

Pin Up Girl(1944)

Pin Up Girl(1944), Technicolor musical film. Director: H. Bruce Humberstone. Cast: Betty Grable, John Harvey, Martha Raye, and Joe E. Brown. The film used Grable's iconic pin-up status during World War II, even using her famous swimsuit photo in some scenes of the film.

Lorry Jones, is a hostess at the U.S.O canteen in Missoula, Missouri. She entertains the troops by working as a singer. Part of her job is to accept marriage proposals from the men. Lorry accepts Marine George Davis, proposal. He does not realize that is part of the act. Lorry and her best friend Kay Pritchett, want to better themselfs so they have taken jobs as stenographers in Washington, D.C.

When they arrive by train, they are greeted by Navy hero Tommy Dooley. That night, they try to get into the Club Chartreuse, but are not allowed without dates. Lorry doesn't want to leave and says that she is meeting Tommy and his friend Dud Miller.
She does not know Tommy is best friend with the club's owner. When Eddie is told Lorry and Kay are the dates of Tommy and Dud, he treats them like celebrities.. When Tommy and Dud arrive, Tommy thinks the clubs owner has set them up in blind dates. Kay tells them she and Lorry are in the Broadway musical Remember Me. Molly McKay, star singer at the club, doesn't believe Kay, until Lorry performs a song. The men accidentally lose the women's address. After a couple of weeks Lorry and Kay are insulted. Tommy and Dud out of the blue show up in Washington. Lorry's job is to be his stenographer, she decides to disguise herself, so he won't recognize her. Things don't go the way she planned. What happens next?

Grable's sense of comedy and some expert dancing - with Hermes Pan makes this a fun film. Good support from Raye and Joe E Brown.


"You're My Little Pin Up Girl"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by chorus, uncredited players, and Betty Grable
Danced by the Condos Brothers

"Time Alone Will Tell"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by June Hutton and male trio with Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra

"Red Robins, Bobwhites and Bluebirds"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Martha Raye
Danced by Skating Vanities

"Don't Carry Tales out of School"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Betty Grable and chorus with Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra

"Yankee Doodle Hayride"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Martha Raye with Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra
Danced by the Condos Brothers

"Once Too Often"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by Betty Grable
Danced by Betty Grable, Hermes Pan and Angela Blue with Charlie Spivak and His Orchestra

"The Story of the Very Merry Widow"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Betty Grable with chorus

"The Caisson Song"
Music by Edmund L. Gruber
Played briefly during the opening credits

"Anchors Aweigh"
Music by Charles A. Zimmerman
Played briefly during the opening credits

"The Marine Hymn"
Music by Jacques Offenbach from "Geneviève de Brabant"
Played briefly during the opening credits

"You'll Never Know"
Music by Harry Warren
Played on the trumpet after the "Yankee Doodle Hayride" number

"The Army Air Corps Song"
Music by Robert Crawford
Played briefly during the opening credits

"Minnie's in the Money"
Music by Harry Warren
Played when the protest proclamation is read to Lorry

"Goin' to the County Fair"
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Eddie Hall stops by Lorry and Kay's table

Friday, September 17, 2010

Song of the Islands(1942).

Song of the Islands (1942). Musical/ comedy. Cast: Betty Grable and Victor Mature. Director: Walter Lang.

The movie begins as Jeff Harper sails to the tropical paradise Ahmi-Oni with his long time friend Rusty. He is there to buy land. Jeff quickly falls in love with O'Brien's daughter Eileen, who has come home to teach school on the island where her father lives. Jeff's father decides to travel to the island and try to break them up. Will he succeed?

Betty Grable had performed in many major movie hits. After the success of Song of the Islands, Fox realized they had a gold mine on their hands and kept Grable working in glamorus musicals.

You can view this movie on youtube.


"Song of the Islands (Na Lei O Hawaii)"
(1915) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Charles E. King
Played during the opening credits

"Down on Ami Ami Oni Oni Isle"
Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Owens
Played during the opening credits
Played and sung by the natives
Sung by Betty Grable
Danced to by Betty Grable and the natives
Reprised by the native girls
Played as background music often

"Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)"
(1936) (uncredited)
Original music and lyrics from "Kaua i ka Huahua'i (We Two in the Spray)" by Prince Leleiohaku (1860)
Modified music by Johnny Noble (1929)
Modified lyrics by Ralph Freed (1936)
Played and sung by Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians and danced to by the natives in the opening scene on the island

"Sing Me a Song of the Islands"
Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Owens
Sung by Betty Grable approaching the island, the cast at the end
Played as background music often

"Home on the Range"
(1904) (uncredited)
Music by Daniel E. Kelly (1904)
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley (1873)
Special lyrics by Mack Gordon, Harry Owens and Sol Hoopii Jr. (1942)
Played on guitar and sung by Jack Oakie
Reprised by Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians with special lyrics
Played as background music often

"Maluna Malolo Mawaena (Hawaiian Drinking Song)"
Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Owens
Performed by Betty Grable and Hilo Hattie, Thomas Mitchell, George Barbier and Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians

"What's Buzzin' Cousin?"
Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Owens
Sung by Jack Oakie

"Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai"
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by R. Alex Anderson
Lyrics by R. Alex Anderson and Albert Stillman
Sung and danced to by Hilo Hattie

"O'Brien Has Gone Hawaiian"
Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Owens
Sung and danced to by Betty Grable and native girls

"The Lily of Killarney"
(1862) (uncredited)
Music by Michael William Balfe
Sung and Danced to by Betty Grable and native girls

"Cannibal Chant"
Music and Lyrics by Satini Puailoa
Performed by Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians

"Blue Shadows and White Gardenias"
Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Owens
Played as background music

"Hu'I Mai"
Music and Lyrics by Sol Hoopii Jr.
Performed by Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coney Island (1943).

Coney Island (1943). Musical. Cast: Betty Grable in one of her biggest hits. A "gay nineties". George Montgomery, Cesar Romero, and Phil Silvers. Director: Walter Lang. Betty Grable also starred in the 1950 remake of Coney Island, named Wabash Avenue. In 1944, the year after the film was released, it was nominated for an Oscar for Alfred Newman in the category of Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.

Katie Farley, is working as a saloon entertainer in turn-of-the-century New York. Eddie Johnson, believes that Katie is destined to be a star, comes up with a plan to turn the song-and-dance girl into a refined entertainer, even handcuffing her wrists and ankles so she would be forced to rely on her voice. Soon, Katie becomes a Broadway star, with the help of Willie Hammerstein and she and Eddie grow apart. After a brief romance with saloon owner Joe Rocco, Katie returns to the man she truly loves, Frankie. One of the musical numbers of Coney Island is Betty's version of the "Cuddle Up a Little Closer". The film was remade, again with Grable, as Wabash Avenue (1950).

This cute little film is a wonderful musical experience. One of my favorite performers, Betty Grable is not always given her due. I feel her dancing in this film is perfect. Grable's personality combined with her talent create a special magic. Grable gets good support from George Montgomery, Cesar Romero, and Phil Silvers.


"Take It from There"
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin

"Beautiful Coney Island"
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin

"Miss Lulu from Louisville"
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin

"Get the Money"
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin

"There's Danger in a Dance"
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin

"Old Demon Rum"
Music by Ralph Rainger
Lyrics by Leo Robin

"Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey (I Never Knew Any Girl Like You)"
Music by Albert von Tilzer
Lyrics by Junie McCree

"Cuddle Up a Little Closer"
Words by Otto A. Harbach (as O.A. Hauerbach)
Music by Karl Hoschna (as Karl L. Hoschna)

"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"
Music by Ernest Ball
Lyrics by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff Jr.

"Pretty Baby"
Music by Egbert Van Alstyne and Tony Jackson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn

"The Darktown Strutters' Ball"
Written by Shelton Brooks

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dancers: The Nicholas Brothers.

The Nicholas Brothers were an amazing dancing team, Fayard (1914–2006) and Harold Nicholas (1921–2000). With their acrobatic technique ("flash dancing"), they were considered by many as the greatest tap dancers of their era. Growing up around Vaudeville acts as children, they became stars of the jazz circuit during the heyday of the Harlem Renaissance and went on to have successful careers performing on stage, film, and television well into the 1990s. Nicholas Brothers dance routine from the film, Stormy Weather.

List of Films:

Botta e Riposta; 1951, Italian.(Louis Armstrong, Nicholas Brothers, Jack Teagarden, Earl Hines)

The Pirate; 1948, MGM. (Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, Nicholas Brothers)

Dixieland Jamboree; 1946, Vitaphone short subject. (Cab Calloway, Adelaide Hall, Nicholas Brothers)

*Carolina Blues; 1944, Columbia. (Ann Miller, Kay Kyser, Victor Moore, Harold Nicholas, Four Step Brothers.)

*The Reckless Age; 1944, Universal. (Gloria Jean, Henry Stephenson, Harold Nicholas, Delta Rhythm Boys.)

Take It or Leave It; 1944, Twentieth Century Fox. (Phil Baker, Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Nicholas Brothers.)

Stormy Weather; 1943

Orchestra Wives; 1942, Twentieth Century Fox. (George Montgomery, Glenn Miller, Jackie Gleason, Cesar Romero, Nicholas Brothers.)

Sun Valley Serenade; 1941, Twentieth Century Fox. Sonja Henie, John Payne, Glenn Miller, Milton Berle, Nicholas Brothers, Dorothy Dandridge, Nicholas Brothers.)

The Great American Broadcast; 1941, Twentieth Century Fox. Alice Faye, John Payne, Jack Oakie, Nicholas Brothers, Ink Spots.)

Tin Pan Alley; 1940, Twentieth Century Fox. (Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda, Nicholas Brothers)

Down Argentine Way; 1940, Twentieth Century Fox. (Betty Grable, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda, Nicholas Brothers.)

Calling All Stars; 1937, British Lion. (Larry Adler, Ambrose & His Orchestra, Elisabeth Welch, Buck & Bubbles, Nicholas Brothers.)

My American Wife; 1936 MGM. (Francis Lederer, Ann Sothern, Billie Burke, Nicholas Brothers.)

The Black Network; 1936, Vitaphone short subject. (Nina Mae McKinney, Nicholas Brothers, Amanda Randolph.)

Coronado; 1936, MGM. (Eddie Cuchin & His Orchestra, Jack Haley, Andy Devine, Leon Errol, Nicholas Brothers.)

The Big Broadcast of 1936; 1935, Paramount. (Bing Crosby, Burns & Allen, Cab Calloway, Jackie Oakie, Nicholas Brothers, et al.)

The All-Colored Vaudeville Show; 1935, Vitaphone short subject. (Adelaide Hall, Nicholas Brothers.)

Kid Millions; 1934, Samuel Goldwyn. (Eddie Cantor, George Murphy, Ann Sothern, Ethel Merman, Nicholas Brothers.)

*Syncopancy; 1933, Max Fleisher / Paramount short subject. (Stoopnagie & Bud, Harold Nicholas)

*The Emperor Jones; 1933, United Artists. (Paul Roberson, Fredi Washington, Dudley Digges, Harold Nicholas.)

Pie, Pie Blackbird; 1932, Vitaphone short subject. (Eubie Blake & his band, Nina May McKinney, Nicholas Brothers.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Singer: Marion Hutton.

Marion Hutton,(older sister of actress Betty Hutton) ,was discovered by Glenn Miller and was invited to join the Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1938. Hutton was not allowed to sing in the nightclubs because she was underage. Glenn Miller and his wife Helen Burger Miller officially became her foster parents which allowed her perform in night clubs. She performed with Miller on and off until the orchestra disbanded in 1942.

Marion Hutton, had a small role in the film, Orchestra Wives(1942), in which the Glenn Miller Orchestra starred. After Glenn Miller joined the Army in 1942, she performed with Tex Beneke and the Modernaires.The next important performance was in a film role, In Society, with Abbott and Costello in the mid-1940s. Marion Hutton performed with the Desi Arnaz orchestra in October 1947 at the Radio City Theatre in Minneapolis. As the 1940s wound down, so did Marion's career. Her last film role was in 1949, acting in the Marx Brothers' Love Happy.

From the film: Lets Dance(1950).
"Can't Stop Talking About Him"
Words and Music by Frank Loesser
Performed by Betty Hutton and Fred Astaire.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Orchestra Wives (1942)

Orchestra Wives(1942). Cast: Ann Rutherford and George Montgomery, Lynn Bari, Carole Landis, Cesar Romero, Virginia Gilmore, Mary Beth Hughes and The Nicholas Brothers. The film was the second and last film to feature The Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Connie Ward marries Bill Abbott, a trumpet player in Gene Morrison's swing band. She soon finds herself having trouble with the other band member's wives. She is also worried by the flirtation between Abbott and Jaynie, the band's female vocalist. When Ward decides to walk out on Abbott, the tensions among the musicians and their wives, come to a head and band leader Morrison, is forced to break up the orchestra. Ward and the band's pianist Sinjin then work together to reunite the band, which also produces a reconciliation between Ward and Abbot.

This wonderful movie seems to be almost unknown, yet it should be on the top of the list of every Glenn Miller fan.

Orchestra Wives features many wonderful songs by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, who were also responsible for the songs featured in Miller's first film, Sun Valley Serenade (1941). The main production number is "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo".

An analogue of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", from the first film that features a vocals and sax by Tex
Beneke, backup singing by the Modernaires, and the dance sequence by the Nicholas Brothers.

Other songs include: "People Like You and Me", "Bugle Call Rag"..

and the romantic ballads "At Last"..

"Serenade in Blue"...

The film score uses "At Last" as a musical motif that is played throughout the movie.

Glenn Miller's theme song "Moonlight Serenade" from 1939 also appears over the opening credits.

"Boom Shot", an instrumental composed by Glenn Miller and Billy May for the movie, also is played in the movie, first on the jukebox in the soda shop, then when Ann Rutherford and Harry Morgan are shown dancing.

Three future stars have uncredited appearances: Jackie Gleason plays the band's bass player, Ben Beck, and in the soda fountain scene, Harry Morgan is the soda-jerk Cully Anderson, who also dates Connie Ward (Ann Rutherford).

Dale Evans plays Ann Rutherford's friend Hazel. Pat Friday dubbed Lynn Bari's singing, as she had done in Sun Valley Serenade. George Montgomery's on-screen trumpet playing was performed on the soundtrack by Miller sideman Johnny Best.

Ann Rutherford began her film career in starring roles in Waterfront Lady for Mascot Pictures in 1935. Mascot merged with Republic Pictures, and Rutherford soon became a popular leading lady of Westerns with Gene Autry and John Wayne.

Afterward, she was placed under contract with MGM, where she performed in films: A Christmas Carol (1938) and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

She was loaned to Selznick International to perform as, Carreen O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

From 1937 until 1942, she played Polly Benedict in the Andy Hardy series.

She also performed in a series of mystery/comedies with Red Skelton, Whistling in the Dark (1941), Whistling in Dixie (1942), and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

In Washington Melodrama (1941). She left MGM to freelance in the early 1940's, starring in such films as Orchestra Wives (1942), Two O'Clock Courage (1945) and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Footlight Serenade(1942).

Footlight Serenade is a 1942 musical comedy film directed by Gregory Ratoff, starring Betty Grable, John Payne and Victor Mature.

Happy Birthday: Maurice Chevalier!

He was born in Paris to a house painter father and a mother of Belgian descent. He made his name as a star of musical comedy, performing as a singer and dancer at a very early age.

He worked in a number of jobs: A carpenter's apprentice, electrician, printer and doll painter. He began his show business carrer in 1901. He was singing, unpaid, at a café when someone from the theatre saw him and said he should try out for the local musical. Chevalier made a name as a mimic and a singer. His act in l'Alcazar in Marseille was so successful, he went on to perform in Paris.

In 1909, he became the partner of the biggest female star in France, Fréhel. In 1911, Chevalier then began a relationship with 36-year-old Mistinguett at the Folies Bergère where he was her 18 year old dance partner.

Chevalier's signature songs were, "Louise", "Mimi", "Valentine", and "Thank Heaven for Little Girls". His trademark was a boater hat, which he always wore on stage with his tuxedo.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It Started with Eve(1941).

It Started with Eve(1941). Was remade in 1964 as I'd Rather Be Rich. Cast: Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton, Robert Cummings and Guy Kibbee.

As Johnny, Jr. returns from Mexico City, the New York Daily Star, writes up the story for the front page, that his father, "Jonathan Reynolds Dies".

Upon arriving home, Dr. Harvey informs Johnny that his father is dying and his last wish is to meet Johnny's fiancee, Gloria Pennington. Johnny goes to Gloria's hotel and is told that both Gloria and her mother have gone out. Johnny decides to ask hat check girl Anne Terry to pretend to be Gloria. The next day, Jonathan wakes up recovered, and demands to see Anne.

Dr. Harvey tells Johnny any shock could be fatal to his father, so Johnny continues with the deception. Johnny goes looking for Anne and finds her at the the train station, where she is getting ready to take a train back to Shelbyville, Ohio, giving up on her operatic career.

Back at home, Johnny is surprised to see the real Gloria and her mother and tries to explain the situation to Gloria. Anne learns that Jonathan has ties to the opera and convinces him to have a party, at which she plans to sing. How will Johnny tell his father the truth about the real Gloria?

This maybe the only Durbin' movie that I remember seeing. I find it interesting that such a fun movie is not better known. I posted the film, It Started with Eve, first video of 10 to help get you started. Enjoy.

Durbin signed a contract with MGM in 1935 and made her first film performance in, Every Sunday (1936), with Judy Garland.

Deanna Durbin, was soon signed to a contract with Universal Studios and made her first film, Three Smart Girls (1936). In 1938 she received a special Academy Juvenile Award, along with Mickey Rooney. Because of Durbin's international fame diarist Anne Frank posted her picture to her bedroom wall where the Frank family hid during World War II.

In 1936, Durbin auditioned for the vocals for Snow White in Disney's animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but was rejected by Walt Disney, who thought 15 year old Durbin's voice "too old" for the part.

Later, as Durbin became unhappy with the girl-next-door roles, she wanted to portray a more sophisticated style, with the film noirs, Christmas Holiday (1944) and Lady on a Train (1945). Unfortunately,were not as well received as her musical comedies and romances.

Durbin retired from acting and singing in 1949. She married film producer-director Charles Henri David in 1950, and the couple moved to a farmhouse in Paris.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Fleet's In (1942)

The Fleet's In (1942). Directed by Victor Schertzinger. Cast: Dorothy Lamour and William Holden. Although sharing the title of the 1928 film starring Clara Bow and Jack Oakie, it was not a remake. It was the second film version of the 1933 Kenyon Nicholson–Charles Robinson stage play Sailor, Beware!. Songs by Schertzinger and lyricist Johnny Mercer. The score includes: "Tangerine", and "I Remember You".

Jimmy Dorsey and his band are featured in the movie. Supporting cast members: Eddie Bracken, singer Cass Daley, and Betty Hutton in her film debut.

After Diana Golden performs for the sailors, sailor Casey Kirby goes backstage to get her autograph for his sister. Casey is tricked into a publicity kiss with Golden and when his buddy, Barney Waters, shares the news with all their buddies back on the ship, everyone is impressed. Then Jake, bets Barney that Casey will not be able to kiss a dance hall singer, Barney bets his friend Spike's antique watch, and the betting begins. Spike threatens Barney with his life that he wins the bet.

When they dock in San Francisco, Barney takes Casey to the dance hall and has Casey sit next to the singer. The singer only takes interest in Casey when the manager tries to force a customer on her, and Casey ends up walking her home. The singer is charmed by Casey, and she invites him into the apartment she shares with another singer, Bessie Dale. Bessie returns the same night with Barney, and everything is going well until Barney mentions the bet . Bessie comes in just as Casey and singer are just about to kiss and tells the singer about the bet. Both Barney and Casey are thrown out of the apartment, but.. Casey soon realizes that he is in love with the singer and buys an engagement ring. How will he win her heart?

It really is a musical comedy due to the excellent character actors/actresses and it has a couple of great songs. William Holden is so good, you really think he is Casey Kirby. Dorothy Lamour is funny and has some good songs to sing. Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken are just as funny. I loved the story...

When DeSylva became a producer at Paramount Pictures, Betty Hutton was signed to perform in the film, The Fleet's In (1942) which starred Paramount's number one female star Dorothy Lamour. Hutton made an instant impact, but Paramount did not right away promote her to stardom. They gave her second leads in a film musical, Star Spangled Rhythm (1943), and another Lamour film before casting Hutton as the co-star of Bob Hope in Let's Face It (1943). Following the release of The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Hutton was now a major star, and with the film, Incendiary Blonde (1945), she was now Paramount's number one female box office attraction.

Hutton made 19 films from 1942 to 1952. The Perils of Pauline(1947). She was billed over Fred Astaire in the 1950 musical Let's Dance. Hutton's greatest screen performance was in the film, Annie Get Your Gun (1950), which hired her to replace Judy Garland in the role of Annie Oakley.

Among her many films was an unbilled cameo in Sailor Beware (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, in which she portrayed Dean's girlfriend, Hetty Button. Her time as a Hollywood star came to an end with the film, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and Somebody Loves Me (1952).

After which Hutton worked in radio, performed in Las Vegas and in nightclubs, then onto an musical TV spectacular written especially for Hutton called, Satin and Spurs (1954).

I posted the first of 8 videos of the film, The Fleets In, to help get you started. Enjoy :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week end in Havana(1941)

Week-End in Havana( 1941). Directed by Walter Lang. Cast: Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda. Faye was pregnant during filming.

Week-End in Havana, is about Nan Spencer (Alice Faye), a sales clerk in the lingerie department at Macy’s, is asked to sign a waver after the cruise ship she’s on has an accident and she knows why the accident occurred. Nan, decides to vacation in Havana. Williams tries to entertain her, but realizes that the man who tried to pick her up (Cesar Romero) at a nightclub might be a better choice. To make things more complicated, Monte (Romero) is involved with Rosita Rivas (Carmen Miranda) who becomes jealous. Jay Williams should be in New York getting married, but finds himself in Havana a bit longer than he planned.

Alice made five films with John Payne within four years: Tin Pan Alley (1940), Week-End in Havana and Great American Broadcast( 1941) and The Gang’s All Here and “Hello, Frisco, Hello” (1943).

Wonderful music makes it enjoyable to watch on a rainy day when you want to travel to beautiful Havana.

"A Week-End in Havana"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by Carmen Miranda in the opening number with chorus and band
Reprised by an offscreen chorus during the montage in Havana
Played as background music often

"Rebola a Bola (Embolada)"
Music by Aloysio De Oliveira and Nestor Amaral
Lyrics by Francisco Eugênio Brant Horta
Sung in Portuguese by Carmen Miranda in a nightclub.

"When I Love, I Love"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by Carmen Miranda at a nightclub

"Tropical Magic"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Spanish lyrics by Ernesto Piedra
Sung in Spanish by an unidentified trio in a nightclub
Reprised by Alice Faye
Reprised by Alice Faye and John Payne on a hay wagon
Reprised a cappella by Leonid Kinskey
Played as background music often

"Romance and Rhumba"
Music by James V. Monaco
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by Alice Faye and Cesar Romero while dancing, the other dancers

"The Man with the Lollypop Song"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by lollypop vendor Nacho Galindo outside Arbolado's

"The Ñango (Nyango)"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Sung by Carmen Miranda at the nightclub
Sung and danced to by the chorus
Danced to by Alice Faye and John Payne

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Springtime in the Rockies(1942)

Springtime in the Rockies (1942). Musical/ comedy. Cast: Betty Grable, John Payne, Carmen Miranda, Cesar Romero, Charlotte Greenwood, and Edward Everett Horton. Also in the cast was Grable's future husband Harry James, and his band. Director: Irving Cummings.

Dancer Vicky Lane waits for her partner, Dan Christy, but as usual, he is late. Vicky thinks that Dan is out buying her an engagement ring. But, he really is on a on a date with Marilyn Crothers. Fed up with Dan's womanizing, Vicky quits the show and returns to her former dancing partner, Victor Prince, who is still in love with her.

Three months pass, Dan cannot find a backer for his new show. His agent tells him that a couple of businessmen Bickel and Brown will back his show, only if he can get Vicky to return. Vicky and Victor are performing with Harry James and His Music Makers at a Lake Louise resort in the Canadian Rockies.

His agent tells Dan to romance Vicky so that she will come back, and not tell her about Bickel and Brown until she arrives in New York. He then asks bartender to get the drunken Dan on the next plane to Lake Louise. When Dan comes too, he finds himself at the Canadian resort and learns that he has hired McTavish as his valet and Rosita Murphy, as his secretary. He then confronts Vicky, who happily shows off her engagement ring given to her by Victor. Dan comes up with a plan to make Vicky jealous by romancing Rosita. His plan seems to be working until Rosita tells her the truth. One evening, Dan barges into Vicky's room and refuses to leave when she calls for Victor. Angered by Dan's presence, Victor accuses Vicky of cheating on him and she breaks off their engagement. Will Dan's plan to open his new show work out ?

A wonderful movie with Betty Grable, Harry James, John Payne and Carmen Miranda. If you love movies from the 40's or 50's you will love this movie. Betty Grable is in her best singing voice. Harry James, no one can compete with his great trumpet playing. Carmen Miranda, what more can you say about this talented South American singer. She steals all the scenes she is in. Not to forget Helen Forrest.. She was Harry James singer for a long time. She sang her signature song, "I Had The Craziest Dream". Too bad they don't make movies like this anymore.



"Run, Little Raindrop, Run"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Betty Grable and John Payne
Also performed by Harry James and His Music Makers

"I Had the Craziest Dream"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Played during the opening credits and often throughout the picture
Also Performed by Helen Forrest with Harry James and His Music Makers

"Chattanooga Choo Choo"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Portuguese lyrics by Aloysio De Oliveira
Performed in Portuguese by Carmen Miranda with Bando da Lua

"A Poem Set to Music"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Harry James and His Music Makers
Danced by Betty Grable and Cesar Romero

"O 'Tic-Tac' do Meu Coração"
Written by Alcyr Pires Vermelho and Walfrido Silva
Performed by Carmen Miranda with Bando da Lua

"Pan American Jubilee"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Portuguese lyrics by Aloysio De Oliveira
Performed by Betty Grable, John Payne, Carmen Miranda, Harry James and His Music Makers and chorus

"Serenade in Blue"
Music by Harry Warren
Played during the bar scene

"Two O'Clock Jump"
Written by Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Harry James
Performed by Harry James and His Music Makers

"You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want to Do It)"
Music by James V. Monaco
Performed by Harry James and His Music Makers

"I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)"
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Rosita is introduced

"Chica Chica Boom Chic"
Music by Harry Warren
Played by the band at the restaurant

"At Last"
Music by Harry Warren
Played by the band at the restaurant

"Sleepy Lagoon"
Music by Eric Coates
Heard during the hotel room scene with the roses
Played off screen by Harry James and His Music Makers

Music by A. Pestalozza

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pinocchio (1940)

Pinocchio(1940). Animated film produced by Walt Disney and based on the story, The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. The second film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, it was made after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The story is about a wooden puppet named Pinocchio (voice of Dickie Jones) being brought to life by a blue fairy (Evelyn Venable), who tells him he can become a real boy if he proves himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish". The puppet has many misadventures before he becomes a real boy.

The film was adapted by Aurelius Battaglia, William Cottrell, Otto Englander, Erdman Penner, Joseph Sabo, Ted Sears, and Webb Smith from Collodi's book. The production was supervised by Ben Sharpsteen and Hamilton Luske, and the film's sequences were directed by Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, and Bill Roberts. Pinocchio won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "When You Wish Upon a Star".

I thought this was a wonderful a fantasy-adventure story, with many moral messages. The colorful scenes are beautiful, one of my favorite scenes takes place in the beginning, in the old man's house with all the wonderful clocks and toys. Jiminy Cricket", is my favorite character in the film. I also loved the big whale of a finish. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Broadway Melody(1940)

Broadway Melody(1940). Cast: Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell and George Murphy.  Directed by Norman Taurog and features music by Cole Porter.

The film was the fourth and final film in MGM's "Broadway Melody" series, and is the only on-screen pairing of Astaire and Powell, who were thought to be the finest movie musical dancers of their time.

The story begins when,  Johnny Brett and King Shaw, work as a dance team in a dance hall. Because of a mistaken identity, Shaw gets offered the job to be Clare's dancing partner in a new Broadway show, when it was really Johnny's dancing that caught producer Bob Casey eye. The partnership breaks up, but Johnny stays to help out Shaw.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Happy Birthday: Mitzi Gaynor!

Mitzi Gaynor, trained as a ballerina and began her career as a chorus dancer. She sang, acted and danced in a number of film musicals,she performed with some of the biggest male musical stars like pan flautist, Mario Giamei.

Early roles included: There's No Business Like Show Business(1954), which featured Irving Berlin's music and also starred Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Marilyn Monroe, Donald O'Connor, and Johnnie Ray.

She also performed in: Les Girls (1957, directed by George Cukor) with Gene Kelly and Kay Kendall, and the remake of Anything Goes (1956), co-starring Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, and Zizi Jeanmaire.

Gaynor's biggest international fame came in the film, South Pacific. For her performance, she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best actress.

She made films with, Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra, David Niven, Dan Dailey, Betty Grable and Oscar Levant. She made her last film in the early 1960s. One of her last films was, Surprise Package (1960), a musical comedy thriller directed by Stanley Donen. Her co-stars were Yul Brynner and Noel Coward.

Following her film work, she sang at the Academy Awards ceremonies. At the 1967 Oscars, she sang the theme from the film Georgy Girl.  Gaynor performed between two sets by The Beatles when they made their second performance on the Ed Sullivan Show of February 16, 1964.

For several decades, Mitzi Gaynor was a top attraction in Las Vegas and at nightclub and concert venues throughout the United States and Canada. During the 1990s, Gaynor also became a  columnist for the  news magazine, The Hollywood Reporter.

On July 30, 2008, Mitzi, along with Kenny Ortega, Elizabeth Berkley, Shirley MacLaine and cast members from High School Musical, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and a host of others, participated in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences TV Moves Live, a celebration of 60 years of dance on television. Gaynor performed the final few bars of Poor Papa (with her original dancers Alton Ruff and Randy Doney), a song-and-dance number from her 1969 TV spectacular, Mitzi's 2nd Special.

Strike up the Band (1940)

Strike Up the Band(1940). Black and white musical film. Directed by Busby Berkeley and stars Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

Jimmy Connors and his girl-friend want to enter in Paul Whiteman's high school's band contest, but they do not have the money. Fortunately, they run into Paul Whiteman and convince him, that their band is good enough. He gives them the money, but... one of their friends becomes very ill.

A very famous, memorable quote from the film is "Take that boy on the street. Teach him to blow a horn and he'll never blow a safe.", spoken by Paul Whiteman.

I'm not really a fan of Mickey Rooney, but.. he was very much apart of the 40s, musicals.

"Drummer Boy"
Music by Roger Edens
Lyrics by Roger Edens and Arthur Freed
Performed at Barbara's party by Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney (on drums and vibraphone) and other band members
Reprised by the cast in the finale

Friday, September 3, 2010

Down Argentine Way (1940)

Down Argentine Way (1940) Musical. Cast: Betty Grable's first leading role, and introduced Carmen Miranda to America. Don Ameche, The Nicholas Brothers, Charlotte Greenwood and J. Carrol Naish. Director: Irving Cummings. Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck. Cinematography: Leon Shamroy and Ray Rennahan. Costumes: Travis Banton.

Wealthy Ricardo Quintano, travels from Argentina to New York to sell a few of his father's prize horses. Don Diego reminds his son not to sell any of his horses to any member of the Crawford family, because of a old family grudge. While in New york New York, Ricardo falls in love with Glenda Crawford, when he learns that she is a Crawford, he refuses to sell her a horse and returns back home to Argentina. They meet again in Argentina, and Ricardo introduces Glenda to his father as "Miss Cunningham." Glenda and Ricardo enter his father's prize jumper, in a race. When his father finds out the truth about the horse and Glenda's real name he disowns his son.

Will Don Diego change his mind about the horse and about Glenda?

What a wonderful movie. Look for some awesome song and dance numbers from Carmen Miranda. DOWN ARGENTINE WAY is kind of a fun movie, especially seeing it in this day and age.

FUN FACT: Alice Faye was going to play the role of Glenda, but she fell ill with appendicitis and was replaced by Betty Grable. Although Miss Grable was making films for the past 10 years, this was the role that made her famous. Cesar Romero came ill with para-typhoid and was replaced by Leonid Kinskey.


"Bambu Bambu"
Music traditional
Lyrics by Almirante and Valdo De Abreu
Performed by Carmen Miranda with Bando da Lua

"Down Argentina Way"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Spanish lyrics by Carlos Albert
Sung by Betty Grable and Don Ameche
Sung and danced by The Nicholas Brothers

"Mamãe Eu Quero"
Written by Jararaca and Vicente Paiva
Performed by Carmen Miranda with Bando da Lua

Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Spanish lyrics by Carlos Albert
Performed in Spanish by Bando da Lua
Sung by Leonid Kinskey at the nightclub

"Sing to Your Señorita"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Charlotte Greenwood

"Two Dreams Met"
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Spanish lyrics (Dos Sueños) by Carlos Albert
Performed by Six Hits and a Miss
Also performed by Bando da Lua
Sung by Betty Grable and Don Ameche

"South American Way"
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Portuguese lyrics by Aloysio De Oliveira
Sung by Carmen Miranda during the opening scene
Also sung by a chorus during the following montage
Played when the plane arrives in Argentina

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Irene (1940).

Irene (1940). Produced and directed by Herbert Wilcox. The screenplay by Alice Duer Miller is based on the book of the 1919 stage musical of the same name by James Montgomery, who had adapted it from his play Irene O'Dare. The score features songs with music by Harry Tierney and lyrics by Joseph McCarthy.

The film is a remake of a 1926 silent film version starring Colleen Moore.

Irene O'Dare, works as an upholsterer's assistant, where she meets wealthy Don Marshall while she is measuring chairs at the Herman Vincent estate. It is love at first sight for Don and he decides to help her career by anonymously buying Madame Lucy's, dress shop, giving her a job as a model. Don hires Mr. Smith as the manager of the shop, and soon Irene is selling dresses. Her success catches the eye of the wealthy Bob Vincent. To help promote the dress shop, Mr. Smith invites his models to a society ball held at the Vincent estate. At the ball, Irene is mistaken for Irish nobility, giving Mr. Smith an idea to help promote his collection. Mr. Smith rents her in a Park Avenue apartment and gives her diamonds and furs as she is dated by Bob.

Gossip columnist 'Biffy' Webster gets a tip about Irene from an jealous model, he prints an article about how her expensive apartment and clothes are being paid.

Angry, Irene confronts Madame Lucy where she learns that Don is the real owner of the shop. Feeling angry and betrayed, what will Irene decide to do?

I loved the art deco look. It did remind me of the Astaire/Rogers musicals, and just as charming. Although, for a musical, I wished it had more music. Still, as a comedy, "Irene" is very well done, a film worth watching.

Dame Anna Neagle, (20 October 1904 – 3 June 1986), born Florence Marjorie Robertson, was a popular English stage and motion picture actress and singer.

Neagle performed in British films for over 25 years. She was known for her glamorous and sophisticated, musicals, comedies and historical dramas. She won several awards as Britain's favourite actress. Almost all of her films were produced and directed by Herbert Wilcox, whom she married in 1943.

In her historical dramas, Neagle was renowned for her portrayals of real-life British heroines: Nell Gwynn (Nell Gwynn, 1934), Queen Victoria (Victoria the Great, 1937, and Sixty Glorious Years, 1938) and Edith Cavell (Nurse Edith Cavell, 1939).