It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
“Navy Blues –Musical #512
Ann Sheridan, Martha Raye, Jack Oakie, Jack Haley, Herbert Anderson, Jack Carson, Jackie Gleason, John Ridgley, Georgia Carroll (uncredited), Leslie Brooks (uncredited), William Hopper (uncredited), Gig Young (uncredited)
Cake and Powerhouse (Oakie, Haley) are two Navy seamen on leave in Hawaii and are trying to borrow money to pay their way for fun. They meet prize gunner Homer Matthews (Anderson), who is being transferred to their ship. Their meeting with Matthews sparks an idea to earn more money. They want to enter Homer into the gunner competition to win the trophy for their trip and start taking bets on his abilities with the rest of their shipmates. The only problem is Homer will only be on their ship for a few days before he is discharged from the Navy, leaving before the gunnery competition. Cake and Powerhouse now work to keep Homer from leaving the Navy, but Homer is eager to return to his pig farm in Iowa. They enlist the help of night club performers Marge (Sheridan) and Lilibelle (Martha.)
-The first musical comedy to come from Warner Brothers in four years, according to a January 1941 column by Louella Parsons.
-Eddie Albert was orignally slated for the film, according to the January 1941 Parsons article.
-Intro: “Honolulu where Aloha means goodbye and Shore Leave means trouble.”
-Jackie Gleason’s film debut.
-Georgia Carroll performing as a chorus girl
-Ann Sheridan singing
-Herbert Anderson calling pigs
-“Navy Blues” performed by Ann Sheridan and Martha Raye
-“In Waikiki” performed by Ann Sheridan and chorus
-“You’re a Natural”performed by Herb Anderson and Ann Sheridan
The New York Times review, published on Sept. 21, 1941, hit the nail on the head in their review saying, “Oakie and Haley working harder for laughs than a bum vaudeville team in Omaha” and that the script is full of corn.
When I watched this movie looking for an Ann Sheridan vehicle. Sheridan was in a few musicals and I love to hear her deep singing voice. However, if you are looking for a film with a lot of Ann time, don’t look to “Navy Blues.”
The film opens with Sheridan singing “Navy Blues,” looking beautiful in an adorable sailor style costume…but the film goes downhill from there.
The film is centered around the crazy, frantic antics of Jack Haley and Jack Oakie as they do con their friends and will do anything to earn a buck. Our leading ladies Ann Sheridan and Martha Raye have very little screen time in this hour and 48 minute movie.
The antics revolve around getting Herb Anderson’s character to stay in the Navy. One of the biggest highlights of this film for me was seeing Anderson (or Dennis the Menace’s dad, as my family frequently calls him) in a larger role. Before his TV dad fame, Anderson was a film character actor. His character actor roles were usually smaller than other character actors such as James Gleason or William Frawley.
We even have the opportunity to hear Anderson sing. He’s just always someone I enjoy seeing on screen. His demeanor and turtle-like look makes me smile.
It was also a great surprise to see lovely Georgia Carroll appear in this film, singing as one of the Navy Blues Sextette Members. Carroll was the singer for band leader Kay Kyser’s band and the two later married. I believe I even shouted “That’s Georgia Carroll!” when she appeared on screen.
“Navy Blues” isn’t the worst musical I have ever seen, it’s simply that Oakie and Haley’s corn got tiresome when all I wanted was to see more Ann Sheridan.