Musical Monday: “Sally” (1929)

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.

sally posterThis week’s musical:
“Sally” –Musical #308

Studio:
First National Pictures

Director:
John Francis Dillon

Starring:
Marilyn Miller, Joe E. Brown, Alexander Gray, T. Roy Barnes, Pert Kelton, Ford Sterling,

Plot:
Based on the Broadway play made famous by Marilyn Miller, Sally Green (Miller) is a waitress with dreams of becoming a dancer. A rich fellow named Blair Fellow (Gray) visits Sally at work frequently. Though they are smitten, he is also in a marriage of convenience. One day, Sally drops a tray on a customer and the same day a talent agent offers her a job dancing. One of her dancing jobs is to impersonate a royal Russian dancer at a party given by Blair’s parents. Blair knows it is Sally all along, but when his parents learn she is a fake, they ask her to leave. Sally then becomes a dancer on Broadway.

Trivia:
-The film stars actress Marilyn Miller, who made the play popular on Broadway. The play was produced by Florenz Ziegfeld and ran from 1920 until 1922.
-The full film was originally in 2-color Technicolor. Now, only the “Wild Rose” musical number remains.
-Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction by Jack Okey in 1930.
-The first of three films Marilyn Miller made.

Highlights:
-The last remaining color footage during the “Wild Rose” number

The last remaining color scene during the "Sally."

The last remaining color scene during the “Sally.”

Notable Songs:
-Look for the Silver Lining performed by Alexander Gray
-All I Want to Do Do Do Is Dance performed by Marilyn Miller
-Sally performed by the Ensemble
-If I’m Dreaming (Don’t Wake Me Too Soon) performed by Marilyn Miller and Alexander Gray

My Review:
Marilyn Miller was one of Broadway’s biggest stars of the 1910s and 1920s. However– as noted before by TCM prime time host Robert Osborne– Miller’s onstage magic does not come across on screen.
She is pretty and interesting to watch, but really just nothing special.
Though she is known for her dancing, most of Miller’s steps seem haphazard, uncoordinated with her partners and are far from graceful. Even her ballet number looks a bit amateurish.
However, all of this seems pretty characteristic of musicals made shortly after the dawn of sound in Hollywood. As noted previously in a post about “Tanned Legs” (1929), these early musicals have messy dance numbers, thrown together plots and odd, unflattering dance moves.
Honorable mention goes to Joe E. Brown, who is the most memorable part of this film.
I have no doubt that “Sally” was more enchanting of a story on the stage.

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