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:
“Wabash Avenue” (1950)– Musical #522
20th Century Fox
Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Reginald Gardner, Phil Harris, James Barton, Barry Kelley, Margaret Hamilton
In 1892, Ruby Summers (Grable) is the queen of burlesque with her rousing songs, outlandish costumes and shaking of hips. The owner of her dance hall, Mike Stanley (Harris) has cheated Andy Clark (Mature) out of his half ofthe business, and Andy is set to get even. Andy works to ruin Mike’s business and make Ruby into a lady while also making her fall for him.
-Remake of Betty Grable film, “Coney island” (1943), which co-starred George Montgomery and Cesar Romero.
-Josef Myrow and Mack Gordon were nominated for Best Music, Original Song for the song “Wilhelmina”
-“I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” performed by Betty Grable
-“May I Tempt You With a Big Red Rosey Apple” performed by Betty Grable
-“Honey Man” performed by Betty Grable
-“Baby Won’t You Say You Love Me” performed by Betty Grable
-“Wilhelmina” performed by Betty Grable
It was rumored that all screenwriters did was take 1943’s “Coney Island,” which also starred Betty Grable, and put a new title page on it to create “Wabash Avenue.”
While I don’t actually think this is the case, “Wabash Avenue” is very similar and nearly is a scene-by-scene remake. I’m not sure why 20th Century Fox decided to remake the same film with the same lead actress, but it’s almost a little off putting.
However, in any film with Betty Grable, it’s difficult not to be drawn to her energetic delivery of a song and dance and “Wabash Avenue” is no exception. In this film, Grable’s Technicolor costumes and songs are fantastic and entertaining.
I of course still enjoyed this film, because I also liked “Coney Island,” but of the two, I prefer “Coney Island” due to the superior male co-stars of Cesar Romero and George Montgomery.
It’s hard to believe that Betty Grable would have anything romantic with Phil Harris-also if you have knowledge of Grable’s friendship with his wife Alice Faye. Though Victor Mature is believable for a grifting cad.
However, “Wabash Avenue” still offers Technicolor fun, regardless of its puzzling similarities to “Coney Island.”