Musical Monday: Four Jacks and a Jill (1942)

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.

173625-four-jacks-and-a-jill-0-230-0-345-cropThis week’s musical:
“Four Jacks and a Jill” (1942) – Musical #197

Studio:
RKO

Director:
Jack Hively

Starring:
Ray Bolger, Anne Shirley, June Havoc, Dezi Arnez, Eddie Foy Jr, Jack Durant, Fritz Feld, Henry Daniell, Marie Windsor (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited)

Plot:
Homeless Karanina “Nina” Novak (Shirley) is taken in by Nifty Sullivan (Bolger) and his four band-mates. Nina helps the band secure a job at a cafe with her singing and saying she is friends with a king she met in England. Taxi driver Steve Satro (Arnez) appears pretending to be the king, because they look similar, and breaks into the romance that’s forming between Nina and Nifty.

Ann Shirley and Dezi Arnez in "Four Jacks and a Jill."

Ann Shirley and Dezi Arnez in “Four Jacks and a Jill.”

Trivia:
-Anne Shirley’s singing was dubbed by Martha Mears.
-Remake of “Street Girl” (1929) and That Girl from Paris (1936).

Notable Songs:
-“I’m in Good Shape” performed by Ray Bolger
-“Karanina” performed by Anne Shirley, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“Boogie Woogie Conga” performed by the chorus
-“I Haven’t a Thing to Wear” performed by June Havoc
-“Wherever You Go” performed by Anne Shirley, dubbed by Martha Mears

Ray Bolger listening to a symphony and stealing the tunes to adapt as swing music.

Ray Bolger listening to a symphony and stealing the tunes to adapt as swing music.

My review:
The title “Four Jacks and a Jill” sounds fun and promising. But unfortunately, the film doesn’t live up to the title, and all I can say is I’m glad this is only a little over an hour.
The main high point in the film are some interesting tap dance numbers by Ray Bolger and the jaunty tune “Boogie Woogie Conga,” but those two things alone can’t save this movie.
While I love Anne Shirley, especially in her 1930s films, “Four Jacks and a Jill” is simply annoying and thankfully brief.

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2 thoughts on “Musical Monday: Four Jacks and a Jill (1942)

  1. Thank you for the warning. I’m curious about this movie, however , because Desi Arnaz is in it. Have you reviewed A Damsel in Distress ? I just saw this funny, light-hearted and very entertaining musical with Fred Astaire and George and Gracie Allen. Good entertainment! I would think a classic. I enjoy your blog.

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