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:
“Around the World” (1943)– Musical #353
RKO Radio Pictures
As themselves: Kay Kyser, Georgia Carroll, Harry Babbitt, Merwyn ‘Ish Kabibble’ Bogue, Joan Davis, Mischa Auer, Marcy McGuire, Wally Brown, Alan Carney, Barbara Hale (uncredited)
Actors: Robert Armstrong (uncredited)
Bandleader Kay Kyser (as himself) and his band go on a U.S.O. tour to entertain troops during World War II. Along the way, he and his team run into comedic mishaps. One of these includes Mischa Auer (as himself), who becomes interested in buying ancient relics,
-This film marked the end of Kay Kyser’s RKO film career
-Singer Georgia Carroll’s first credited role.
-Robert Armstrong plays an uncredited role as a general.
-Kay Kyser made a Hays office joke.
-“Roodle-ee-doo” performed by Kay Kyser and his band
-“Don’t Believe Everything You Dream” performed by Georgia Carroll and Harry Babbitt
-“Great News is in the Making” performed by Marcy McGuire
-“The Moke from Shamokin'” performed by Marcy McGuire
-“Candlelight and Wine” performed by Georgia Carroll and Harry Babbitt
North Carolina born bandleader Kay Kyser is known for his zany conducting and comedy that is mixed in with some of his songs. While his music may not always display that, you can see it in full force in Kyser’s films.
From 1939 to 1944, Kay Kyser made seven full-length films that featured Kyser and his band all playing themselves. They would be thrown into zany situations, like Kyser going to Hollywood or getting trapped in a haunted house. His mop topped musician Ish Kabibble (M.A. Bogue) is always there with jokes and his two lead singers Harry Babbitt and Georgia Carroll (Ginny Simms in other films) are there with a ballad.
The plots are usually minimal, the comedy is crazy, but I think they’re fun. “Around the World” is no exception. While Kyser and his band are performing on a U.S.O. tour, they get into a series of comedic mishaps. In this film, Mischa Auer and Joan Davis mainly get into trouble. There isn’t much of a plot, but the music is good and I didn’t find any of the humor irritating or tiresome (I followed this viewing up with a film starring Alan Carney and Wally Brown and that’s a good example of irritating and tiresome)
While the film includes lots of jokes, music and fun, it does take a serious turn at the end of the film. Peppy young star Marcy McGuire is called in to see the general (who is randomly played by 1930s star Robert Armstrong). The general tells her that her father was killed in action. This scene was added to show that World War II couldn’t be won without sacrifice.
The general talks to her about how important his role in the war was, but Marcy is bitter about her father’s death and wonder’s what the point was. She says never wants to sing again and says “my world has stopped and I’m stopping with it,” but she’s encouraged to sing a song of hope and patriotism for the soldiers.
The film doesn’t have any Kay Kyser tunes that I readily recognized (I listen to him on Pandora and have some CDs), but they are still great songs.
While this film doesn’t have any real substance, it also served the purpose of entertaining World War II troops and their families who were worrying back home.
I’m a fan of Kay Kyser so I thought this was a nice piece of 80 minute escapism. Maybe you will too.