Musical Monday: Sunny Side Up (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.

This week’s musical:
Sunny Side Up (1929) – Musical #396

Fox Film Corporation

David Butler

Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Marjorie White, Sharon Lynn, El Brendel, Frank Richardson, Jackie Cooper (uncredited)

Wealthy Jack Cromwell (Farrell) is fed up with his flirting fiance, Jane (Lynn). One night he drives to New York City and meets working girl Molly (Gaynor), who recognizes him from the society pages. Jack decides to take Molly back to Long Island to make Jane jealous. Jack sets up Molly in an apartment and she poses as a society woman. Molly is in love with Jack, but rumors start that Molly is Jack’s “kept woman.”

-Story and songs written by Buddy G. DeSylva
-The original film had a color sequence, which is now lost
-Fourth film pairing of Janey Gaynor and Charles Farrell, as well as their first sound film together and their first musical together.
-Child actor Jackie Cooper appears in an uncredited role

-Gag with a woman talking about birth control to a woman with at least six children
-A brief appearance by Jackie Cooper

Notable Songs:
-“You’ve Got Me Pickin’ Petals Off a Daisy” performed by Marjorie White and Frank Richardson
-“I’m a Dreamer Aren’t We All” performed by Janet Gaynor
-“Keep Your Sunnyside Up” performed by Janet Gaynor

My review:
As we have noted in previous posts, some musicals of the early struggled with blending music and plot. But “Sunny Side Up” (1929) manages to do a fairly good job of making the music and story make sense. This could be because the songs and story were both written by Buddy DeSylva.

“Sunny Side Up” was the fourth pairing of screen couple Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. It was also their first sound film, as well as their first musical. The story is sweet and cute, and it’s a unique opportunity to hear Farrell and Gaynor sing. While their singing voices aren’t amazing, they are passable.

There are some cute songs and we get the opportunity to see Jackie Cooper in an early, uncredited role. But our leads are better than the supporting cast. El Brendel is in the film, and he’s often quite tiresome. Gaynor’s pal, played by Marjorie White, is cute but when put with her on-screen boyfriend Frank Richardson singing fast talking jazz, it’s rather irritating.

It is unfortunate that the color sequence is missing. I also wish that the sound was better on the print I watched, which could be a result of restoration challenges. For musical lovers, it’s interesting to see how the genre grew and this is a good example.

Cast of “Sunny Side Up”

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