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:
The Bamboo Blonde (1946) – Musical #236
Frances Langford, Ralph Edwards, Russell Wade, Jane Greer, Tommy Noonan, Jean Brooks, Iris Adrian, Paul Harvey, Regina Wallace, Richard Martin
Lt. Patrick Ransome, Jr. (Wade) meets nightclub singer Louise Anderson (Langford) at a club that is out of bounds for military personnel. The two dance and dine before Lt. Ransome has to ship out, but he forgets to ask her name. The crew ends up painting her portrait on the side of their B29 and name her “The Bamboo Blonde,” which brings them luck in battle. Their success and the painting brings publicity to the crew, Louise and the nightclub.
-Based on the story by “Chicago Lulu” by Wayne Whittaker
-“Dreaming Out Loud” performed by Frances Langford
-“Moonlight over the Islands” performed by Frances Langford
-“Right Along about Evening” performed by Frances Langford
Films don’t need a large budget to be fun.
“Bamboo Budget” is the textbook B-musical. Our leading lady, Frances Langford, was a famous singer, but hardly a movie star. Recently returned from her World War II tours with Bob Hope, Frances Langford sings in her lovely deep voice and looks beautiful.
And as for her leading men, they were not well known in 1946. Langford’s leading man and film love interest, played by Russell Wade, started in Hollywood in 1933 but the majority of his roles were in shorts or uncredited bit parts. Bamboo Blonde was his fourth to last film. Ralph Edwards plays Langford’s manager. He later became well-known for hosting “This is Your Life,” but only was in a handful of films.
In a supporting role, we have Jane Greer who’s career catapulted a year later with “Out of the Past.” But at the time of “Bamboo Blonde,” she still wasn’t well known.
Anyhow, regardless if you aren’t familiar with the majority of the cast, this low-budget musical is a happy escape.
It has a simple plot: a soldier and a girl meet briefly, say goodbye, but the rest of his platoon believes she is his girlfriend (though he’s already engaged). The soldier’s outfit decides to paint her portrait on their plane and they become successful in battle, making the young woman their good luck charm.
Like I described in Eve Knew Her Apples, the musical aspects of the film are performances in a nightclub acts, not spontaneous dancing in the street.
I think part of the charm of this movie is that its low budget. The sets and costumes are simple and appear a little more attainable than the expensive, over the top sets and wardrobes.
The most interesting aspect of the film? It’s directed by Anthony Mann, yes the Anthony Mann who you know from film noirs and westerns. Early in his career, he accepted most directing jobs that came his way, including musicals.
“Mann’s contribution (to the film) is an appropriate bouncy, upbeat rhythm, and a directness to the storytelling process. He knows what the movie is about: all of Langford’s numbers are choreographed to show her to her deepest advantage,” according to the book Anthony Mann by Jeanine Basinger.
Don’t let the low price tag on this film fool you. A film doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun, and “The Bamboo Blonde” is a joy.