Musical Monday: Children of Pleasure (1930)

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:
Children of Pleasure (1930) – Musical #588

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Harry Beaumont

Starring:
Lawrence Gray, Wynne Gibson, Helen Johnson, Kenneth Thomson (as Kenneth Thompson), May Boley, Benny Rubin, Cliff Edwards (uncredited), Jack Benny (uncredited), Mary Carlisle (uncredited), Ann Dvorak (uncredited), Polly Ann Young (uncredited)

Plot:
Danny Regan (Gray) is a songwriter and meets society heiress Pat Thayer (Johnson). The two plan to marry until Danny figures out that Pat is marrying him as a replaceable novelty.

Trivia:
-Originally featured a Technicolor sequence that is now lost
-Adapted from a play called The Songwriter, which was based on the romance and marriage of songwriter Irving Berlin and Long Island socialite Ellin Mackay. However, Berlin and Mackay were married from 1926 to 1988.

Notable Songs:
-“Dust” performed by May Boley and the ensemble
-“The Better Things in Life” performed by Lawrence Gray
-“Leave It That Way” performed by Lawrence Gray

May Boley performing “Dust”

My review:
When you’re a classic film fan, it’s always surprising when you come across actors that you have never heard of. But it is not unusual when watching an early sound film.

With the dawn of sound, it gave audiences the opportunity to see actors of the stage that aren’t as familiar today got an opportunity on the big screen. For example, Broadway star Marilyn Miller was in three films, or popular vaudeville comedian Joe Cook was in a hand full of films, including Frank Capra’s “Rain or Shine.”

Other times, the lead actors played supporting roles and didn’t go on to reach a high level of stardom. That’s the case of “Children of Pleasure” (1930)

Lawrence Gray, who plays the lead, acted in 45 films between 1925 and 1936 and generally played supporting roles. He is pleasant enough until the end of the film (when I find him annoying).

Helen Johnson, who plays the heiress, looks like a mix of Anita Paige and Ann Harding. She acted in several minor roles in the early-1930s. At one point she changed her name to Judith Wood and her biggest film appears to be Dinner at Eight (1933). Wynne Gibson, who plays Gray’s secretary in love with him, also acted in films mainly in the 1930.

Other than some of the uncredited actors, like Jack Benny and Cliff Edwards, and Benny Rubin, I had never heard of any of the lead actors prior to watching this film.

For whatever reason, not knowing the actors other films made me feel disengaged with this movie.

Plot wise, the story is nothing unusual and fairly entertaining. It would have been neat to see the Technicolor musical number, which is now lost. Gray plays the piano and sings a few songs, but the biggest dance number is “Dust.”

As I have written before, some of the early sound musicals are difficult to watch, but this one was fine. The only thing I personally struggled with was not being familiar with the cast.

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