Musical Monday: George White’s Scandals (1945)

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.

Jack Haley, Joan Davis, Gene Krupa in “George White Scandals”

This week’s musical:
George White Scandals (1945) – Musical #348

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Felix E. Feist

Starring:
Joan Davis, Jack Haley, Phillip Terry, Martha Holliday, Margaret Hamilton, Glenn Tryon, Jane Greer (billed as Bettejane Greer), Audrey Young, Rose Murphy, Fritz Feld, Beverly Wills, Tommy Noonan (uncredited), Dorothy Sebastian (uncredited)
Themselves: Gene Krupa, Ethel Smith

Plot:
The George White Scandals are being cast and rehearsals are beginning … and romances are budding. Joan Mason (Davis) was in the Scandals as a child star is now performing in them as an adult. She recently got engaged to her co-star Jack Evans (Haley), but his sister Clarabelle (Hamilton) hates Joan. Tom McGrath (Terry), who is leading the show, has no time for chorus girls, but Jill Martin (Holliday) works to set herself apart from the others to get noticed. Jill is secretly the daughter of a former Scandals star, who married nobility, and she doesn’t want the rest of the cast to find out.

Trivia:
-Joan Davis’s daughter, Beverly Wills, plays her mother in a flashback number of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.”
-Produced by George White. This was his third and last film based on his popular Broadway shows. The prior films were George White’s Scandals (1934) and George White’s 1935 Scandals (1935), both starring Alice Faye.
-Glenn Tryon portrays producer George White
-Jane Greer’s second film and she is in the film billed as Bettejane Greer

Joan Davis’s daughter, Beverly Wills, plays young Joan Davis.

Highlights:
– The credits are girls in evening clothes pulling curtains with the billing
– Hit Parade organist Ethel Smith

Notable Songs:
-“Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” performed by Beverly Wills (dubbed by Joan Davis)
-“I Wake Up in the Morning” performed by Jack Haley and Joan Davis
-“Bolero in the Jungle” performed by Gene Krupa

My review:
“George White Scandals” is equal parts comedy and musical. This would most likely be considered a “poverty row” musical, but it’s a good bit of fun.

“George White Scandals” is a backstage musical showing us the drama (and comedy) of the lives of the actors going on during rehearsals and in the wings of a Broadway musical.

Joan Davis isn’t a name that most people know today, but she was a kooky comedian who also sang and danced. Some of the gags are what would usually annoy me (a lobster in a restaurant getting caught on Joan’s coat) but most went quickly enough that they weren’t annoying.

A highlight of the film is the appearance of Joan Davis’s daughter, Beverly Wills, in a flashback of Davis’s character performing as a child. Wills looks just like her mother, who dubbs her during the song.

“George White’s Scandals” are also a bit of a reunion for Jack Haley and Margaret Hamilton. This was the only other film the two “Wizard of Oz” stars co-starred in. Haley is a weak leading man, but a good co-star for Joan Davis. Margaret Hamilton is another highlight of the film because her hatred for Joan is humorous. She plays Haley’s spinster sister who doesn’t want her brother to date Joan Davis and tries to threaten her.

It’s interesting because this film has secondary leads to give a more serious romantic pairing, outside of our comedic leads. Phillip Terry is a leader of the George White show in production and Martha Holliday is nobility trying to perform in the show and also get Terry’s attention. Holliday’s isn’t a very engaging star and it’s not surprising that she wasn’t in very many movies.

Another highlight is Jane Greer, billed as Bettejane Greer, in her second film role. She has the “other woman” bad girl role as the chorus girl who had her sights set on Phillip Terry and is angry when Holliday comes in and steals him away.

And of course we have some popular musical performers of the time: the Hit Parade’s organist Ethel Smith performs as does drummer and bandleader Gene Krupa.

“George White Scandals” isn’t a top rated musical but it’s fun with some humorous jokes and toe-tapping songs.

Jack Haley, Joan Davis and Gene Krupa in “George White Scandals”

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