Musical Monday: Springtime in the Rockies (1942)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Springtime in the Rockies (1942) – Musical #163

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Irving Cummings

Starring:
Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, John Payne, Cesar Romero, Charlotte Greenwood, Edward Everett Horton, Iron Eyes Cody (uncredited), Jackie Gleason (uncredited), Russell Hicks (uncredited), Trudy Marshall (uncredited)
Himself: Harry James and His Music Makers, Six Hits and a Miss, Bando da Lua, Helen Forrest

Plot:
Vicky Lane (Grable) and Dan Christy (Payne) are a Broadway performing duo and also an item. But Vicky gets tired of Dan’s philandering and takes an offer performing at a resort in Lake Louise, located in the Canadian Rockies with her old dance partner Victor Prince (Romero). Dan follows Vicky to the Rockies to try to win her back, and because his career is sunk without her. Along the way he picks up a valet (Horton) and secretary (Miranda), who Vicky thinks he’s in love with.

Trivia:
• Remake of Second Honeymoon (1937), which starred Loretta Young and Tyrone Power.
• Jackie Gleason has a small role as a commissioner.
• Betty Grable and Harry James, who are both seen in this movie, were married the following year in 1943.
• Dances choreographed by Hermes Pan.
• Betty Grable was disappointed that she didn’t get to sing “I Had the Craziest Dream,” as it was assigned to Helen Forrest, according to the book “The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs.”
• The story was reprised for the Lux Radio Theater in 1944 with Betty Grable, Dick Powell and Carmen Miranda
• The Mack Gordon and Harry Warren songs “Magazines” and “I Like to Be Loved By You” were not included in the final film.
• The film was originally considered to be shot on location at Lake Louise in Canada, but it was shot in Hollywood instead.
• 1946 legal records show that the film was considered for another remake, Autumn in Acapulco, but it was never made.

Charlotte Greenwood, Betty Grable and John Payne in “Springtime in the Rockies”

Highlights:
• Technicolor cinematography
• Cesar Romero and Betty Grable dancing together
• Charlotte Greenwood dancing to “I Had the Craziest Dream” with her long legs.

Notable Songs:
• “Run, Little Raindrop, Run” performed by Betty Grable and John Payne
• “I Had the Craziest Dream” performed by Helen Forrest and Harry James and His Music Makers
• “Chattanooga Choo Choo” performed by Carmen Miranda
• “Two O’Clock Jump” performed by Harry James and His Music Makers
• “Pan American Jubilee” performed by Betty Grable, John Payne, Carmen Miranda, Edward Everett Horton, Charlotte Greenwood, Harry James and His Orchestra and chorus
• “A Poem Set to Music” performed by Harry James and His Orchestra, danced by Betty Grable and Cesar Romero
• “Sleepy Lagoon” performed by Harry James and His Music Makers

My review:
“A sparkling diversion,” is what The Hollywood Reporter called “Springtime in the Rockies” when it was released in Nov. 1942.

And isn’t that what we need right now?

“Springtime in the Rockies” is visually glittering and beautiful; with gorgeous Technicolor cinematography by Ernest Palmer, beautiful costumes by Earl Luick, and dances staged by Hermes Pan.

The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther said the film is “Pretty as a lollipop and just as common, “Springtime in the Rockies” is a smooth job with faded material.”

And for once, I may agree with him. The story isn’t anything new, but it’s so fun. Much of the charm is found in the cast, which is brimming the talent:

Betty Grable and John Payne are the on-again-off-again couple who are impossibly beautiful. Carmen Miranda is also glittering and hilarious. Cesar Romero is smooth and funny. But Edward Everett Horton with his “oh my” demeanor and Charlotte Greenwood with her high kicks and splits take the cake with humor. We also see Jackie Gleason in an early, uncredited role. And then the cherry on top is Harry James and his singer Helen Forrest providing excellent big band numbers throughout.

Grable and Romero have some beautiful and smooth ballroom dance numbers together. But the best number may be Charlotte Greenwood in a solo number of her own.

Romero is a smooth dancer, but poor John Payne looked like he was just getting by. I love Payne but I wondered what he was doing in the first part of “Pan American Jubilee.” I was thinking to myself, “Smile, John! Stop looking like you are concentrating!”

I will say, seeing people enjoying themselves at a Lake Louise resort where Harry James is performing seems awfully dreamy and a little difficult as we are stuck in our homes.

But even still, you will leave this movie with some laugh and smile lines, so it may be worth it.

Betty Grable, John Wayne, Carmen Miranda, Cesar Romero and Charlotte Greenwood in “Springtime in the Rockies”

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