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:
Boy! What a Girl! (1947) – Musical #426
Arthur H. Leonard
Tim Moore, Elwood Smith, Duke Williams, Alan Jackson, Sheila Guyse, Betti Mays, Sybil Lewis, Warren Patterson
Themselves: Slam Stewart Trio, Deek Watson and the Brown Dots, Big Sid Catlett, Ann Cornell, Gene Krupa, Harlemaniacs
Jim Walton (Smith) and Harry Diggs (Williams) are trying to get a show on Broadway but lack the financial backing. Jim hopes that his girlfriend’s rich father, Mr. Cummings (Jackson), will help fund the show. Mr. Cummings will only help fund the show if wealthy French impresario Mme. Deborah Martin pays for half of the show. In her absence, female impersonator Bumpsie (Moore) poses as Mme. Deborah, but the issue is when the real Mme. Deborah (Lewis) arrives.
• First film of Alan Jackson, who was only in two films.
• Only full-length film and last film of Betti Mays
• First film of Sheila Guyse
• International Jitterbugs were billed as Harlemaniacs
• Only one of two films of Warren Patterson
• First film of Elwood Smith. Smith was in two films.
• When the landlord comes in asking for the rent and says, “Who did you expect, Van Johnson?”
• Jazz music
• Warren Patterson tap dancing
• Gene Krupa randomly appearing at the part and playing the drums.
• “Oh Me, Oh My, Oh Gosh” performed by Slam Stewart Trio
• “Crazy Riffin'” performed by Betti Mays
• “I Just Refuse To Sing The Blues” performed by Ann Cornell
• “Just In Case You Change Your Mind” performed by Deek Watson and the Brown Dots
While some race films perpetuate stereotypes, “Boy! What a Girl!” is a bit better than many. “Race films” were released from 1915 to 1950 and produced outside of major Hollywood studios for segregated audiences.
The premise is about two men trying to get their show on Broadway and a bevy of musicians and performers try to catch a break in show business.
Several of the characters are shown with more dignity than other characters in race films. The characters are all sophisticated. We see one unidentified female pianist perform Clair de Lune. Sybil Lewis plays Madame Deborah, a wealthy and sophisticated woman visiting from France who may back the musical show.
The two main leading ladies are daughters of a wealthy would-be backer of the show. The girls are played by Sheila Guyse and Betti Mays, who I wish were in more film roles.
The only slightly questionable role is played by Tim Moore, vaudeville player and known later for his role as Kingfish on the Amos n’ Andy TV show. Moore plays a male character who also is a female impersonator. Moore is dressed like a female the whole film.
The film as a whole is a comedy but sprinkled with fabulous jazz music. These songs helped exhibit bands like Slam Stewart Trio and Deek Watson & the Brown Dots.
Famed drummer Gene Krupa even has a walk-on cameo where he plays the drums at a party.
“Boy! What a Girl!” is humorous and has excellent music, and worth seeing for the excellent jazz music.
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