Musical Monday: Thrill of a Lifetime (1937)

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.

thrill of a lifetime2This week’s musical:
The Thrill of a Lifetime (1937) – Musical #673

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
George Archainbaud

Starring:
Leif Erickson, Judy Canova, Betty Grable, Buster Crabbe (as Larry Crabbe), Ben Blue, Johnny Downs, Eleanore Whitney, Franklin Pangborn, Anne Canova, Zeke Canova, the Yacht Club Boys (Charles Adler, George Kelly, Billy Mann, Jimmie Kern), Marjorie Reynolds (uncredited),
Themselves: Dorothy Lamour

Plot:
Betty Jane (Whitney) and Judy (Canova) have a sister act with Stanley (Downs). When Stanley and Betty Jane are offered a performing gig without Judy, they decide to go to Camp Romance to find Judy a husband. The camp is for singles looking for love and is run by Howard Nelson (Erickson), who doesn’t believe in love and has written a play called “There Ain’t Not Such Thing as Love.” While Howard doesn’t believe in love, his secretary Gwen (Grable) is in love with him.

Trivia:
• Dorothy Lamour has a cameo playing herself where she sings the title song. She said the film, however, is how she stated a lifelong friendship with Betty Grable, Lamour said in her autobiography.

Thrill of a Lifetime

Betty Grable and Buster Crabbe in “Thrill of a Lifetime”

Highlights:
• Dorothy Lamour appearance, who sings the title song.
• Dancing with both the girl and the look alike doll was unique.
• Sibling Judy, Anne and Zeke Canova singing together.

thrill of a lifetime5

Judy, Anne and Zeke Canova in “Thrill of a Lifetime”

Notable Songs:
• “Nobody’s Darlin’ But Mine” performed by Judy, Anne and Zeke Canova
• “Thrill of a Lifetime” performed by Dorothy Lamour
• “Sweetheart Time” performed by Betty Grable and Buster Crabbe
• “Blow the Whistle and Ring the Bell” performed by Judy, Anne and Zeke Canova

My review:
This Paramount musical goes a little all over the place and has some problems, but I still really enjoyed myself.

To be Olympic themed this week, I mainly watched this for Buster Crabbe, who was an Olympic swimmer prior to his acting career. He’s not the star of this film … but to be truthful, it’s a little hard to tell who is.
The film begins with a performing trio, played by Judy Canova, Johnny Downs and Eleanore Whitney, auditioning. I think — okay, we are following this group.

But the producer doesn’t want Judy and only wants the other two. So we go to Camp Romance to find Judy a husband so the other two can go on with their career without her.

The camp is run by Howard Nelson (Leif Erickson) with his workers who include Buster Crabbe and Betty Grable. (I THINK Erickson is our main character?)

The Yacht Club Boys are also in the film. If you’ve ever seen The Ritz Brothers, these are just the Paramount Pictures contract players of that equivalent. (AKA extremely annoying).

But aside from the Yacht Club Boys, there’s lots of fun to be had in this movie. At Camp Romance, there’s lots of fun outdoor activity, like horseback riding and scenes of Buster Crabbe diving.

Dorothy Lamour makes an appearance as herself singing the title song, and Betty Grable (still pre-stardom) gets to sing. Grable and Crabbe sing a fun duet for “Sweetheart Time,” and Crabbe doesn’t sing half bad! Leif Erickson supposedly does some singing, but I strongly suspect he was dubbed — though I haven’t found documentation of it yet.

But perhaps the highlight of the film is Judy Canova, especially when she sings country duets with her real-life brother and sister, Anne and Zeke Canova. This may be my first Judy Canova film!

If you want to check out this film, I’ll warn you it isn’t easy to find. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t been released on commercial DVD. I found this one on “the grey market” — a DVRed DVD that I purchased from someone on eBay. I wanted to see the musical where Buster Crabbe sang.

The picture quality was excellent, but the sound quality wasn’t. It’s a shame that we have to resort to these dubious methods to see some of these films.

The end of the movie is wrapped up in a silly, unique way. All the characters sing what happens to the different characters, rather than resolving on screen.

Overall, this film is all over the place, but also lots of fun. And did I mention Buster Crabbe? He’s in it also.

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