Musical Monday: Waikiki Wedding (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.

waikiki weddingThis week’s musical:
Waikiki Wedding (1937) – Musical #709

Paramount Pictures Studios

Frank Tuttle

Bing Crosby, Bob Burns, Martha Raye, Shirley Ross, George Barbier, Leif Erickson, Grady Sutton, Granville Bates, Anthony Quinn, Mitchell Lewis, Emma Dunn (uncredited)

Tony Marvin (Crosby) is viewed as a genius by his boss (Barbier) at the Imperial Pineapple Company when he has the idea for the Miss Pineapple Princess contest, where the winner wins a trip to Hawaii. The only problem is that the winner, Georgia Smith (Ross), finds Hawaii dull as she is given tours by a group of businessmen. Tony creates an adventure so Georgia will speak favorably of Hawaii in a syndicated article. Along the way, they fall in love.

• The song “Blue Hawaii” was introduced in this film. The song was written by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger.
• Bing Crosby had to convince producer Arthur Hornblow to put the song “Sweet Leilani” into the film. He stayed away from the set for two days until Hornblow agreed to place the movie in the film. Written by Harry Owens, the song won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
• After this film was released, Hawaiian music and night clubs became popular, particularly in Hollywood in the late 1930s, according to Crosby’s biographer, Gary Giddons.

waikiki wedding3

• The cinematography
• The dance sequences

waikiki wedding4

Notable Songs:
• “Blue Hawaii” performed by Bing Crosby
• “Sweet Leilani” performed by Bing Crosby
• “My Hula Heaven” performed by Shirley Ross, Bing Crosby

waikiki wedding5

My review:
Anytime I hear a steel guitar, I’m ready to pack my bags and head to Hawaii. And you hear it a lot in this week’s Musical Monday, WAIKIKI WEDDING (1937).

With gorgeous black-and-white Hawaiian cinematography (by Robert C. Bruce and filmed by a second unit) and frequently hearing Bing Crosby croon “Blue Hawaii,” you’ll be ready for a tropical vacation too. The film’s plot is fun too. Bing Crosby, Bob Burns and Martha Raye are reteamed in this film after RHYTHM ON THE RANGE, this time including Shirley Ross in the cast.

Crosby plays Tony Marvin, who works in publicity and advertising for the Imperial Pineapple Company. Georgia Smith, played by Shirley Ross, won the Miss Pineapple contest. Part of her prize is a trip to Hawaii, with the goal that she will write articles about romantic Hawaii to boost tourism and pineapple sales. The problem is, Georgia is bored — her entertainment is being woken up at dawn and given tours of the island. As she threatens to write how bored she is on the islands, Tony is brought in to bring excitement to Georgia’s visit. With the help of his pal Shad Buggle (played by Bob Burns), the two fabricate an adventure involving a stolen pearl filled with intrigue. Georgia’s stenographer Myrtle Finch (played by Martha Raye) comes along for the ride.

I thought WAIKIKI WEDDING was such a good time. And if you like the tune “Blue Hawaii,” you’re in luck, because you hear it several times — not that that’s a complaint. There are also some wonderful dance numbers. The cinematography is also lovely, especially the second unit photography in Hawaii.

Bing Crosby is his usual role, playing the fun, easy going type. It’s particularly entertaining as he treats Shirley Ross the words to “Blue Hawaii.” I’m not very familiar with Shirley Ross, who felt like a dull leading lady but she was adequate.

The real highlight for me is Bob Burns and that pig he carried around, Wafford. After becoming acquainted with Burns on radio programs, I think he’s wonderful. Martha Raye was funny. Leif Erickson was also surprisingly funny, but he is also one of my few complaints of the film.

Erickson plays Georgia’s dentist fiancé who is searching for her. I felt this conflict was a bit underdeveloped and would have liked to see more of this. I also would have liked to see a bit more of the Crosby/Ross romance.

Regardless, this was a good time and it made me want to go on vacation, particularly to “Blue Hawaii.”

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