Musical Monday: Love in the Rough (1931)

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.

love in the rough3This week’s musical:
Love in the Rough (1931) – Musical #468


Charles Reisner

Robert Montgomery, Dorothy Jordan, Benny Rubin, J.C. Nugent, Penny Singleton (billed as Dorothy McNulty), Allan Lane, Tyrell Davis, Harry Burns, Catherine Moylan, Ann Dvorak (uncredited), Polly Ann Young (uncredited)

When Jack Kelly’s (Montgomery) boss is on the verge of firing him, Jack learns that his boss’s demeanor is because of bad golf game. Jack says he can help him with his game, and gets into golf society at a country club.

• Remake of the silent film, Spring Fever (1927)
• The golf course was filmed at Lake Norconian Club in Norco, Calif.
• Only feature film of Earl “Snake Hips” Tucker.
• The song “Like Kelly Can” was written for the film, but not used.
• One of the first Hollywood films that songwriters Dorothy Field and Jimmy McHugh worked on.

• Earl ‘Snake Hips’ Tucker tap dancing to “I’m Doing That Thing Falling in Love.”
• Robert Montgomery singing
• Benny Rubin and Penny Singleton, and Robert Montgomery with Dorothy Jordan in “I’m Learning a Lot From You.”

Notable Songs:
• “I’m Doing That Thing (Falling In Love)” performed by Dorothy Jordan
• “I’m Learning a Lot from You” performed by Robert Montgomery and Dorothy Jordan, reprised by Benny Rubin and Penny Singleton
• “Go Home and Tell Your Mother” performed by Robert Montgomery and Dorothy Jordan
• “One More Waltz” performed by Donald Novis

love in the rough

Dorothy Jordan and Robert Montgomery

My review:
There’s something about this movie that just feels like fun, glamorous old Hollywood. It’s carefree, youthful and feels like springtime.

This film follows shipping clerk, Jack Kelly (Montgomery), who finagles his way out of being fired and on to the golf course when his boss (Nugent) hires him as a golf coach. While staying at an exclusive golf resort, Jack is mistaken for being a shipping executive and heiress Marilyn Crawford (Jordan) falls for him.

The glamorous resort setting, the fashions, the singing with the ukulele — it all contributed to the spring feeling of this film and it simply made me feel good.

Now, this is perhaps not your standard musical filled with songs, but with four songs and some dance numbers, it has enough to qualify as a musical in my book. And it fares well in the world of early sound films musicals. While some of these early musicals were clumsy and awkward, the songs and dances are fairly seamless. The only awkward timing is when the performers end their numbers and pose, the camera lingers a little too long as they hold their pose for several seconds.

You don’t generally think of Robert Montgomery as a singer, but he sings and dances in this film and does a pretty good job. He is also incredibly handsome in this film.

The leading lady is Dorothy Jordan, who isn’t as well known today, but is pleasant as she performs. The real standout is Penny Singleton in an early role — then billed as Dorothy McNulty. She seems to personify the youth of the era and is vibrant. I the dance number “I’m Doing That Thing (Falling in Love)” danced by Singleton, Jordan, Montgomery and Benny Rubin who do some interesting choreography with golf clubs.

This film was also one of the first Hollywood films that songwriters Dorothy Field and Jimmy McHugh worked on. Field and McHugh wrote several fun songs, and I particularly liked “Go Home and Tell Your Mother.”

In the early musicals, songwriters an musical staging was a bit different, and they had to get creative.

“There was a theory that every time you did a song in a picture, it had to be excused by either having a guitar or a banjo on set. They refused to have music come from nowhere. (In Love in the Rough) Every time we did a song, the caddies would accompany this love song, behind bushes and then the music would creep in,” songwriter Dorothy Fields is quoted by her biographer.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, but it just was so much fun. Almost like a breath of spring.

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