Musical Monday: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)

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:
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) – Musical #606

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Herbert Ross

Starring:
Peter O’Toole, Petula Clark, Michael Redgrave, George Baker, Siân Phillips, Michael Bryant, Michael Culver

Plot:
In a film that begins in the 1920s and ends in the years following World War II, Arthur Chipping (O’Toole) is an unpopular teacher at an all boy’s school. He falls in love and marries a showgirl Katherine Bridges (Clark). The school and its patrons don’t think Katherine is refined enough to be connected to the school.

Continue reading

Advertisements

TCMFF Musical Monday: The Dolly Sisters (1945)

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

This week’s musical:
The Dolly Sisters (1945) – Musical #333

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Irving Cummings

Starring:
Betty Grable, John Payne, June Haver, S.Z. Sakall, Reginald Gardiner, Frank Latimore, Sig Ruman, Gene Sheldon, Trudy Marshall, Elmer the Seal, Theresa Harris, J. Farrell MacDonald, Collette Lyons (uncredited), Mae Marsh (uncredited), Ricki Van Dusen (uncredited), Evon Thomas (uncredited), Donna Jo Gribble (uncredited)

Plot:
A fictional biographical musical of the life of Hungarian acting sisters Jenny (Grable) and Rosie (Haver) Dolly. The sister act rose to fame during the 1910s and 1920s and were a top Broadway and European act. Jenny marries songwriter Harry Fox (Payne), who is envious of Jenny’s success.

The real Dolly Sisters

Betty Grable and June Haver as the Dolly Sisters

Trivia:
– The real Dolly sisters were acted from 1907 to the early 1920s. The sisters retired in 1929 and their later life was tumultuous. In 1921, Jenny was in a severe car accident that left required her to have reconstructive facial surgery and multiple other surgeries (her stomach was in her lung chamber). Jenny committed suicide in 1921. Rosie died of a heart attack in 1970.
– Betty Grable originally wanted Dick Haymes for the role as Harry Fox, but Zanuck refused and suggested Perry Como, who Grable said was too short, according to the biography “Pin-Up: The Tragedy of Betty Grable” by Spero Pastos
– George Jessel’s film debut as a movie producer
– The character of Flo Daly is based on Fanny Brice
– Gale Robbins, Janet Blair, Vivian Blaine, Patricia Romero and the Dowling Twins were all considered for roles.

Highlights:
– Orry-Kelly costumes, particularly in the makeup box number

Orry-Kelly costume for lipstick

Orry-Kelly costume for mascara

Notable Songs:
-“The Vamp” performed by June Haver and Betty Grable
-“I Can’t Begin to Tell You” performed by John Payne
-“Give Me the Moonlight, Give Me the Girl” performed by John Payne and Betty Grable
-“Don’t Be Too Old Fashioned (Old Fashioned Girl)” performed by Betty Grable and June Haver
-“Powder, Lipstick and Rouge” performed by the chorus
-“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” performed by John Payne and Betty Grable

My review:
I adore Betty Grable. I love to watch her candy-coated Technicolor films, her exuberant dancing and the way she can sell a song. I even own a CD of her songs and drive around singing to it.

But in the grand scheme of her films, like “Moon Over Miami” and “Springtime in the Rockies,” I just don’t enjoy “The Dolly Sisters.”

Let’s start with the good points: It’s very colorful and it has some wonderful costumes.

But as far as a the plot of this fictionalized biographical musical, it is not the best of 20th Century Fox’s Technicolor musical extravaganzas.

For me, one thing that taints this movie for me is the co-starring of Betty Grable and June Haver. Appearance wise, Grable and Haver look extremely similar. But their sisterly bond was strictly for the screen. Grable didn’t like or trust June Haver. Grable always remained professional toward her, but also she felt that Haver was gunning for her star status, according to the book Betty Grable: The Reluctant Movie Queen by Doug Warren.

The plot of this movie is also frustrating. Harry Fox, played by John Payne, is bitter that his wife, Jenny Dolly played by Betty Grable, is more famous than he is and wants her to quit. But you can’t just quit a sister act …

The real life Dolly Sisters also ended up having a pretty grim life. They both partied and dated some of the same men, and, as depicted in the film, Jenny Dolly was in a severe car wreck. In real life, Jenny was left destitute and depressed after this, selling her jewels to pay for gambling debts and medical bills. Jenny killed herself in 1941.

As far as the musical numbers, many of them are glittering with great costumes and familiar songs.

However, one is rather cringey. “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball” is a cringey number. After Grable and Haver perform the initial chorus, chorus girls come out in blackface in costumes that perpetuate stereotypes. This includes a performed with a gambling/money motif on her dress and another with a muff that is a watermellon. The sisters then come out in stereotypical child blackface costumes. It’s just bad.

Other costumes in the film are worth mentioning, though. Designed by Orry-Kelly, the costumes for “Powder, Lipstick and Rouge” are so fun. Each chorus girl is dressed as a different cosmetic item. Including a woman with a tall hat to signify lipstick and another with a skirt that looks like a powder puff.

While “The Dolly Sisters,” isn’t my favorite Betty Grable film, it does exhibit the sparkling appeal of 20th Century Fox.

This musical screened at TCMFF on nitrate this weekend.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

Musical Monday: The Opposite Sex (1956)

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

This week’s musical:
The Opposite Sex (1956) – Musical #175

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
David Miller

Starring:
June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Leslie Nielsen, Jeff Richards, Joan Blondell, Sam Levine, Agnes Moorehead, Charlotte Greenwood, Bill Goodwin, Alice Pearce, Carolyn Jones, Harry James, Alan Marshall, Jim Backus, Dick Shawn, Barrie Chase (uncredited), Dean Jones (uncredited)

Plot:
Kay Hilliard (Allyson) is married to Broadway producer Steve Hilliard (Nielsen). She learns from her gossip at the beauty parlor that Steve is cheating on her with one of the girls in his show, Crystal Allen (Collins). Kay’s catty friends Sylvia (Gray) and Edith (Blondell) revel in the gossip while Amanda (Sheridan) tries to help Kay and encourages her not to get a divorce. Kay, a former radio singer, divorces her husband and restarts her career.

Continue reading

Musical Monday: Because You’re Mine (1952)

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:
Because You’re Mine (1952) – Musical No. 604

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Alexander Hall

Starring:
Mario Lanza, Doretta Morrow, James Whitmore, Bobby Van, Rita Corday (billed as Paula Corday), Dean Miller, Jeff Donnell, Spring Byington, Don Porter, Eduard Franz, Dabs Greer (uncredited)

Plot:
Renaldo Rossano (Lanza) is a famous opera singer who is drafted into the Army. His sergeant, Batterson (Whitmore) turns out to be a big fan of Rossano and gives him preferential treatment. Batterson also introduces Rossano to his sister Bridget (Morrow), hoping that Rossano can give her a break. Rossano helps out, hoping it will get him out of the Army and back on stage, but then he falls in love with Bridget.

Continue reading

Musical Monday: Swing Fever (1943)

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:
Swing Fever (1943) – Musical No. 391

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Tim Whelan

Starring: Kay Kyser, Marilyn Maxwell, William Gargan, Nat Pendleton, Curt Bois, Andrew Tombes, Maxie Rosenbloom, Morris Ankrum, Pamela Blake, Ava Gardner (uncredited), Karin Booth (uncredited)
Themselves: Lena Horne, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason, Ish Kabibble, Trudy Erwin, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James

Plot:
Lowell Blackford (Kyser) wants to publish music for a symphonietta, but his desire to publish serious music is overshadowed by his hypnotic”evil eye” he can put on people to make them do what he wants. Fight promoter ‘Waltzy’ Malone (Gargan) wants to use Lowell’s skill to help his boxer win the championship. Malone uses attractive singer Ginger Gray (Maxwell) to help get Ginger to help convince Lowell to help them out.

Continue reading

Musical Monday: On with the Show! (1929)

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:
On With The Show! (1929) – Musical No. 605

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Alan Crosland

Starring:
Arthur Lake, Betty Compson, Joe E. Brown, Sally O’Neil, William Bakewell, Louise Fazenda, Sam Hardy, Ethel Waters, John W. Bubbles, Henry Fink, Otto Hoffman, Purnell Pratt, Josephine Huston, The Fairbanks Twins (Marion Fairbanks, Madeline Fairbanks)

Plot:
A performance stage troupe hopes to hit it big with their show “The Phantom Sweetheart.” They haven’t made it to Broadway and their actors haven’t been paid so their livelihood stands on the success of this performance. Offstage, the actors (Lake, Compson, Brown, Fazenda) and producer (Hardy) deal with a collector who wants to take the box office earnings or the scenery to pay for their debts. Midway through the show, the box office money is stolen and a ticket taker (Bakewell) is accused of stealing it.

Continue reading

Musical Monday: Finian’s Rainbow (1968)

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:
Finian’s Rainbow (1968) – Musical #603

Studio: Warner Bros. – Seven Arts

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Fred Astaire, Petula Clark, Tommy Steele, Don Francks, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Hancock, Al Freeman Jr., Ronald Colby, Dolph Sweet, Wright King, Vince Howard (uncredited)

Plot:
Father and daughter Irish immigrants Finian (Astaire) and Sharon (Clark) McLonergan travel to the American southern town of Rainbow Valley. Finian wants to bury his gold at Fort Knox thinking that it will grow more gold, but he is followed by a Leprechaun Og (Steele) who wants to retrieve the gold before he is turned human.

When a bigoted senator (Wynn) realizes gold is buried on the property, he tries to get the land from Finian.

Continue reading