Musical Monday: The Singing Marine (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.

This week’s musical:
The Singing Marine – Musical #238

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Ray Enright

Starring:
Dick Powell, Doris Weston, Lee Dixon, Hugh Herbert, Jane Darwell, Allen Jenkins, Jane Wyman, Larry Adler, Marcia Ralston, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Veda Ann Borg, Henry O’Neill, Addison Richards, Eddie Acuff, Berton Churchill, Ward Bond (uncredited), Richard Loo (uncredited), Sam McDaniel (uncredited), Bert Moorhouse (uncredited),

Plot:
Bashful Marine Bob Brent (Powell) is too shy to date or converse and is most comfortable when he’s singing. His Marine buddies send him to New York to perform in an amateur radio contest, especially because his voice makes their girlfriends swoon. Bob travels with singing hopeful Peggy Randall (Weston), who he likes but is too bashful. When Bob becomes a big hit as the “Singing Marine,” his Marine friends find that he has become a snob and not willing to go back to his military life.

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Watching 1939: Five Came Back (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Five Came Back (1939)

Release date:  June 23, 1939

Cast: 
Chester Morris, Lucille Ball, Wendy Barrie, John Carradine, Allen Jenkins, Joseph Calleia, C. Aubrey Smith, Kent Taylor, Patric Knowles, Elisabeth Risdon, Casey Johnson, Dick Hogan, Pedro de Cordoba, Frank Faylen

Studio:  RKO Studios

Director:  John Farrow

Plot:
A Coast Airlines flight from the United States takes off to Panama with 12 passengers. The plane crashes in the jungle, because of a storm. Piloted by Bill (Morris) and Joe (Taylor), the plane is filled with several personalities:
• An elderly couple (Smith, Risdon)
• A wealthy man eloping with his secretary (Barrie, Knowles)
• A police officer (Carradine) with an anarchist prisoner (Calleia)
• A woman with a past (Ball)
• A gangster (Jenkins) chaperoning the child (Johnson) of his boss
• Larry (Hogan) the steward
Of the survivors, the plane can only take off with five passengers. The survivors have to decide who returns and who stays in the jungle, which is inhabited by head hunters.

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Watching 1939: Naughty But Nice (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Naughty But Nice (1939)
Musical No. 610

Release date:  July 1, 1939

Cast: 
Ann Sheridan, Dick Powell, Gale Page, Helen Broderick, Zasu Pitts, Ronald Reagan, Allen Jenkins, Maxie Rosenbloom, Jerry Colonna, Luis Alberni, Vera Lewis, Elizabeth Dunne, William B. Davidson, Halliwell Hobbes, Granville Bates, Hobart Cavanaugh (uncredited), John Ridgely (uncredited), Peter Lind Hayes (uncredited), Daisy Bufford (uncredited)

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Director:  Ray Enright

Plot:
Music Professor Donald Hardwick teaches at Winfield College and is opposed to swing and jazz music. Donald travels to New York to publish a symphony and stays with his Aunt Martha (Broderick), who is the black sheep of the family because she married a jazz saxophone player. Donald falls out of favor with his dean (Hobbes) when he’s tricked by lyricist Linda McKay (Page) and singer Zelda Manion (Sheridan) to write swing music.

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Watching 1939: Sweepstakes Winner (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Sweepstakes Winner (1939)

Release date:  May 20, 1939

Cast: 
Marie Wilson, Johnnie Davis, Allen Jenkins, Charley Foy, Jerry Colonna, Granville Bates, Vera Lewis, Frankie Burke, Sam McDaniel

Studio:  Warner Brothers

Director:  William C. McGann

Plot:
Jennie (Wilson) gets a $1,000 inheritance from her grandfather and is convinced to give it to bookies Tip (Jenkins) and Jinx (Foy) to bet on a horse. She wants to buy a horse named Firefly with the winnings, but Tip and Jinx lose her money. Broke, Jennie gets a job as a waitress but Jinx and Tip convince her to buy an Irish Sweepstakes ticket and she wins.

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Serenade me, Mr. Powell

Ginger Rogers was the Star of the Month for March on Turner Classic Movies. Ginger Rogers is a triple threat. She can sing, act and dance. She even won an Oscar for her 1941 performance in “Kitty Foyle.”

I taped several of her films that I haven’t seen (I’m trying to see all of her movies). One of these movies that I taped was “20 Million Sweethearts” (1934). The movie features Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell with a supporting cast of Allen Jenkins and Pat O’Brien.

Ginger Rogers is best known for the 10 films that she made with Fred Astaire. The screen team is recognized for their singing and dancing, but Astaire is generally the only one who gets to sing. Rogers only had the chance to sing solo in two of their 10 films together. These rare times occurred when Astaire refused to sing a song that was originally written for him. An example of this is “The Yam” in “Carefree” (1938).

The treat about the movie “Twenty-Million Sweethearts” is we actually heard Ginger sing several songs. I find it ironic that Ginger Rogers had the chance to sing more in a movie with Dick Powell than she does in her movies with Fred Astaire.

Dick Powell was one of the top “crooners” in the 1930s. His smooth voice could make women melt like butter. Fred Astaire was known more for his dancing. I’m sure women wouldn’t mind if he sang to them, but I have a feeling they would rather it be in their ear as he whisked them around on a dance floor.

Here is a comparison of the two men’s singing qualities:

Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers in “Twenty Million Sweethearts.” (1934)

Fred Astaire singing “The Way You Look Tonight” to Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time” (1936)

I personally would rather have Powell sing to me over Astaire. Who do you prefer?

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