Musical Monday: Springtime in the Rockies (1942)

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:
Springtime in the Rockies (1942) – Musical #163

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Irving Cummings

Starring:
Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, John Payne, Cesar Romero, Charlotte Greenwood, Edward Everett Horton, Iron Eyes Cody (uncredited), Jackie Gleason (uncredited), Russell Hicks (uncredited), Trudy Marshall (uncredited)
Himself: Harry James and His Music Makers, Six Hits and a Miss, Bando da Lua, Helen Forrest

Plot:
Vicky Lane (Grable) and Dan Christy (Payne) are a Broadway performing duo and also an item. But Vicky gets tired of Dan’s philandering and takes an offer performing at a resort in Lake Louise, located in the Canadian Rockies with her old dance partner Victor Prince (Romero). Dan follows Vicky to the Rockies to try to win her back, and because his career is sunk without her. Along the way he picks up a valet (Horton) and secretary (Miranda), who Vicky thinks he’s in love with.

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Musical Monday: The Gang’s All Here (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:
The Gang’s All Here (1943) – Musical #310

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Director: Busby Berkeley

Starring: Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, James Ellison, Phil Baker, Eugene Pallette, Charlotte Greenwood, Edward Everett Horton, Dave Willock, Sheila Ryan, Jeanne Crain (uncredited), June Haver (uncredited), Adele Jergens (uncredited), Adele Jergens (uncredited), Mary Stewart (uncredited), Frank Faylen (uncredited), Charles Saggau (uncredited)
Themselves: Benny Goodman and his Orchestra, Tony De Marco

Plot:
Nightclub performer Edie Allen (Faye) meets soldier Andy Mason (Ellison) in a night club. Andy falls for her, but gives her a false name. Edie writes to Andy (or Casey which is the name he gave her), while he is fighting in the Pacific. When he returns home a hero, a War Bond benefit is given in his honor starring Edie and the rest of the nightclub performers. The problem is, Andy is engaged to another girl (Ryan).

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Musical Monday: That Night in Rio (1941)

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:
That Night in Rio (1941) – Musical #308

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Irving Cummings

Starring:
Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda, S.Z. Sakall, Leonid Kinskey, Curt Bois, J. Carrol Naish, Maria Montez, Fortunio Bonanova
As themselves: Flores Brothers Trio

Plot:
Nightclub performer Larry Martin (Ameche) looks similar to the Baron Duarte (Ameche) and has an act where he poses as him. When Baron Duarte falls into financial issues and has to travel to Buenos Aires, his business partners have Larry step in to impersonate the Baron while he’s gone. Larry agrees, only if the Baron’s wife (Faye) isn’t informed that he is a stand-in.

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Hollywood Halloween: DIY Film Themed Costumes

This post was updated in 2018 and 2019 to incorporate new costumes.

If you’re like me (or any other classic film fan), the character or actor you want to dress as isn’t at Party City. There are only ill-fitting $80 Marilyn Monroe costumes from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” No one sells a “Gigi” costume so you can be Leslie Caron or a frumpy, loud costume to be Barbara Stanwyck in “Stella Dallas.” So that’s why we make our own.

Starting in my last year of college, I decided I wanted to dress as my favorite stars so I started making my own costumes for Halloween. Of course, I make these costumes fully knowing that the only people who will understand them are my Twitter followers and readers of Comet Over Hollywood. Here are my Halloween costumes since 2010:

 

Carmen Miranda Halloween costume in 2010

Carmen Miranda: Halloween 2010
As a huge musical fan, Carmen Miranda is always a bright spot. This was a fairly easy costume of gathering together various vibrant pieces to simulate the Carmen Miranda feel, rather than mimic a specific costume from one of her films. The only purchased clothing was the vest and skirt, which were vintage from eBay. While known as “the Lady with the Tutti Frutti Hat,” not all of Miranda’s hats involved fruit — some included umbrellas, butterflies or were simple, bright turbans. However, I decided to go with the fruit design since it was most identifiable. The hat was made of a baseball cap with the bill cut off and fruit from the five and 10 cent store glued and sewed on. No one knew who I was and only called me Chiquita Banana, who was inspired by Miranda.

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Musical Monday: Down Argentine Way (1940)

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.

Poster - Down Argentine Way_01This week’s musical:
Down Argentine Way” — Musical #273

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Irving Cummings

Starring:
Betty Grable, Don Ameche, Charlotte Greenwood, J. Carroll Naish, Carmen Miranda (as herself), Henry Stephenson, Leonid Kinskey, Fayard and Harold Nicholas (as themselves)

Plot:
Ricardo Quintana (Ameche) travels from his home in Argentina to New York to sell his prized race horse. His father (Stephenson) tells him not to sell his horse to any relative of Binnie Crawford (Greenwood), who’s brother cheated him and the two have been in a feud ever since. In New York, Ricardo meets Glenda Crawford (Grable) and falls for her. She also wants to buy his horse, unaware of the feud. When he learns who she is, he takes back his agreement to let her buy the horse. Glenda angrily follows Ricardo to Argentina.

Trivia:
-Remake of the 1938 film, “Kentucky” starring Loretta Young, Richard Greene and Walter Brennan. “Kentucky” is set in the American south and also deals with horse racing. Young and Greene’s families are feuding, because of an incident that occurred during the Civil War.

-Originally supposed to star Alice Faye, who had to drop out. Caesar Romero was supposed to play Leonid Kinskey’s role. The film ended up being a break through film for Betty Grable, who had been in films since the early 1930s, according to Hollywood Musicals Year by Year.

-First screen appearance of Carmen Miranda. Her scenes were shot in New York at the Movetone studio in Manhattan and edited into the Hollywood film, so her only film appearances are two songs and no dialogue with the characters. Miranda was performing on Broadway in “The Streets of Paris.” She made an impression on audiences and was signed to 20th Century Fox, according to Memo from Darryl F. Zannuck.

-Film gossip columnist Louella Parsons compared Don Ameche to Rudolph Valentino in this movie. She said he “has a good singing voice, but he has never been the least exciting until this movie,” she said in a Oct. 6, 1940, column.

-Don Ameche’s role was originally offered to Desi Arnaz, according to Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way by Gustavo Pérez Firmat

-Director Irving Cummings originally wanted to cut the Nicholas Brother’s three minute tap dance scene, according to Brotherhood in Rythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers by Constance Valis Hill.

Highlights:
-The Nicholas Brother’s tap dance performance.

-Carmen Miranda’s first screen appearance.

Notable Songs:
-“Down Argentine Way” sung by Betty Grable
-“Two Dreams Met” sung by Betty Grable and Don Ameche
-“Mamãe Yo Quero” sung by Carmen Miranda
-“South American Way” sung by Carmen Miranda

Betty Grable and Don Ameche in "Down Argentine Way"

Betty Grable and Don Ameche in “Down Argentine Way”

My Review:
“Down Argentine Way” may be looked upon as another colorful, fluffy Technicolor musical. But it’s an important step in two of the star’s careers and in Hollywood’s involvement with American foreign relations.
Catapulting star careers
Betty Grable, known for her “Million Dollar Legs,” started in films in bit roles in 1929. From 1929 through the late 1930s, she appeared as chorus girls-even in Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers films. “Down Argentine Way” was her first major Technicolor film, showcasing her beauty and musical talents. After this film, she became one of 20th Century Fox’s top stars.
Carmen Miranda arrived in New York via Brazil in May 1939 and started in Broadway in June 1939. “Down Argentine Way” was released in October 1940, only a little over a year from the time she arrived in the United States. Her brief appearance in the film, launched an American career, primarily from 1940 to 1945, and dubbing her the Brazilian Bombshell.
Foreign policy
Now it’s time for a brief history lesson thanks to my South American History and Policy class at Winthrop University. (I even semi led a Carmen Miranda discussion in the class):
During the President F. D. Roosevelt administration in 1933, FDR said (in a nutshell) that he wanted to be a good neighbor to other nations. The Secretary of State said no country had the right to intervene in internal or external affairs of another country. The United States had troops in South America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Due to the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States withdrew Marines who were occupying Haiti and Nicaragua.
To promote these neighborly relations, the United States worked to promote Latin America in culture. You can see the cultural impacts in films like “Down Argentine Way,” “That Night in Rio” or “Week-End in Havana.” Fashion was affected with espadrille shoes, fiesta blouses and peasant blouses. Music had a South American influence with bandleaders such as Xavier Cugat.
What does this have to do with movies? “Down Argentine Way” was one of the first Hollywood films that promoted the Good Neighbor Policy- showcasing the beautiful countries (via soundstage) and how wonderful and romantic the culture is.
“Down Argentine Way” isn’t the best film of Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda or Don Ameche. But it’s fun and beautifully colorful. The story is simple but it is important in the careers of a few Hollywood favorites.

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Musical Monday: Week-End in Havana (1941)

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.

Week-end_in_havanaThis week’s musical:
Week-End in Havana” (1941)–Musical #479

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Walter Lang

Starring:
Alice Faye, John Payne, Cesar Romero, Carmen Miranda, Cobina Wright, Leonid Kinskey, George Barbier

Plot:
Macy’s shop girl Nan Spencer (Faye) saves up her money to go on her first cruise to Havana. The only problem is, the ship hits a sandbar in Florida and the ship company has to reimburse everyone and offer them another trip. When ship employee Jay Williams (Payne)-who is also engaged to the boss’s daughter- is sent to reimburse the passengers and have them sign waivers, Nan isn’t satisfied with a check. She saved for years for this trip and also knows what the captain was doing when the ship crashed, which could threaten a lawsuit for the company.
Jay’s company sends Nan on an all expenses paid trip to Havana so she will sign the company’s waiver. Jay has to go along-postponing his wedding- to make sure Nan has a good time. Along the way she falls for Monte Blanca (Romero), who is the boyfriend/manager of Rosita Rivas (Miranda). Monte thinks Nan is wealthy and thinks he is using her to pay off his gambling debts.

Trivia:
-This is one of many films made in the 1940s with a “good neighbor” feel to it. Several films visited Latin American countries such as Cuba, Argentina or Brazil to showcase these countries and strengthen United States relations with Latin American government.
-Carmen Miranda’s second film.
-This was the second of three films Miranda and Faye made together. The other two films were “That Night in Rio” (1941) and “The Gang is All Here” (1943).

John Payne, Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda and Cesar Romero in "Week-End in Havana."

John Payne, Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda and Cesar Romero in “Week-End in Havana.”

Highlights:
-Every colorful Carmen Miranda performance
-Alice Faye and Cesar Romero dancing to “Romance and Rhumba.” It gives the audience an opportunity to see Romero’s smooth dance moves.

Notable Songs:
-Tropical Magic sung by Alice Faye and John Payne
-Rebola a Bola sung by Carmen Miranda
-The Ñango sung by Carmen Miranda complete with a lavish dance number
-Romance and Rhumba sung by Alice Faye and Cesar Romero

Review:
Alice Faye once said her singing voice was deeper than the plots of the films she made.
This may be the case with “Week-End in Havana,” but this film is a lot of fun. The colorful costumes and scenery are gorgeous in Technicolor, Carmen Miranda and Alice Faye are equipped with catchy songs and the two leading men are nice to look at.
The four leads seem to have fairly equal screen time- each delivering witty lines and offering scenes filled with charm.
Week-End in Havana” is a lighthearted 1940s “good neighbor” film, that is full of color and fun.

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Musical Monday: “Doll Face” (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:
Doll Face (1945)- Musical #474

doll face

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Lewis Seiler

Starring:
Vivian Blaine, Carmen Miranda, Dennis O’Keefe, Stephen Dunne, Perry Como, Martha Stewart (not the home decor woman)

Plot:
Mary “Doll Face” Carroll (Blaine) hopes to break out of burlesque and into the big time. When she is turned down due to her performing background, her manager Michael Hannigan (O’Keefe) decides to have a ghost written autobiography written about Mary. The author of the book Frederick Gerard (Dunne) begins to fall in love with Mary causing conflict with Michael, who also is in love with her. Using the publicity of the book, Michael begins to produce a Broadway show with the help of the other burlesque performers.

Trivia:

Carmen Miranda performing "Chico Chico"

Carmen Miranda performing “Chico Chico”

-Based on the 1943 play “The Naked Genius” written by burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee.
-Carole Landis was offered the lead in the film but turned it down, according to the book Carole Landis: A Most Beautiful Girl by Eric Lawrence Gans
-Carmen Miranda’s first starring film that is in black and white.
-“Eighty Miles Outside of Atlanta” from “Something for the Boys” can be heard in the background.
-Carmen Miranda’s song “True to the Navy” cut from the film. The song as filmed still exists. Paramount held exclusive rights to the song and wouldn’t allow 20th Century-Fox the song. It was performed by Clara Bow in “Paramount On Parade” (1930)
– “Doll Face” is one of four films Vivian Blaine and Carmen Miranda were in together. The other films included “If I’m Lucky” (1946), “Something for the Boys” (1945) and “Greenwich Village” (1944).

Notable Songs:
-Perry Como’s song “Hubba Hubba Dig You Later” became a hit for him after the film. It reached number 3 on the charts and was Como’s second Gold album, according to the book Perry Como: A Biography and Complete Career Record By Malcolm Macfarlane, Ken Crossland

My Review:
This film is fun and cute but forgettable. The songs aren’t very exciting either.
As a lover of classic films, I obviously enjoy films shot in black and white. However, casting Carmen Miranda, Hollywood’s most colorful performer, in a black and white was murderous to her career. Biographies on her life cite that her novelty was wearing off when Fox began casting her in non-color films.

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