Musical Monday: At War with the Army (1950)

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:
At War with the Army (1950) – Musical #581

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
Hal Walker

Starring:
Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Polly Bergen, Mike Kellin, Jimmie Dundee, Tommy Farrell, Danny Dayton, William Mendrek, Angela Greene, Jean Ruth

Plot:
Set on an Army base during World War II, Pfc. Alvin Korwin (Lewis) and 1st Sgt. Vic Puccinelli (Martin) were friends before the war and had a nightclub act. Private Korwin wants to go home to see his newly born baby and Sgt. Puccinelli wants to be transferred overseas. Confusion ensues when a pregnant old girlfriend arrives to visit Sgt. Vic Puccinelli.

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Musical Monday: Bells Are Ringing (1960)

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.

bells4This week’s musical:
“Bells Are Ringing” (1960)– Musical #72

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Vincente Minnelli

Starring:
Judy Holliday, Dean Martin, Fred Clark, Jean Stapleton, Eddie Foy Jr, Ruth Storey, Dort Clark, Frank Gorshin, Donna Douglas (uncredited), Elizabeth Montgomery (uncredited)

Plot:
Ella Patterson (Holliday) is a telephone operator who works for an answering service, Susanswerphone, and she tries to help out all of her subscribers. She falls in love with the voice of one of her subscribers Jeffrey Moss (Martin), who is a playwright that isn’t writing. When his agent (Clark), who is also a subscriber, says he will be fired if he doesn’t turn in a script soon, Ella takes matters into her own hands to help him out and coming face to face with him. The only problem is that Ella and her Susanswerphone could get shut down by investigators who are suspicious that it’s a front for an escort service.

Trivia:
-Judy Holliday’s last film. She passed away in 1965 due to breast cancer.
-Judy Holliday and Jean Stapleton were both in the original 1956 Broadway show and reprised their roles in this film. The Dean Martin role was played by Sydney Chaplin, son of Charlie Chaplin.
-Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
-The last film Arthur Freed and Vincente Minnelli collaborated on for MGM.
-Holliday was unhappy on the film and didn’t like the film version in comparison to her Broadway experience. She even tried to break her contract, offered to give back her salary and suggested Shirley MacLaine take over the role. Minnelli didn’t take Holliday up on the offer and she finished the film, according to the book A Hundred Or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli by Mark Griffin

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Highlights:
-The intro commercial for the answering service “Susanswerphone”

Awards and Nominations:
André Previn was nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture

Notable Songs:
-“It’s a Perfect Relationship” performed by Judy Holliday
-“Better Than a Dream” performed by Judy Holliday and Dean Martin
-“Just in Time” performed by Judy Holliday and Dean Martin
-“Drop That Name” performed by the chorus and Judy Holliday
-“The Party’s Over” performed by Judy Holliday

My review:
When I first saw “Bells are Ringing” in high school, I was disappointed. But a recent re-watch changed my mind and I thought it was a lot of fun. It’s colorful, has entertaining songs and a great cast.

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Arthur Freed, Vincente Minnelli, Judy Holliday

While it’s entertaining to watch, apparently Judy Holliday did not enjoy making this film, according to Minnelli biographies, Vincente Minnelli: Hollywood’s Dark Dreamer by Emanuel Levy and A Hundred Or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli by Mark Griffin. However, you can’t tell it. Holliday’s performance is energetic, funny and makes it appear that she’s having the time of her life.

Dean Martin is also wonderful in the film, as well as Jean Stapleton and Frank Gorshin in their supporting roles. If you look really closely in the scene with Frank Gorshin, young Elizabeth Montgomery is a beatnik reading a book in the foreground.

Not only did this mark the last time producer Arthur Freed and Vincent Minnelli made a “Freed Unit” film, I believe it’s one of the last true MGM musicals. By this time, the Judy Garland and Jane Powell musical extravaganzas were a thing of the past and “Bells are Ringing” is a curtain call to how things once were for MGM. After this, the “Freed Unit” was no more. It was also Judy Holliday’s last film before she died in 1965 due to breast cancer.

While this film marked several endings for careers and eras, it’s still an entertaining romp.

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Musical Monday: Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957)

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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.

p721_p_v7_aaThis week’s musical:
Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957) – Musical #520

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Dean Martin, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Paul Heinreid, Walter Slezak, Eva Bartok, Dewey Martin, Jules Munshin, Dean Jones

Plot:
Wealthy American Ray Hunter (Martin) owns a successful chain of hotels all over the world. The latest hotel he buys is in Rome where Nina Martelli (Alberghetti) works as a stenographer. Nina the youngest with three older sisters, the oldest-Maria (Bartok) who also is smitten with Ray. When Ray proposes to Nina, her father (Slezak) says there’s no way the youngest can get married be before her older sisters get married first. Ray gets to work on finding husbands for the other girls.

Trivia:
-Filmed on location in Rome, Italy
-The first film made after Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis’s partnership started to dissolve.

Notable Songs:
-Only Trust Your Heart performed by Dean Martin and Anna Marie Alberghetti

My review:
“Ten Thousand Bedrooms” is a cute, colorful musical with a great array of stars.
However, it didn’t fair too well in the box offices, resulting in a $1,196,000 for MGM. This was also a disappointment for Dean Martin. This was his first film after his split with Jerry Lewis. While Lewis’s career continued to with hit after hit, Martin wasn’t having as much luck.

Martin’s songs in the film were all fairly forgettable and seemed “safe” for a singer of his caliber. The worst of his songs is called “Money is a Problem,” a duet with Jules Munshin.

The most disappointing part of “Ten Thousand Bedrooms” for me is that we only here Anna Maria Alberghetti sing one song, and it’s only a few lines of the song.

Alberghetti has a beautiful operatic voice and which is completely wasted by not being utilized in the film.

The added bonus of this film is Paul Henreid. His part is small, but Henreid adds something special to all of his films.

The only other downside is that the film is a tad long at two full hours for as fluffy of a plotline.

For a colorful bit of cute escapism, check out “Ten Thousand Bedrooms,” just don’t expect any show stopping songs from either of the leads.

All of the brides in "Ten Thousand Bedrooms"

All of the brides in “Ten Thousand Bedrooms”

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