Musical Monday: Sunny Side Up (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Sunny Side Up (1929) – Musical #396

Studio:
Fox Film Corporation

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Marjorie White, Sharon Lynn, El Brendel, Frank Richardson, Jackie Cooper (uncredited)

Plot:
Wealthy Jack Cromwell (Farrell) is fed up with his flirting fiance, Jane (Lynn). One night he drives to New York City and meets working girl Molly (Gaynor), who recognizes him from the society pages. Jack decides to take Molly back to Long Island to make Jane jealous. Jack sets up Molly in an apartment and she poses as a society woman. Molly is in love with Jack, but rumors start that Molly is Jack’s “kept woman.”

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Musical Monday: Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930)

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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.

This week’s musical:
Sweet Kitty Bellairs –Musical #358

Sweet_Kitty_Bellairs_1930_Poster

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Alfred E. Green

Starring:
Claudia Dell, Ernest Torrence, Walter Pidgeon, Perry Askam, June Collyer

Plot:
Flirtatious Kitty Bellairs (Dell) goes to Bath, England, on holiday and all the men are after her, including Lord Varney (Pidgeon). Though she’s a flirt, she sings “in spite of my thirty or forty affairs, I’ve lost not a bit of my virtue.” On her way to Bath, her carriage is stopped by a robber who says he won’t rob her if he gives her a kiss. While Kitty is visiting her friend Julia (Collyer), her husband Lord Standish (Torrence) leaves her. Kitty gives Julia the advice to gussy up and pretend that she has a lover, which works in making Lord Standish jealous.

Publicity shot of Claudia Dell dressed in costume as Sweet Kitty Bellair

Publicity shot of Claudia Dell dressed in costume as Sweet Kitty Bellair

Trivia:
-This film was announced to be in Technicolor in a April 11, 1930 news brief. “Although it was reported last week, that the production was to be done in black and white, a last minute dispatch from the coast states the final decision to be in Technicolor.” Though the film was shot entirely in Technicolor, only a black and white print survives.

Highlights:
–Walter Pidgeon singing

Notable Songs:
-Highwayman Song performed by Perry Askam
-My Love, I’ll Be Waiting for You performed by Claudia Dell and Walter Pidgeon
-You, I Love But You performed by Claudia Dell
-Dueling Song performed by Ernest Torrence, Perry Askam, Edgar Norton, Lionel Belmore, Douglas Gerrard and others

Walter Pidgeon in costume for "Sweet Kitty Bellair"

Walter Pidgeon in costume for “Sweet Kitty Bellair”

My Review:
Somehow these early talkie films-whether they are musical, drama or comedy- are tiresome to me. “Sweet Kitty Bellairs” is better than most of them, but still not outstanding. It’s a humorous little musical romp lasting only an hour long. I believe it’s brief length is the only reason it’s bearable.
It has the added bonus of seeing early Walter Pidgeon and we get to hear Pidgeon and Ernest Torrence sing.
The story itself got poor reception in 1930 but received high praise for it’s color film.
It’s just disappointing the the Technicolor print no longer exists.

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Musical Monday: Devil-May-Care (1929)

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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.

devilThis week’s musical:
Devil-May-Care (1929) – Musical #536

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Sidney Franklin

Starring:
Ramon Novarro, Dorothy Jordan, Marion Harris, John Miljan, Ann Dvorak (uncredited), John Carroll (uncredited)

Plot:
Set during the Napoleonic era, Armand de Treville (Novarro) is a soldier for Napoleon and is jailed by the king. He is about to be killed by a firing squad and escapes. He hides in the bedroom of beautiful Leonie de Beaufort (Jordan), who immediately decides she hates Armand because she is a royalist. Armand continues to hide out from the royalists at the home of his friend Countess Louise (Harris), where he hides as a servant. Leonie ends up being the cousin of the Countess and she stays with her and resists the advances of Armand.

Trivia:
-Ramon Novarro’s talking debut.
-Labeled the “first dramatic operetta of talking pictures,” according to Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro
By Andre Soares
-Composer Dimitri Tiomkin wrote the ballet music in the musical score.

Notable Songs:
-Charming performed by Ramon Novarro
-March of the Guard performed by a chorus
-If He Cared performed by Dorothy Jordan

Highlights:
-Ramon Novarro singing.
-The brief Technicolor portion featuring the Albertina Rasch Dancers

My review:
I honestly wasn’t expecting much as I went into “Devil-May-Care.” In fact, I didn’t know it was going to be a musical until I saw the title card which detailed it as a “musical romance.” But as I continued watching, this ended up being a pleasant little film.
I think my biggest take away from “Devil-May-Care” was that I had no idea that Ramon Novarro could sing and with such a pleasant voice! “Devil-May-Care” wasn’t only the first time audiences heard Novarro sing, but also was the first time they ever heard him sing, as this was Novarro’s first talking film.
At one time, Novarro was a top draw in the box offices and was known the “New Valentino.” While this film is noteworthy as his first talkie, like many others, Novarro’s star began to slip with the dawn of talking pictures.
“Devil-May-Care” has a pretty slow moving story, but it flowed better with song and plot line than any other early (1929-1930) movie musical I have seen to date.
The movie was met with positive, but unenthusiastic reviews. The Dec. 23, 1929, review by Mordaut Hall called is “pleasant entertainment.”
“Mr. Novarro is not impressive as a Frenchman. He sings agreeably, but not as freely as one might anticipate after the constant references to his operatic career,” Hall wrote.
Hall also humorously wrote about troubles in the projection room during his “Devil-May-Care” experience: “The reproduction is fairly good, but once or twice last night the mechanics got beyond control of the operators in the projection booth.”
The plot line itself is uninspired and a bit slow, and it’s a bit distracting that Novarro is supposed to be French but speaks with a heavy Mexican accent. However, this little musical is notable for allowing fans to first hear the voice Ramon Novarro.

Ramon Novarro and Dorothy Jordan

Ramon Novarro and Dorothy Jordan

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