Musical Monday: Chasing Rainbows (1930)

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:
Chasing Rainbows (1930) – Musical #355

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Charles Reisner

Starring:
Bessie Love, Charles King, Jack Benny, George K. Arthur, Polly Moran, Marie Dressler, Gwen Lee, Nita Martan, Eddie Phillips, Ann Dvorak (uncredited)

Plot:
A group of actors travels across the country, touring their show. Carlie (Love) is in love with her vaudeville partner Terry (King), who falls in love with every leading lady.

Trivia:
-Introduced the song “Happy Days Are Here Again”
-The original released included a two-strip Technicolor finale, which is now lost.
-First titled “Road Showed”
-First film Jack Benny made in Hollywood, though not the first film released with him in it

Highlights:
-Marie Dressler sing/talk

Notable Songs:
-“Happy Days Are Here Again” performed by Charles King and the chorus
-“Lucky Me, Lovable You” performed by Charles King
-“My Dynamic Personality” performed by Marie Dressler

My review:
As I have noted before, musicals made shortly after the dawn of sound can be haphazard. Songs may be thrown in or randomly performed that don’t seem to fit in with the plot and dance numbers can be clumsy.

However, “Chasing Rainbows” is an exception. The mix of song and plot are done a little better in “Chasing Rainbows.” Perhaps it works better because the lead characters are in a musical show. So some songs are their performances, and others are to the person that they love.

What’s interesting is that our two leads, Charles King and Bessie Love, were both mainly done with Hollywood in 1931. Bessie Love’s career picked back up in 1950, when she started playing small roles in film and TV, but nothing at the caliber she was once at.

The actors that went on to be the biggest stars were the supporting characters: Marie Dressler and Jack Benny.

But “Chasing Rainbows” is disappointing, but it is not the fault of the director, writers or actors. When the film was released in 1930, the end of the film shift from black and white to 2-strip Technicolor finale with three songs, including Bessie Love and Charles King singing “Everybody Tap,” Charles King singing “Love Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues” and Marie Dressler reprising “My Dynamic Personality.”

However, this footage is lost and the movie ends abruptly. Bessie Love runs out of her dressing room and the movie ends. It would have been amazing to see that number that is now lost. It is also curious that the film preservationists chose not to add a photo still with a song playing over it, like is done in so many films with lost portions. But perhaps that wasn’t an option.

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Musical Monday: The Vagabond Lover (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:
The Vagabond Lover” (1929)– Musical #356

vagabond2

 

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Marshall Neilan

Starring:
Rudy Vallee, Sally Blane, Marie Dressler, Nella Walker, Malcolm Waite, Charles Sellon, Alan Roscoe, The Connecticut Yankees band

Plot:
Saxophone player Rudy Bronson (Vallee) forms a jazz band. To get off the ground, he and his band go to the home of famous bandleader Ted Grant (Waite) for an audition. Grant isn’t interested and kicks them out of his home and then heads out of town. Grant’s neighbors Jean Whitehall (Blane) and her aunt Ethel Bertha Whitehall (Dressler) mistaken Rudy and his band for Ted Grant. Rudy and his band play along but find themselves in hot water when they’re presented at a society fundraiser as Ted Grant and his band.

Rudy Vallee and Sally Blane in "Vagabond Lover"

Rudy Vallee and Sally Blane in “Vagabond Lover”

Trivia:
-Rudy Vallee’s first feature film
-“Vagabond Lover” was briefly Vallee’s publicity nickname

Notable Songs:
-“Nobody’s Sweetheart” performed by Rudy Vallee and the Connecticut Yankees
-“If You Were the Only Girl in the World” performed by Rudy Vallee
-“A Little Kiss Each Morning (A Little Kiss Each Night)” performed by Rudy Vallee
-“I Love You, Believe Me, I Love You” performed by Rudy Vallee

My review:
“The Vagabond Lover” is both an early film with sound and also Rudy Vallee’s film. It’s interesting to see this early film to see how both musicals and Rudy Vallee acting improved.

It’s very obvious that studios are still trying to figure out hot to best use sound. While the story line is less muddled than films like “Broadway Melody of 1929,” the sound volumes are often muddy. Sometimes the music is louder than the singing or talking, and other times I feel like the actors are shouting to be picked up by the microphone.

Sally Blane and Marie Dressler in Vagabond Lover

Sally Blane and Marie Dressler in Vagabond Lover

In his first film, Rudy Vallee isn’t a very good actor. But he apparently improved his acting craft over the years because Vallee was a skilled comedic actor in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Vagabond Lover” is just over an hour-long. It’s not terrible, but rather lackluster. Marie Dressler is wasted in the film and doesn’t exercise her comedic talents. Sally Blane is lovely, but is merely window dressing in the movie.

Overall, it’s watchable but not one I would be pressed to revisit.

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