Musical Monday: Around the World (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
“Around the World” (1943)– Musical #353

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Allan Dwan

kay2Starring:
As themselves: Kay Kyser, Georgia Carroll, Harry Babbitt, Merwyn ‘Ish Kabibble’ Bogue, Joan Davis, Mischa Auer, Marcy McGuire, Wally Brown, Alan Carney, Barbara Hale (uncredited)
Actors: Robert Armstrong (uncredited)

Plot:
Bandleader Kay Kyser (as himself) and his band go on a U.S.O. tour to entertain troops during World War II. Along the way, he and his team run into comedic mishaps. One of these includes Mischa Auer (as himself), who becomes interested in buying ancient relics,

Trivia:
-This film marked the end of Kay Kyser’s RKO film career
-Singer Georgia Carroll’s first credited role.
-Robert Armstrong plays an uncredited role as a general.

Highlights:
-Kay Kyser made a Hays office joke.

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Musical Monday: Navy Blues (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:
“Navy Blues –Musical #512

navy blues2

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Lloyd Bacon

Starring:
Ann Sheridan, Martha Raye, Jack Oakie, Jack Haley, Herbert Anderson, Jack Carson, Jackie Gleason, John Ridgley, Georgia Carroll (uncredited), Leslie Brooks (uncredited), William Hopper (uncredited), Gig Young (uncredited)

Plot:
Cake and Powerhouse (Oakie, Haley) are two Navy seamen on leave in Hawaii and are trying to borrow money to pay their way for fun. They meet prize gunner Homer Matthews (Anderson), who is being transferred to their ship. Their meeting with Matthews sparks an idea to earn more money. They want to enter Homer into the gunner competition to win the trophy for their trip and start taking bets on his abilities with the rest of their shipmates. The only problem is Homer will only be on their ship for a few days before he is discharged from the Navy, leaving before the gunnery competition. Cake and Powerhouse now work to keep Homer from leaving the Navy, but Homer is eager to return to his pig farm in Iowa. They enlist the help of night club performers Marge (Sheridan) and Lilibelle (Martha.)

Jack Haley, Herb Anderson and Jack Oakie in "Navy Blues."

Jack Haley, Herb Anderson and Jack Oakie in “Navy Blues.”

Trivia:
-The first musical comedy to come from Warner Brothers in four years, according to a January 1941 column by Louella Parsons.
-Eddie Albert was orignally slated for the film, according to the January 1941 Parsons article.
-Intro: “Honolulu where Aloha means goodbye and Shore Leave means trouble.”
-Jackie Gleason’s film debut.

Highlights:
-Georgia Carroll performing as a chorus girl
-Ann Sheridan singing
-Herbert Anderson calling pigs

Notable Songs:
-“Navy Blues” performed by Ann Sheridan and Martha Raye
-“In Waikiki” performed by Ann Sheridan and chorus
-“You’re a Natural”performed by Herb Anderson and Ann Sheridan

Martha Raye and Ann Sheridan at the beginning of "Navy Blues." Unfortunately, neither has enough screen time for my liking.

Martha Raye and Ann Sheridan at the beginning of “Navy Blues.” Unfortunately, neither has enough screen time for my liking.

My Review:
The New York Times review, published on Sept. 21, 1941, hit the nail on the head in their review saying, “Oakie and Haley working harder for laughs than a bum vaudeville team in Omaha” and that the script is full of corn.
When I watched this movie looking for an Ann Sheridan vehicle. Sheridan was in a few musicals and I love to hear her deep singing voice. However, if you are looking for a film with a lot of Ann time, don’t look to “Navy Blues.”
The film opens with Sheridan singing “Navy Blues,” looking beautiful in an adorable sailor style costume…but the film goes downhill from there.
The film is centered around the crazy, frantic antics of Jack Haley and Jack Oakie as they do con their friends and will do anything to earn a buck. Our leading ladies Ann Sheridan and Martha Raye have very little screen time in this hour and 48 minute movie.
The antics revolve around getting Herb Anderson’s character to stay in the Navy. One of the biggest highlights of this film for me was seeing Anderson (or Dennis the Menace’s dad, as my family frequently calls him) in a larger role. Before his TV dad fame, Anderson was a film character actor. His character actor roles were usually smaller than other character actors such as James Gleason or William Frawley.
We even have the opportunity to hear Anderson sing. He’s just always someone I enjoy seeing on screen. His demeanor and turtle-like look makes me smile.

Ann Sheridan and Herb Anderson in "Navy Blues."

Ann Sheridan and Herb Anderson in “Navy Blues.”

It was also a great surprise to see lovely Georgia Carroll appear in this film, singing as one of the Navy Blues Sextette Members. Carroll was the singer for band leader Kay Kyser’s band and the two later married. I believe I even shouted “That’s Georgia Carroll!” when she appeared on screen.
“Navy Blues” isn’t the worst musical I have ever seen, it’s simply that Oakie and Haley’s corn got tiresome when all I wanted was to see more Ann Sheridan.

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Y’alls dance, Y’alls dance: RIP Georgia Carroll

“Gorgeous” Georgia Carroll

Texas breeds cows, politicians and beautiful women.  One of these women was “Gorgeous” Georgia Carroll.

Carroll was born on Nov. 18, 1919 in Blooming Grove, Texas and became a model in the 1930s and 1940s.

Ginny Simms was Kyser’s orginal band singer. The two were romantically involved and Simms left shortly after they broke up. Carroll met future husband and band leader Kay Kyser during World War II, according to the Daily Tar Heel. Carroll enrolled in Kyser’s “Musical Kollege of Knowledge” as the band’s singer and the two later were married.

Carroll and Simms were the opposite end of the piano when it came down to talent and personality. They both brought different things to Kyser’s band.

Georgia Carroll was very beautiful and had an equally golden voice. Carroll was demure, classy and soft. She seems like she was probably polite, quiet and sweet in person. On the other hand, Ginny Simms had a beautiful voice, but she also had a lot of soul. She too was pretty but had a bit harsher appearance than Carroll. I don’t know much about Simms personally, but I do know that she went through men alot, and I’ve also wondered if she was working her way up the ladder. She dated Kyser, sang for him, then left when they broke up. She also had one of her big solo breaks in film after dating Louis B. Mayer. However, dating aside, Simms did have a long and successful marriage until she died in 1994.

Mr. and Mrs. Kyser

Kyser left the big band scene in the early 1950s, and moved his family to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Carroll remained in Chapel Hill from 1951 until her death this year at the age of 91.

Kyser was a 1928 UNC graduate- he wrote their fight song and was student body president- and that may be one reason I like him so much. Kyser has a lot of southern charm and humor and went back home to his roots when he retired. Carroll also was a UNC grad, taking 20 years to graduate when she just took one class a semester.  Carroll also helped start a historical preservation society in Chapel Hill in 1972 to save buildings that might be torn down.

On a bit more of a personal note, my grandparents lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina from 1956 to 1961, while my grandfather was teaching and getting his PhD at UNC.  Though Kyser was a Christian Scientist, Georgia Carroll and the children went to the same Lutheran church my grandparents went to. My mom was in the same Sunday school class as some of the Kyser children, though she was too young to remember, and my grandmother saw Georgia in church frequently. She said she was just as beautiful in person as she was on the screen.

Grandmama even said she would see Kay Kyser in the grocery store on occasion, but she was too nervous to say hello. Such a shame.

Rest in peace, Georgia Carroll. She is so beautiful and is yet another classic singer or star who has left us. Not only do I love her for her talent, but I have always been so intrigued that she lived so nearby.

I really had planned on calling her for an interview for my blog sometime, but never could get up the nerve.

Here is a great video of Kyser’s band with Carroll from “Thousands Cheer” (1943).  Carroll sings about 3 minutes in, but it also shows the energy and fun of Kay Kyser:

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