Musical Monday: Go West, Young Lady (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:
Go West, Young Lady (1941) – Musical #593

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Alfred E. Green

Starring:
Penny Singleton, Glenn Ford, Ann Miller, Charles Ruggles, Allen Jenkins, Jed Prouty, Onslow Stevens, Bob Wills, Chief Many Treaties (or Bill Hazlet), Waffles the Dog, The Foursome, The Texas Playboys

Plot:
The western town of Headstone is looking for a new sheriff to get rid of outlaw Killer Pete. Jim Pendergast (Ruggles) think it’s going to be his “nephew,” Bill Pendergast. Bill turns out to be Belinda (Singleton) (with the nickname Bill) and is headed on a stagecoach with the newly appointed sheriff Tex Miller (Ford).

Trivia:
– Edgar Buchanan was originally cast as Jim Pendergast, but couldn’t get out of a film commitment. Charles Ruggles, who was cast in another role, switched roles and Jed Prouty was brought on.
– The only non-Blondie film that Penny Singleton worked on while she was under contract at Columbia.
– The film included many people who worked on the Blondie films: director Frank Strayer, producer Robert Sparks, actor Penny Singleton and writers Richard Flournoy and Karen DeWolf

Allen Jenkins and Ann Miller performing in “Go West, Young Lady”

Highlights:
-Allen Jenkins singing
-Pie falling because of shooting

Notable Songs:
-“Go West, Young Lady” performed by Ann Miller
-“I Wish I could Be a Singing Cowboy” performed by Allen Jenkins
-“Dogie Take Your Time” performed by Penny Singleton

My review:
Go West, Young Lady (1941) is a delightful and charming film. It is classified as a musical, but it is more comedy western with a hint of musical natures in it.

The B-budget film stars Penny Singleton, Glenn Ford and Ann Miller. Today, Ford and Miller are the big names of this film, but in 1941, Singleton was more famous than her co-stars. At this point in time, Singleton was knee-deep performing in “Blondie” movies. Singleton had starred in nine Blondie films by the time “Go West, Young Lady” was released in 1941, and this was the only none-Blondie role she starred in from 1938 to 1946.

While the Blondie films were fun, it was refreshing to see Penny Singleton in a different role. This was still a comedic role, but it gave Singleton the opportunity to sing, dance and act with new co-stars that weren’t Dagwood or Baby Dumpling.

Singleton performs the lilting western tune, “Dogie Take Your Time.” She also performs a funny song and dance in the saloon “Most Gentlemen Don’t Prefer a Lady,” where she dances in her pantaloons.

Glenn Ford and Ann Miller were still finding their way in their careers and hadn’t yet reached the level of stardom we later know them for. However, Miller had been in more high-quality films than either of her co-stars, like “Stage Door” and “You Can’t Take it with You.”

Ann Miller plays the bad girl saloon dancer who has some entertaining musical numbers. She dances and sings the title song, “Go West, Young Lady.” A real treat is a comedic number Miller sings and dances with character actor – Allen Jenkins, yes he does sing! Jenkins doesn’t have the voice of a canary, which makes the song even more funny.

Glenn Ford doesn’t do any singing or dancing but brings the heroics. His chemistry with Singleton is surprisingly sweet and charming.

While “Go West Young Lady” is more a comedy, it has enough songs, dancing and novelty numbers for me to consider it a musical. It’s only 70 minutes but is quite fun and entertaining. I love this film, because it gives a rare glimpse at Penny Singleton not playing Blondi (in the midst of the Blondie series). This musical doesn’t show up often, but when you have the chance, give it a watch.

Penny Singleton and Glenn Ford in “Go West, Young Lady.”

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Musical Monday: Interrupted Melody (1955)

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:
Interrupted Melody (1955)– Musical #343

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Curtis Bernhardt

Starring:
Eleanor Parker, Glenn Ford, Roger Moore, Cecil Kellaway, Ann Codee

Plot:
Biographical film on Australian opera singer Marjorie Lawrence, whose rising fame comes to a halt when she becamesf ill with polio. Paralyzed from the waist down, Marjorie isn’t sure if she will ever be able to perform or have the will to.

Continue reading

“Babies for Sale” (1940)

“Babies for Sale.”

Few film titles have made me chuckle  as much as this 1940 B-movie did.

babies for sale

But the movie starring Glenn Ford and Rochelle Hudson is not a comedy but a crime drama about organizations posing as charitable adoption agencies who are actually selling babies for thousands of dollars.

The film prefaces with:

“Producers of the film are sympathetic with the 95-percent of the charitable organizations dealing with adopted children. These institutions are honest and worthy of all support. This picture is presented as a warning to all parents and to all who plan to adopt children. That some unsupervised private institutions do exist where babies are sold for cash. Where helpless mothers are victimized and where foster parents may find lifelong tragedy instead of happiness. This is a story of one such institution and victims.
What happens in this story could happen to you?”

What’s it about?

Rochelle Hudson and Glenn Ford, Columbia Pictures Studios tried to make the two actors a screen team.

Rochelle Hudson and Glenn Ford, Columbia Pictures Studios tried to make the two actors a screen team.

Ford as Steve Burton is a reporter who gets the scoop from Dr. John Gaines (Joe De Stefani) about fake adoption agencies. Gaines tells Burton that families pay anywhere from $50 to $10,000 for a child. Single women who go to these agencies to have their babies have to work there and earn $1,000 to get their baby.

After writing the story that uses phrases such as “Selling babies by the pound” and “Thousands of babies sold for cash,” Burton faces backlash and the editor is going to retract the story. Believing what he did is right; Burton quits but doesn’t give up investigating the case.

Then the audience gets a look inside one of these agencies.

Mr. and Mrs. Howard Anderson (character actor John Qualen and Helen Brown) are facing Dr. Rankin, the owner of the adoption agency. The couple’s child has defects and will never be well. Rankin says the baby was perfectly fine when he gave them the baby they paid $10,000 for—Basically making it sound like he sold the couple a car. Desolate Mrs. Anderson runs in front of a train with the baby after they leave.

Pregnant women earning their keep to pay for their babies once they are born. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen cap by Jessica P.)

Pregnant women earning their keep to pay for their babies once they are born. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen cap by Jessica P.)

We meet pregnant Ruth Williams (Rochelle Hudson) whose husband died in an automobile accident.

Ruth has to work at the agency while she is pregnant to pay for her child once it’s born. During this time, Rankin tries to convince Ruth to give up her baby.

“We have to make sacrifices for the ones we love,” he tells her.

“I won’t give away my baby!” she demands.

Once her baby is born, Rankin tells Ruth that it was a stillborn, but she knows he adopted it to another family.

With the help of Burton, Ruth finds her baby through the use of baby foot prints taken after birth. They find Ruth’s baby with a friendly wealthy family who help put Rankin out of business.

The back story

Ex-reporter Burton helps Ruth get her baby back. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen cap by Jessica P.)

Ex-reporter Burton helps Ruth get her baby back. (Comet Over Hollywood/ Screen cap by Jessica P.)

“Babies for Sale” was recently shown for the first time on Turner Classic Movies while the channel was celebrating the career of actor Glenn Ford. Ford was 24 and “Babies” was his fifth film.

It was Ford’s third film with Rochelle Hudson- who also starred in “Imitation of Life” (1934)- and Columbia Pictures was working to make the two a screen team but it never panned out, said TCM Primetime Host Robert Osborne.

Studious also worked to make Ford and Evelyn Keyes a screen team, starring in six films together, but their screen chemistry didn’t explode either. It wasn’t until Ford starred with Rita Hayworth in “Gilda” (1946) that he found his match.

Many of Ford’s early films were similar to “Babies for Sale,” with crime and corruption. “Babies” wasn’t made to be a box office sensation but to be shown during a double feature, Osborne said.

Also early in his career, Bruce Bennett can be spotted as a police officer.

What I thought
Though the title made me laugh, “Babies for Sale” is an entertaining movie. B-movies get a bad rap for being inexpensive, but they are some of my favorite films. The plot line are sensational using lines like “The mother had no right to keep her baby,” and the story can be told in just a little over an hour.

Ford showed potential even early in his career giving a solid performance and coming off as very likeable.

Next time you come across it, give it –and other B-movies- a chance. It will be a pleasant way to spend 65 minutes.

Ruth gets her baby back from a friendly, wealth family. (Comet Over Hollywood/Screen cap by Jessica P.)

Ruth gets her baby back from a friendly, wealth family. (Comet Over Hollywood/Screen cap by Jessica P.)

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