Watching 1939: Beauty for the Asking (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film: 
Beauty for the Asking (1939)

Release date: 
Feb. 10, 1939

Cast: 
Lucille Ball, Patric Knowles, Donald Woods, Frieda Inescort, Inez Courtney, Leona Maricle, Frances Mercer, Whitney Bourne, Kay Sutton, Ann Evers, Charles Coleman (uncredited), Leon Belasco (uncredited)

Studio: 
RKO Radio Pictures

Director: 
Glenn Tryon

Plot:
Jean Russell (Ball) is jilted by her fiancée Denny Williams (Knowles), when he marries $10 million heiress Flora Barton-Williams (Inescort). After also losing her job, Jean tries to focus on marketing a cold cream that she has been developing in her kitchen. Jean becomes a successful cosmetic entrepreneur with a cold cream and beauty salon with Denny and his wife as an investor in the business, with Denny trying to get back in Jean’s good favors.

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Musical Monday: Joy of Living (1938)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Joy of Living (1938) – Musical #276

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Tay Garnett

Starring:
Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Alice Brady, Guy Kibbee, Jean Dixon, Lucille Ball, Eric Blore, Warren Hymer, Billy Gilbert, Dorothy Steiner, Estelle Steiner, Frank Milan, Franklin Pangborn, John Qualen, Clarence Nash (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited), Charles Lane (uncredited), Richard Alexander (uncredited), Tay Garnett (uncredited)

Plot:
Margaret Garrett (Dunne) is an overworked Broadway star whose family (Brady, Ball, Kibbee) is living off of her. Exhausted and also learning she’s near broke because of the chiseling family, she meets Dan Brewster (Fairbanks), who teaches her how to have fun and relax.

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Musical Monday: Mame (1974)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Mame (1974) – Musical #523

Studio:
Warner Bros.

Director:
Gene Saks

Starring:
Lucille Ball, Robert Preston, Bea Arthur, Bruce Davison, Kirby Furlong, Jane Connell, George Chiang, Joyce Van Patten, Don Porter, John McGiver, Audrey Christie, Bobbi Jordan, Doria Cook-Nelson (billed as Doria Cook), Burt Mustin

Plot:
Set in the late-1920s and early 1930s, nine-year-old Patrick (Furlong) goes to live with his only living relative, Auntie Mame (Ball), after his father dies. Mame is eccentric, free-spirited and lives unconventionally.

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Watching 1939: Five Came Back (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  Five Came Back (1939)

Release date:  June 23, 1939

Cast: 
Chester Morris, Lucille Ball, Wendy Barrie, John Carradine, Allen Jenkins, Joseph Calleia, C. Aubrey Smith, Kent Taylor, Patric Knowles, Elisabeth Risdon, Casey Johnson, Dick Hogan, Pedro de Cordoba, Frank Faylen

Studio:  RKO Studios

Director:  John Farrow

Plot:
A Coast Airlines flight from the United States takes off to Panama with 12 passengers. The plane crashes in the jungle, because of a storm. Piloted by Bill (Morris) and Joe (Taylor), the plane is filled with several personalities:
• An elderly couple (Smith, Risdon)
• A wealthy man eloping with his secretary (Barrie, Knowles)
• A police officer (Carradine) with an anarchist prisoner (Calleia)
• A woman with a past (Ball)
• A gangster (Jenkins) chaperoning the child (Johnson) of his boss
• Larry (Hogan) the steward
Of the survivors, the plane can only take off with five passengers. The survivors have to decide who returns and who stays in the jungle, which is inhabited by head hunters.

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Musical Monday: Too Many Girls (1940)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Too Many Girls (1940) – Musical #178

Studio: RKO Studios

Director: George Abbott

Starring:
Lucille Ball, Richard Carlson, Ann Miller, Eddie Bracken, Frances Langford, Desi Arnaz, Hal Le Roy, Libby Bennett, Douglas Walton, Harry Shannon, Van Johnson (uncredited), Chief John Big Tree (uncredited), Iron Eyes Cody (uncredited), Harry James (uncredited), Grady Sutton (uncredited)

Plot:
Connie Casey (Ball) is known for her wild reputation so four football players (Carlson, Bracken, Arnaz, Le Roy) are hired by her father to enroll in Pottawatomie College in New Mexico to chaperon her.

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Musical Monday: Du Barry Was a Lady (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:
Du Barry Was a Lady” (1943)– Musical #173

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Roy Del Ruth

Starring:
Red Skelton, Gene Barry, Lucille Ball, Virginia O’Brien, Rags Ragland, Zero Mostel, Louise Beavers, Donald Meek, Ava Gardner (uncredited), Marilyn Maxwell (uncredited), George Carroll (uncredited),
As Themselves: Tommy Dorsey, Lana Turner, Dick Haymes, Jo Stafford

Plot:
All working at the same club, coat check boy Louis Blore (Skelton) and master of ceremonies Alec Howe (Kelly) are both in love with nightclub performer May Daly (Ball), where she sings a song as Madame DuBarry. May is in love with Alec, but she is holding out to marry a rich man. Louis wins $150,000 in a sweepstakes. Then he drinks a drugged drink and dreams that he’s King Louis XV and May is Madame DuBarry.

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Musical Monday: That Girl From Paris (1936)

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.

ADIEU PARIS BONJOUR NEW YORKThis week’s musical:
“That Girl From Paris” –Musical #504

Studio:
RKO

Director:
Leigh Jason

Starring:
Lily Pons, Gene Raymond, Jack Oakie, Herman Bing, Mischa Auer, Frank Jenks, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Dorsey

Plot:
The day of her wedding, French opera star Nicole Martin (Pons) decides she want adventure, rather than marrying the man selected to be her husband. “Nikki” decides she wants adventure and meets up with American singer, bandleader Windy McLean (Raymond) while she is hitchhiking. Windy finds Nikki annoying and sails to America, but Nikki falls in love with him and castaways on the ship. Windy then has trouble on his hands while he avoids arrest for helping hide a stowaway in New York. Windy also has trouble when his girlfriend Claire (Ball) isn’t too fond of Nikki.

Trivia:
-Later remade as “Four Jacks and a Jill” (1942) starring Anne Shirley, June Havoc and Ray Bolger.
-Version of “Street Girl” (1929) starring Betty Compson.

Lucille Ball, Gene Raymond, Jack Oakie, Mischa Auer, Lily Pons and other band members in "That Girl From Paris"

Lucille Ball, Gene Raymond, Jack Oakie, Mischa Auer, Lily Pons and other band members in “That Girl From Paris”

Highlights:
-Lucille Ball’s role.

Notable Songs:
-Love and Learn performed by Jack Oakie
-When You and I Were Young, Maggie performed by Jack Oakie

Behind the scenes photo of Lucille Ball and Lily Pons

Behind the scenes photo of Lucille Ball and Lily Pons

My Review:
“That Girl From Paris” is one of several 1930s and 1940s films that took a page from “It Happened One Night” (1934) — see also “Eve Knew Her Apples” (1945).
Lily Pons runs away from her wedding to find adventure and follows around a man (Raymond) who wants nothing to do with her. I can’t say I blame Gene Raymond, because her character is quite annoying.
The two leads in the films– Lily Pons and Gene Raymond are plain annoying.
The audience is supposed to cheer for Lily Pons to end up with Raymond and live happily ever after, but I honestly feel sorry for Lucille Ball who ends up harassed by Pons and jilted by Raymond.
I found myself enjoying the supporting characters the most. Lucille Ball, Jack Oakie (who wasn’t annoying for once), Mischa Auer and Frank Jenks were much more enjoyable and much less annoying.
“That Girl From Paris” is a run of the mill, low-budget musical filled with high jinks and forgettable songs. Pons does have a beautiful operatic voice, but her annoying character overshadowed that for me.
If you are looking for a runaway bride film just watch “It Happened One Night” instead. If you want a film with good opera music- go the Jane Powell, Deanna Durbin or Jeannette MacDonald route instead.
However, if you are a true Lucille Ball fan looking to watch all of her work, this may be worth your time since she is the only bright spot in this dull film.
I don’t often direct you to not watch a musical, but this one was just too irritating.

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