Musical Monday: The Girl Most Likely (1958)

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 Girl Most Likely (1958) – Musical #96

Studio:
RKO Pictures

Director:
Mitchell Leisen

Starring:
Jane Powell, Cliff Robertson, Keith Andes, Una Merkel, Kaye Ballard, Tommy Noonan, Frank Cady, Judy Nugent, Kelly Brown

Plot:
Dodie (Powell) is a dreamer who wants to get married to a millionaire. Her real-estate boyfriend Buzz (Noonan) proposes after he gets a raise, and she uncertainly accepts. Shortly after she meets Pete (Robertson), who she believes is a millionaire but is only a mechanic. She enjoys Pete’s company, and then meets a real millionaire, Neil Patterson, Jr. (Andres), which is what she has always dreamed of. With proposals from all three men, Dodie then has to pick which man she wants to marry.

Trivia:
– Remake of Tom, Dick and Harry (1941), starring Ginger Rogers
– Jane Powell’s last musical film
– This was the last film produced by RKO and was distributed by Universal Pictures. It was released two years after it was made.
– Kaye Ballard’s first feature film
– Director Mitchell Leisen last film he directed. After this, he directed on television.
– In November 1956, the Los Angeles Times reported that Carol Channing was to co-star as Powell’s best friend, but Channing was not in the film.
– Tommy Noonan is dubbed by Robert C. Oates
– Cliff Robertson is dubbed by Hal Derwin

Jane Powell with Tommy Noonan, Cliff Robertson and Keith Andes in “The Girl Most Likely”

Highlights:
– The pink clouds with angels singing when Jane Powell gets kissed

Notable Songs:
– “The Girl Most Likely” performed by a the Hi-Los over the credits
– “I Don’t Know What I Want” performed by Jane Powell

My review:
Jane Powell is a favorite of mine, but “The Girl Most Likely” is far from her best film, yet it still holds a certain charm because of Jane.

The problem with “The Girl Most Likely” is that it would have been better as a straight comedy. The songs, which mainly manifest themselves in dream sequences, are lousy. The worst are “We Gotta Keep Up With the Joneses,” a frantic dream sequence about keeping up with your neighbors; and “Crazy Horse,” where Jane and Cliff Robertson are dressed as Indians and she imagines having his six children.

While some of the songs are terrible and drag on, the film is very colorful and pretty costumes designed by Renié. This is also another musical remake of a 1940s comedy. It reworks “Tom, Dick and Harry” (1941) which starred Ginger Rogers, Burgess Meredith, George Muphry and Alan Marshall.

“The Girl Most Likely” marked the end for many things. It attempts one last hoorah of the musical era when it was dying fast.

It was Jane Powell’s last musical and her second to last film. She had performed in musicals at MGM since 1946, had left MGM. It also marked the last film directed by Michell Leisen, who opted to direct television in the 1960s.

And it was the end of RKO, which was created in 1928. “The Girl Most Likely” was the last movie filmed at RKO. The film was then distributed by Universal. While filming was going on, offices were closing up at RKO and construction crews would ask director Mitchell Leisen if he was done with an area so they could start tearing it down.

While this musical marks the end of careers and a studio era, it still is rather light and colorful. It’s sad to see a glittering career like Jane Powell come to an end, but even her last (and perhaps worst) film is better than the final films of her contemporaries.

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Musical Monday: Eve Knew Her Apples (1945)

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:
Eve Knew Her Apples (1945)– Musical #282

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Will Jason

Starring:
Ann Miller, William Wright, Robert Williams, Charles D. Brown, Ray Walker

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Musical Monday: Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)

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.

nancy goes to rioThis week’s musical:
Nancy Goes to Rio (1950) – Musical #59

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
Jane Powell, Ann Sothern, Barry Sullivan, Carmen Miranda, Louis Calhern, Scotty Beckett, Hans Conreid, Fortunio Bonanova

Plot:
Francis Elliott (Sothern) is a famous stage star and her teenage daughter Nancy (Powell) wants to follow in her footsteps. Along with wanting the same part in an exciting new play, mother and daughter both fall in love with the same man, Paul Berten (Sullivan).

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Musical Monday: It’s a Date (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

date2This week’s musical:
It’s a Date (1940)– Musical #116

Studio:
Universal Pictures

Director:
William A. Seiter

Starring:
Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Eugene Pallette, Henry Stephenson, S.Z. Sakall, Charles Lane, John Arledge (uncredited)

Plot:
Georgia Drake (Francis) is a famous stage star and her teenage daughter Pamela (Durbin) wants to follow in her footsteps. Along with wanting the same part in an exciting new play, mother and daughter both fall in love with the same man- John Arlendge (Pidgeon).

Trivia:
-Remade as “Nancy Goes to Rio” (1950) starring Jane Powell, Ann Sothern and Barry Sullivan.
-S.Z. Sakall’s first American film

Highlights:
-Deanna Durbin’s songs
-Kay Francis appearing in the film
-Walter Pidgeon in white dinner coats

Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin play mother and daughter in "It's a Date"

Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin play mother and daughter in “It’s a Date”

Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon and Deanna Durbin in "It's a Date"

Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon and Deanna Durbin in “It’s a Date”

Notable Songs:
Loch Lomond performed by Deanna Durbin
Ave Maria (Op.52 No.1) performed by Deanna Durbin
Love Is All performed by Deanna Durbin

My review:
“It’s a Date” is a movie date you want to keep.

Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis and Walter Pidgeon as the leads with a Eugene Pallette, Henry Stephenson and S.Z. Sakall as the supporting cast. Could you ask for a better group of actors?

Francis, Durbin and Pidgeon in "It's a Date"

Francis, Durbin and Pidgeon in “It’s a Date”

I saw this movie for the first time in high school and don’t remember being in love with the film. However, I wasn’t as immersed in my Kay Francis film love and not yet in love with Walter Pidgeon, which makes a difference. Now, when I rewatched it, it was such a thrill to see Francis later in her career flanked by Walter Pidgeon as her leading man.

Kay Francis was one of Warner Brothers’ top stars in the early 1930s before Bette Davis came on the scene. According to TCM historian Robert Osborne, to make Francis break her contract, they put her put her in terrible films and filled scripts with words full of “R’s”— a letter she had difficulties with due to a speech impediment. However, Francis didn’t back down and continued acting. With that said, her later film roles weren’t anything to write home about her Francis’s film career ended in 1946. Though “It’s a Date” is towards end of Francis’s career, she is radiant in this film and it’s a wonderful part for her.

S.Z. Sakall and Kay Francis on the set of "It's a Date"

S.Z. Sakall and Kay Francis on the set of “It’s a Date”

The plot is a little goofy: a teenage daughter falls in love with a man more than twice her age. For a little while, the audience is made to believe that he loves her too. But don’t worry, this film has a non-creepy ending.

There are several laugh out loud moments — some coming from S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall in his first American film. The Hungarian actor left Europe due to Hitler and the growing power of the Third Reich and bestowed his comedic talents on United States audiences.

Deanna Durbin plays a teenager with a wish to be an actress like her mother and grandmother. Her character is a little overly dramatic, as teenagers can be, but it’s humorous at the same time. She delivers many beautiful songs throughout the film and you can see tears in her eyes as she sings “Ave Maria.”

For someone not familiar with Deanna Durbin, this is a good film to start with if you are interested in diving in. It’s a wonderful blend of music, comedy that’s filled with handsome Walter Pidgeon in white evening coats and Kay Francis in lavish evening gowns.

Give this one a watch.

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