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

Plot:
Radio star Eve Porter (Miller) wants a three-week vacation during the radio show’s summer hiatus — away from work and her fiancé (Williams). However, her managers have other plans in mind, including personal appearances and Hollywood films. Eve runs away, hiding in the car trunk of reporter Ward Williams (Wright), who mistakes her for an escaped murderer.

Ann Miller as Eve hiding out from her manager

Trivia:
-Musical remake of “It Happened One Night” (1934) starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable. It was later remade again as a musical called “You Can’t Run Away From It” (1956) starring Jack Lemmon and June Allyson.

Notable Songs:
-“An Hour Never Passes” performed by Ann Miller
-“I’ll Remember April” performed by Ann Miller
-“I’ve Waited a Lifetime” performed by Ann Miller
-“Someone to Love” performed by Ann Miller

My review:
The musical remake is an interesting film phenomenon. A perfectly outstanding film — whether it’s a comedy, drama or western — is taken and set to singing and dancing. In this case, the hilarious and seemingly perfect comedy, “It Happened One Night.”

But while most musical remakes flop, “Eve Knew Her Apples” is still fairly fun. I think it’s because this film is so watered down from the original that “Eve Knew Her Apples” becomes its own B-movie rather than a remake.

The plot idea is similar but some of the main scenes from “It Happened One Night” are omitted, also making “Eve Knew Her Apples” its own film. Scenes not in the remake include the “Walls of Jericho” scene, hitchhiking or doughnut dunking scenes.

Ann Miller and William Wright in Eve Knew Her Apples

This musical is different compared to the “musical theater musical” idea that is stuck in most people’s heads today. Ann Miller is a radio performer in the film and she sings a few romantic songs, but the songs aren’t related to the plot or move the plot along. The general definition of musicals (especially in the theater to film age) is that the performer sings when they have no more words to express their feelings. However, in the 1930s and 1940s, the actors generally sang of the sake of singing.

Ann Miller sings four or five songs throughout the film but does not show off her famous tap dancing skills at all.

The leading man William Wright is adequate but nothing to write home about. In the 1940s (particularly during the war years), an actor named John Carroll was the poor-man’s Clark Gable while Gable was overseas fighting in World War II. Wright isn’t even a poor-man’s Gable, he’s a poor-man’s John Carroll!

This story was later remade again in 1956 as a musical with June Allyson and Jack Lemmon. And that one is terrible, but we will go into that in another post.

Regardless of the fact that “Eve Knew Her Apples” is a story we already know, it’s still a fun little film. At 65 minutes long, it’s brisk paced, has some interesting songs and genuinely a good time.

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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 (1940)– 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