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: Wabash Avenue (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.

wabash-avenue-movie-poster-1950-1020197109This week’s musical:
Wabash Avenue” (1950)– Musical #522

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Henry Koster

Starring:
Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Reginald Gardner, Phil Harris, James Barton, Barry Kelley, Margaret Hamilton

Plot:
In 1892, Ruby Summers (Grable) is the queen of burlesque with her rousing songs, outlandish costumes and shaking of hips. The owner of her dance hall, Mike Stanley (Harris) has cheated Andy Clark (Mature) out of his half ofthe business, and Andy is set to get even. Andy works to ruin Mike’s business and make Ruby into a lady while also making her fall for him.

Trivia:
-Remake of Betty Grable film, “Coney island” (1943), which co-starred George Montgomery and Cesar Romero.
-Josef Myrow and Mack Gordon were nominated for Best Music, Original Song for the song “Wilhelmina”

Notable Songs:
-“I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” performed by Betty Grable
-“May I Tempt You With a Big Red Rosey Apple” performed by Betty Grable
-“Honey Man” performed by Betty Grable
-“Baby Won’t You Say You Love Me” performed by Betty Grable
-“Wilhelmina” performed by Betty Grable

Victor Mature, Betty Grable, Reginald Denny and Phil Harris in

Victor Mature, Betty Grable, Reginald Denny and Phil Harris in “Wabash Avenue.”

My review:
It was rumored that all screenwriters did was take 1943’s “Coney Island,” which also starred Betty Grable, and put a new title page on it to create “Wabash Avenue.”

While I don’t actually think this is the case, “Wabash Avenue” is very similar and nearly is a scene-by-scene remake. I’m not sure why 20th Century Fox decided to remake the same film with the same lead actress, but it’s almost a little off putting.

However, in any film with Betty Grable, it’s difficult not to be drawn to her energetic delivery of a song and dance and “Wabash Avenue” is no exception. In this film, Grable’s Technicolor costumes and songs are fantastic and entertaining.

I of course still enjoyed this film, because I also liked “Coney Island,” but of the two, I prefer “Coney Island” due to the superior male co-stars of Cesar Romero and George Montgomery.

It’s hard to believe that Betty Grable would have anything romantic with Phil Harris-also if you have knowledge of Grable’s friendship with his wife Alice Faye. Though Victor Mature is believable for a grifting cad.

However, “Wabash Avenue” still offers Technicolor fun, regardless of its puzzling similarities to “Coney Island.”

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Musical Monday: “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of 10 years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

One-Sunday-Afternoon-1948This week’s musical:
“One Sunday Afternoon” –Musical #494

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Raoul Walsh

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Don DeFore, Dorothy Malone, Janis Paige, Ben Blue, Oscar O’Shea, Alan Hale Jr.

Plot:
Set in the late 1800s, every man in town has their eye on beautiful Virginia Brush (Paige), including small town dentist Biff Grimes (Morgan) and his best friend Hugo Barnstead (DeFore).
The two are invited by Viriginia on a double date with her suffragette nurse friend Amy (Malone).Though Amy is sweet and pretty, Biff is unhappy that he is “stuck” with Amy.
Hugo wins over and Virgina and the two marry, and Biff ends up marrying Amy.
A few years later, Hugo and Virginia return to town, and Hugo gets Biff involved in his business. Hugo double-crosses Biff, who has to go to jail. When he gets out, Biff hopes to get revenge on Hugo.

Trivia:
-Version of earlier films “One Sunday Afternoon” (1933) starring Gary Cooper and Fay Wray and “The Strawberry Blonde” (1941) with James Cagney, Olivia DeHavilland and Rita Hayworth.
-All three films are based on the play “One Sunday Afternoon,” which opened in 1933 at the Little Theater in New York and ran more than 300 performances.
-Director Raoul Walsh originally wanted to cast Dane Clark as Biff (Morgan’s role), Eleanor Parker as Virginia (Paige’s role) and Donna Reed as Amy (Malone’s role), according to the book “Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood’s Legendary Director” by Marilyn Ann Moss.
-Walsh also wanted to cast Virginia Mayo as Virginia, but Warner cast Paige instead, angering Walsh, according to Moss’s book.
-Doris Day tested for the role of Amy, according to Moss’s book.
-Dorothy Malone is dubbed by Marion Morgan.

Hugo and Biff go on a bikeride with Virginia and Amy in "One Sunday Afternoon" (1948).

Hugo and Biff go on a bikeride with Virginia and Amy in “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948).

Notable Songs:
-One Sunday Afternoon performed by Dennis Morgan

My Review:
For better or worse, I can now say I have seen every film version of “One Sunday Afternoon” (okay, except for a 1959 TV special starring Janet Blair and David Wayne.)
Of the 1933 version starring Gary Cooper, the 1941 version starring James Cagney and this one- I would rank “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948) as the least enjoyable of the three films.
“The Strawberry Blonde” (1941) would be my favorite. It has it all: an excellent cast including Cagney, Jack Carson, Rita Hayworth and Olivia de Havilland; charm; humor and the end even includes a sing-a-long of “The Band Plays On.”
“The Strawberry Blonde” was one of Warner Brother’s top hits of 1941 and director Raoul Walsh considered it one of his favorite films.
When Walsh was assigned the musical remake of his favorite film, he was uncertain, according to Marilyn Ann Moss’s book on Walsh.
Walsh felt Warner Brothers was getting a reputation for remakes and Warner continued cutting costs on the 1948 film, with is probably partially why top actresses like Virginia Mayo and Eleanor Parker were not cast, according to Moss’s book.

Publicity photo of Dorothy Malone and Dennis Morgan for "One Sunday Afternoon."

Publicity photo of Dorothy Malone and Dennis Morgan for “One Sunday Afternoon.”

Though filming went smoothly, it wasn’t the same happy experience for Walsh as he had with Cagney, Hayworth, Carson and De Havilland, Moss wrote.
For me, it’s another case of the impossible task of trying to improve on perfection. With such a fun story, the 1948 version of “One Sunday Afternoon” is lackluster compared to the other two. I feel the cast and the addition of forgettable music contributed to this being a dud.
Dennis Morgan, who I love, couldn’t even save this film with his smooth singing voice and good looks as leading man Biff Grimes.
Don DeFore is fine as the heel Hugo Barnstead, but it would have been fun to see Dennis Morgan with his frequent co-star Jack Carson. Carson would have been reprising his role from “The Strawberry Blonde.”
I like Janis Paige as an actress, and she had the right amount of sex appeal and sass for the role of Virginia, but I felt like something was lacking.
Dorothy Malone (still a brunette) seemed like the only person trying to develop her character and was sweet and adorable (this was before she became a Hollywood sex pot) but just wasn’t quite as appealing as Olivia De Havilland in the role.
Walking away from the film, I couldn’t tell you anything about any of the songs, because they were that forgettable. Dennis Morgan sang an Irish song, which shouldn’t be surprising for anyone who has watched several Morgan films.
I don’t mean to be so negative about the musical remake of “One Sunday Afternoon.”
When I rewatched this film, I was positive I had seen it before. But then remembered I stopped it half way two times prior to viewing over the years because I thought it was so dumb.
Maybe if I saw this version before the other two, it would have ranked higher in my book. I also feel with stronger leading ladies previously mentioned in the trivia such as Donna Reed, Eleanor Parker or Virgina Mayo could have been a much better film.
However, it just doesn’t cut the mustard for me in the way of entertainment.

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