Musical Mondays: Rose of Washington Square (1939)

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, I’m starting a weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Rose of Washington Square” (1939)- Musical #462

Alice Faye, Tyrone Power, Al Jolson, William Frawley, Joyce Compton

Gregory Ratoff

Twentieth Century Fox

Set in the 1920s, Rose (Faye) and Ted (Jolson) dream of becoming singing stars. While Ted’s career takes off, Rose works her way up while singing in speakeasies. Then Rose meets and falls in love with gambling, con-artist Bart (Power). Bart has trouble with the law but somehow keeps his troubles away from her. When Rose is discovered by Ziegfeld and makes it big on Broadway, she and Bart marry but he disappears because of trouble with the law.

The plot of this film strongly resembled Fanny Brice’s relationship with Jules W. Arndt Stein. Faye even sings Brice’s signature song “My Man.”

Alice Faye as Rose falls in love with gambler Tyrone Power who plays Bart.

Alice Faye as Rose falls in love with gambler Tyrone Power who plays Bart.

Brice sued 20th Century Fox for $750,000 and the studio settled with Brice for an undisclosed amount, according to the Biography documentary on Alice Faye.

The publicity made “Rose of Washington Square the biggest musical hit of 1939.

Notable songs:
-Al Jolson sings his signature songs “My Mammy,” “Toot, Toot, Tootsie” and “California, Here I Come”

-Alice Faye sings Fanny Brice’s signature ballad “My Man”

-Louis Prima has an appearance playing the trumpet as Alice Faye sings. Not only is it always great to have a Prima appearance in a film, but Faye later married Phil Harris who performed with Prima in Disney’s “The Jungle Book.”

-When Alice Faye sings “Rose of Washington Square” specialty dancers Igor and Tanya perform a dizzying dance. Also dancers sing and dance as they smoke a cigarette, toss the cigarette and another appears in their hand.

"Rose of Washington Square" cigarette dancing

“Rose of Washington Square” cigarette dancing

My review:
Alice Faye once said, “My voice was deeper than the plot” of many of her movies and this applies to “Rose of Washington Square.”

I love Alice Faye and will watch her in anything, but my favorite part was getting to see her perform with Louis Prima. Though Jolson was in black face, it was interesting to see him perform several of the songs that made him famous.

The movie was released during Hollywood’s best year, has a stellar cast and well-known songs, but it lacks something. Aside from the Brice vs. 20th Century Fox publicity, it is a run of the mill singer-trying-to-make-it-big musical.

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