Musical Monday: “Something to Sing About” (1937)

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.

something2This week’s musical:
“Something to Sing About” (1937) – Musical #439

Studio:
Grand National Pictures

Director:
Victor Schertzinger

Starring:
James Cagney, Evelyn Daw, William Frawley, Mona Barrie, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart

Plot:
New York bandleader and dancer Terry Rooney (Cagney) goes to Hollywood where they try to remold him into a star. Terry marries his sweetheart and singer of his band, Rita Wyatt (Daw). When they return from their honeymoon they find that Rooney’s contract says that he can’t be married.

Trivia:
-Victor Schertzinger directed, wrote the story and composed the score for “Something to Sing About”
-This film was made at Grand National Pictures, which was known for their B movies. “Something to Sing About” was one of Grand National’s last films and was known as the film that broke the low budget film studio. Hoping James Cagney’s star power would make them a hit, they spent a large sum of money on it and the film flopped. The studio closed in 1939.

Awards and Nominations:
-Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Score by C. Bakaleinikoff (musical director), Score by Victor Schertzinger.

Highlights:
-James Cagney tap dancing, especially at the beginning while instruments micmick what he’s tapping on

Notable Songs:
-“Something to Sing About” performed by Evelyn Daw

My review:
“Something to Sing About” is a light but entertaining film. It’s more of a comedy than a musical, but it’s one of those rare films (i.e. Yankee Doodle Dandy, Footlight Parade) that we have the opportunity to see James Cagney dance.

I enjoy films about Hollywood and this one fits the bill. There are humorous scenes of trying to get Cagney to speak in “pear shaped tones,” dressing him and giving him a new hairstyle. The studio also hides his marriage and a publicity agent cooks up a romance with a leading lady.

something

James Cagney and Evelyn Daw

Evelyn Daw is a sweet leading lady but she was only in two films. While her prescience is pleasant, it’s not particularly memorable. “Something to Sing About” was her first film and 1938’s Panamint’s Bad Man was her last film. She has a beautiful, strong operatic voice and was discovered by the director of this film, Victor Schertzinger. There is little more biographical information to be found on Miss Daw, other than the fact that she retired from singing and films when she married her husband, Steward Smith.

“Something to Sing About” flopped and was a partial result to Grand National Pictures shutting down in 1939, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. It is fairly funny and a brisk watch. I revisited this the same weekend I watched some very dramatic mid-1960s films and it was a nice bit of levity.

While “Something to Sing About” isn’t a great film, it does also give you the opportunity to see James Cagney dance which is always a glorious sight to see.

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