Musical Monday: Carnival in Costa Rica (1947)

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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Carnival In Costa Rica (1947) – Musical #625

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Gregory Ratoff

Starring:
Dick Haymes, Vera-Ellen, Cesar Romero, Celeste Holm, Anne Revere, J. Carrol Naish, Pedro de Cordoba, Barbara Whiting, Tommy Ivo, Fritz Feld
Themselves: Ernesto Lecuona, Ernesto Zambrano

Plot:
The fathers of Luisa Molina (Vera-Ellen) and Pepe Castro (Romero) have arranged that the two will marry when they return home to Costa Rica from school in the United States. The problem is that Pepe is already in love with American Celeste (Holm), who has returned home with him. And during the carnival, Luisa meets and falls in love with American Jeff Stephens (Haymes).

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Musical Monday: On the Town (1949)

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:
On the Town (1949) – Musical #57

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Starring:
Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Florence Bates, Alice Pearce, Hans Conried (uncredited), Dick Wessel (uncredited)

Plot:
Three sailors have 24-hours shore leave in New York City. Chip (Sinatra) is eager to sight-see, while Gabey (Kelly) and Ozzie (Munshin) want to meet girls. Gabey spots a sign about “Miss Turnstile” (Ellen) and searches for her.

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Musical Monday: Wonder Man (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:
Wonder Man (1945) – Musical #239

Studio:
The Samuel Goldwyn Company, distributed through RKO

Director:
H. Bruce Humberstone

Starring:
Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, Donald Woods, S.Z. Sakall, Allen Jenkins, Steve Cochran, Edward Brophy, Otto Kruger, Natalie Schafer, Richard Lane, Huntz Hall, Edward Gargan, Virginia Gilmore, The Goldwyn Girls

Plot:
Flashy nightclub performer Buzzy Bellew (Kaye) is killed before he can testify against gangster Ten Grand Jackson (Cochran). Buzzy then haunts his bookish twin brother Edwin Dingle (Kaye) to help him.

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Musical Monday: Three Little Girls in Blue (1946)

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:
Three Little Girls In Blue (1946) – Musical #535

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
H. Bruce Humberstone

Starring:
June Haver, George Montgomery, Vivian Blaine, Vera-Ellen, Celeste Holm, Frank Latimore, Charles Smith, Coleen Gray (uncredited), Gary Gray (uncredited), Ruby Dandridge (uncredited)

Plot:
Set in 1902, Pam (Haver), Liz (Blaine) and Myra (Ellen) are three sisters hoping to come into a large inheritance. When their windfall is less than expected, they decide to head to Atlantic City, NJ, to find rich husbands. Pam dresses as an elegant lady while Liz is her secretary and Myra the maid.

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Musical Monday: Happy Go Lovely (1951)

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.

b70-15397This week’s musical:
“Happy Go Lovely” –Musical #125

Studio:
Associated British-Pathé (UK) and RKO Radio Pictures (US)

Director:
H. Bruce Humberstone

Starring:
David Niven, Vera-Ellen, Cesar Romero, Bobby Howes, Diane Hart, Kay Kendall (uncredited)

Plot:
Director John Frost (Romero) is putting on a show in Edenborough, Scotland, but doesn’t have a funds to do it. When a rumor starts that chorus dancer Janet Jones (Vera-Ellen) is engaged to greeting card millionaire B.G. Bruno (Niven), John makes Janet the lead with hopes that Bruno will put money in the show.

Trivia:
-This film was made in Great Britain in attempt to compete with American films and incorporate American pop culture in British films. They did so by starring and directing American talent, according to Popular Music On Screen: From Hollywood Musical to Music Video by John Mundy
-British musical films were struggling. Casting American talent in their films was one strategy to solve this, according to The International Film Musical edited by Corey Creekmur, Linda Mokdad
-When screened in the United States, a gag involving a kilt had to be cut, according to Banned in the U.S.A.: British Films in the United States and their Censorship, 1933-1966 by Anthony Slide.
-Vera-Ellen’s singing was dubbed by Eve Boswell, a singer popular in Great  Britain in the 1950s.

Vera-Ellen and David Niven in "Happy Go Lovely"

Vera-Ellen and David Niven in “Happy Go Lovely”

Notable Songs:
-“One, Two, Three” performed by Vera-Ellen
-“Would You-Could You?” performed by Vera-Ellen

Vera-Ellen and Cesar Romero in "Happy Go Lovely"

Vera-Ellen and Cesar Romero in “Happy Go Lovely”

My Review:
I love this musical.
There are some first time film watching experiences that you remember and sometimes reflect on. “Happy Go Lovely” is one of those for me. Sometimes I randomly remember laying on the couch on a Friday, fall afternoon after coming home from high school. It was the weekend and I was ready to relax with classic films. That film binge started with “Happy Go Lovely.” I loved it then and I love it now.
It’s a silly, and simple plot and it’s largely forgotten. I think that it’s not as recognized today by American audiences since it was made in Great Britain with stars popular in America.
This is a fun little cinderella story that starts with a big misunderstanding and a rumor which eventually becomes reality.
I always enjoy seeing Vera-Ellen on screen. We only had her in films for such a brief time: her career spanned from 1945 to 1957 with only 16 film and TV appearances. She always had a glittering prescience and is one of the best dancers to ever grace the silver screen.
Then we have David Niven. Niven is always charming, humorous and seems sincere in his acting, regardless of the role.
And to top it all off, we have Cesar Romero!
For a little British musical, “Happy Go Lovely” has a fun cast with a few laugh out loud moments and catchy songs. And it’s in Technicolor.
If you enjoy musicals and are looking for a little slice of escapism, this is one of my favorite “go-to’s.”

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Musical Monday: “Call Me Madam” (1953)

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.

Call Me MadamThis week’s musical:
Call Me Madam” –Musical #430

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Walter Lang

Starring:
Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Vera-Ellen, George Sanders, Billy De Wolfe, Helmut Dantine, Walter Slezak

Plot:
Set in 1951 during the Truman-era, socialite Sally Adams (Merman) heads to the fictional European country of Lichtenburg as a United States of America ambassador. Adams’ assistant Kenneth Gibson (O’Connor) falls in love with Princess Maria (Ellen) and Adams falls in love with General Cosmo Constantine (Sanders).
Based on the Broadway play with music by Irving Berlin.

Trivia:
-Film adaptation of the 1950 Broadway play that also starred Ethel Merman. The show opened Oct. 12, 1950, and ran for 644 performances through May 3, 1952. Merman won a Tony for her performance on stage.
-Sally Adams is based on based on Washington, D.C. hostess and Democratic Party fundraiser Perle Mesta. Mesta was selected by Harry Truman to be the American ambassador to Luxembourg. The musical is a satire of the behavior of gauche Americans abroad, according to Hollywood Musicals Year by Year by Stanley Green.
-Carol Richards dubbed Vera-Ellen’s singing voice.
-20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck was making “Call Me Madam” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” at the same time. Zannuck noted in his memoirs “Madam” was a better film but “Blondes” would make more. Blondes did double the gross of Madam, Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck: The Golden Years at Twentieth Century-Fox edited by Rudy Behlmer

Highlights:

Vera-Ellen and Donald O'Connor dancing to "It's a Lovely Day Today"

Vera-Ellen and Donald O’Connor dancing to “It’s a Lovely Day Today”

-George Saunders has a lovely singing voice in “Marrying for Love.”
-Three minutes into the film, Merman almost says “I don’t know what the hell your talking about” but stops herself and repeats the line. “I don’t know what the he- I don’t know what you are talking about.”
-Donald O’Connor and Vera-Ellen’s dance to “It’s a Lovely Day Today” in the garden. And all of their dances together.
-Vera-Ellen’s wardrobe.

Notable Songs:
-Hostess with the Mostest sung by Ethel Merman
-It’s a Lovely Day Today sung by Donald O’Connor and Vera-Ellen. Ellen is dubbed by Carol Richards.
-Marrying for Love sung by George Saunders
-You’re Just In Love sung by Donald O’Connor and Ethel Merman
-Mrs. Sally Adams sung by a trio of ladies answering the phone. Their voices blend beautifully

My Review:
A little bit of Ethel Merman can go a long way, but you can’t deny this is her best film role.
The film was taken from a successful Broadway show that also starred Merman, “Call Me Madam” is colorful and has an excellent cast.
Merman originated several musical roles on stage such as “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Panama Hattie,” “DuBarry was a Lady” and “Gypsy.” However, when the shows went from stage to film, Merman’s role was always recast with a younger, sexier star. However, film audiences get to see Merman in a role she originated on film with “Call Me Madam.” Though to me, her singing voice can be overwhelming, you can tell Merman’s appeal on stage with the energy and humor she shows in the film role.
Also in the film, I would say Donald O’Connor steals the show. He sings and dances beautifully and has the opportunity to sing a duet with Merman. Vera-Ellen also dances beautifully, but her performance is lessened by the terrible accent she has to speak.
George Sanders is a surprise in the musical with his beautiful singing voice.
Though “Call Me Madam” isn’t my favorite musical, its energetic, funny and fun. The Irving Berlin songs are entertaining, the costumes are beautiful and the talent is excellent.

Donald O'Connor, Ethel Merman, George Sander,  Vera-Ellen in "Call Me Madam"

Donald O’Connor, Ethel Merman, George Sander, Vera-Ellen in “Call Me Madam”

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Musical Monday: Three Little Words (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.

This week’s musical:
Three Little Words” (1950) — Musical #280

three little words

Studio:
MGM

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, Vera-Ellen, Arlene Dahl, Keenan Wynn, Gloria DeHaven, Debbie Reynolds, Carleton Carpenter

Plot:
Set in the early 1920s, the movie is a biographical film about Tin Pan Alley songwriters Bert Kalmar (Astaire) and Harry Ruby (Skelton).
Kalmar and his partner Jessie Brown (Vera-Ellen) have a vaudeville act, but he has ambitions of being a magician. After failing at that, Brown and Kalmar have a successful routine until Bert hurts his knee and can’t dance for a year.
Bert hears a song written by Harry Ruby and the two team up to write more music together, eventually writing popular songs, music for films and Broadway plays.

Trivia:
-Actress Gloria DeHaven makes a cameo playing her mother, Flora Parker DeHaven. Flora acted on stage and screen with her husband Carter Davis during the 1920s.
-Songwriters Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar were friends with Fred Astaire, who played Bert Kalmer, during his vaudeville days. Kalmer died in 1947, before the film was made but had agreed to it before his death. Ruby died in 1974. 

The real Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar.

The real Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar.

-Arlene Dahl plays real life actress Eileen Percy. Percy was in films 1917 to 1933. In the film and in real life, Percy and Harry Ruby were married from 1936 until her death in 1973.
-In the film Jesse Brown and Bert Kalmar marry. They did in real life as well but eventually divorced.
-The real Harry Ruby makes a cameo in one of the baseball scenes with Red Skelton.
The dress worn by Gale Robbins in the “All Alone Monday” number is the same dress worn by Ann Miller in the “Girl on the Magazine Cover” in Easter Parade (1948).
-Debbie Reynolds has a cameo in the role of real life actress Helen Kane. Kane dubs Reynolds’s singing.

Debbie Reynolds dressed as Helen Kane with Carleton Carpenter singing "I Wanna Be Loved By You."

Debbie Reynolds dressed as Helen Kane with Carleton Carpenter singing “I Wanna Be Loved By You.”

-Vera-Ellen is dubbed by Anita Ellis

Highlights:
-Gloria DeHaven plays her mother in the film. B
-Debbie Reynolds acts in the role of Helen Kane-who was later the voice of Betty Boop. Reynolds’s singing voice is dubbed by Kane.

Notable Songs:
-“All Alone Monday” sung by Gale Robbins. My favorite song in the film. Though 1930s recordings of the song I came across later were more upbeat and happy sounding, Robbins sang it with a bluesy and mournful feel.
-“Three Little Words” sung by Fred Astaire. The title song isn’t sung or written until the very end of the film but it is the most memorable and leaves you humming after the movie is over.
-“I Wanna Be Loved By You” sung by Debbie Reynolds who is dubbed by Helen Kane, who originated the song. Personally, Kane’s voice grates on my nerves but it is a memorable and famous song.

My Review:

Though parts of this film are fictional-such as the conflict between Bert Kalmer and Harry Ruby- is a good movie as far as biographical pictures go. In many biographical films, the love interest is made up of several different people that the main character had relations with during their career. The love interest also sometimes different name to protect the real life person-examples of this could be Jayne Mansfield’s character in the “George Raft Story” who is supposed to be Betty Grable, or Evelyn Keyes’s character in “The Al Jolson Story,” who is supposed to be Ruby Keeler.
In comparison, both men in this movie were represented with wives that they were involved with in real life.
I also liked the added cameos of people like Gloria DeHaven who plays her mother in the film.
My only beef is that the clothing worn by the female leads isn’t period appropriate and looks more suitable for 1950 and not the 1920s.
In all, “Three Little Words” is an excellent mix of gorgeous Technicolor, excellent dance numbers with Vera-Ellen and Astaire, comedy from Red Skelton and catchy songs.

Red Skelton, Vera-Ellen and Fred Astaire in "Three Little Words"

Red Skelton, Vera-Ellen and Fred Astaire in “Three Little Words”

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