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: The West Point Story (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: The West Point Story (1950) – Musical #336

Studio: Warner Brothers

Director: Roy Del Ruth

Starring: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae, Doris Day, Gene Nelson, Alan Hale Jr., Roland Winters, Jerome Cowan

Plot:
Broadway director Bix Bixby (Cagney) is down on his luck because he has a problem with betting on horse races. Gambling prevents him from getting a good show and from marrying his sweetheart Eve (Mayo). Bixby is persuaded by a producer to help put on an all-male show at West Point Military Academy because the producer wants his nephew, Tom (MacRae) to leave the Academy and come perform on Broadway. Coming from a show business background, Bixby has a hard time understanding the cadets and their schedules. He’s thrown off campus and is only allowed to come back if he enrolls as a cadet.

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Musical Monday: Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (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.

paintingThis week’s musical:
Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (1951)– Musical #409

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Virginia Mayo, Gene Nelson, Lucille Norman, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Virginia Gibson, Tom Conway, Wallace Ford

Plot:
Vince (Morgan) has a gambling problem and his girlfriend Abby (Norman) has had enough and leaves for Las Vegas with her two singing partners, Carol (Mayo) and June (Gibson). The three are in search for millionaires, but one follows him there: millionaire dancer Ted Lansing (Nelson). However, Ted’s family isn’t keen on him marrying a performer.

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Back to School Musical Monday: She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952)

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:

She’s Working Her Way Through College” –Musical #395

college

Studio:
Warner Brothers Studios

Director:
H. Bruce Humberstone

Starring:
Virginia Mayo, Ronald Reagan, Gene Nelson, Phyllis Thaxter, Don DeFore, Patrice Wymore, Roland Winters, Phyllis Kirk (uncredited), Julie Newmar (uncredited)

Plot:
Burlesque star Angela Gardner (Mayo), who has a stage name of Hot Garters Gertie, saved up her money from working on the stage to get a college education. She was inspired to further her education by her high school teacher John Palmer (Reagan).
On her last night at the burlesque, Angela runs into John, who is now a college professor at Midwest. She decides to further her education at his college, as long as he keeps her secret that she was a dancer on the stage.

virginiamayo14Trivia:
-Remake of the 1942 Warner Brothers film “The Male Animal” starring Henry Fonda, Olivia De Havilland, Joan Leslie and Jack Carson.
-Don DeFore stars in both the original “The Male Animal” and the remake.
-Virginia Mayo was dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams.
-Though the two films have no plot connection, She’s Back on Broadway is supposedly a sequel to “She’s Working Her Way Through College” (1952). The only connection is the Mayo and Nelson re-teaming. Comet reviewed “She’s Back on Broadway” in November.
-I think this film is somehow supposed to be connected to “She’s Back on Broadway”
-Gene Nelson is dubbed by Hal Derwin in the “That’s The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” number, but he does his own singing in all the other numbers.

Highlights:
-Gene Nelson’s mix of dancing and athletics in the “Am I In Love” number in the gym.

Notable Songs:
-“We’re Working Our Way Through College” sung by Chorus, Virginia Mayo-dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams and Gene Nelson
-“Plenty of Money and You” sung by (dubbed) Virginia Mayo
-“I’ll Be Loving You” sung by (dubbed) Virginia Mayo and Gene Nelson

Ronald Reagan and Phyllis Thaxter play husband and wife in "She's Working Her Way Through College."

Ronald Reagan and Phyllis Thaxter play husband and wife in “She’s Working Her Way Through College.”

My Review:
Both the play and 1942 film “The Male Animal” were comedies mixed with the issue of free speech.
In the original film, Henry Fonda plays an college English professor whose job is on the line when he wants to read Bartolomeo Vanzetti’s sentencing statement as an example of free speech.
But this musical remake is a white washed version of that story.
Rather than an English professor, Reagan plays a theater professor, and the controversy here is that he wants to put on a musical rather than a Shakespeare play.
While writing and playing the lead in the college musical, Virginia Mayo is trying to keep it a secret that she was once a burlesque queen.
When this secret is let out by jealous Patrice Wymore (why does she always play mean dames?), Reagan’s job is on the line because a burlesque star is starring in his play. It’s Reagan’s job to deliver the news that she is going to be expelled (for dancing on the stage?), which he refuses.
The real issue is that the dean offered Mayo a fur coat after a burlesque performance and she refused him, so now he’s seeking revenge.
But all of the drama and conflict doesn’t happen until the last 20 minutes of the film.
The rest of the hour and forty-five minute film is Gene Nelson trying to romance Virginia Mayo, Don DeFore romancing Reagan’s wife Phyllis Thaxter, Patrice Wymore being jealous and Mayo performing songs from the upcoming play.
The songs that sprinkle throughout the film include lyrics such as: “She’s working her way through college, to get a lot of knowledge, that she’ll probably never ever use again.”
The movie unsurprisingly pales in comparison to the original film. But the worst part is that it’s rather boring.

Cast photo of Ronald Reagan, Virginia Mayo, Don DeFore, Phyllis Thaxter, Gene Nelson, Patrice Wymore

Cast photo of Ronald Reagan, Virginia Mayo, Don DeFore, Phyllis Thaxter, Gene Nelson, Patrice Wymore

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Musical Monday: “She’s Back on Broadway” (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.

This week’s musical:
She’s Back on Broadway” (1953) — Musical #450

broadway

Studio:
Warner Brothers Pictures

Director:
Gordon Douglas

Starring:
Virginia Mayo, Gene Nelson, Frank Lovejoy, Steve Cochran, Patrice Wymore

Plot:
Hollywood actress Catherine Terris (Mayo) finds her film career is declining. She decides to return to Broadway where she started out to get a fresh start. The director of the musical play is Rick Sommers (Cochran), who Catherine had a relationship with during her stage days. However, he has been bitter ever since she left six years before to go to Hollywood. The two clash during rehearsal and nearly ruin the play.

Cochran and Mayo in a publicity photo for "She's Back on Broadway"

Cochran and Mayo in a publicity photo for “She’s Back on Broadway”

Trivia:
-Virginia Mayo is dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams
-Though the two films have no plot connection, She’s Back on Broadway is supposedly a sequel to “She’s Working Her Way Through College” (1952), which is a remake of “The Male Animal” (1942). The only connection is the Mayo and Nelson re-teaming.

Notable Songs:
I’m not left humming any of the songs from this film but I would say “I’ll Take You” performed by Gene Nelson and Virginia Mayo is the most memorable.

Highlights:
-The audition montage at the beginning of the film for the play including dancer and goofy male singers.

My Review:
Musical films about musical theater are interesting. The play being performed in “She’s Back on Broadway” is called “Breakfast in Bed.” There is one song called “Breakfast in Bed” but other songs include a Latin dance vibe, a song about Mardi Gras and then a few romantic ballads. Numbers within the musical play don’t make sense to have an actual story line, so I guess we are supposed to assume it’s a musical revue.
She’s Back on Broadway” is a run of the mill, early 1950s Warner Brothers musical-several songs mixed with some melodrama and filmed in Warnercolor.
Whether it’s Doris Day in “Lullaby of Broadway” or Virginia Mayo on this, they are all relatively similar with Gene Nelson dancing somewhere in the background. Steve Cochran plays his usual moody role in this as well.
Not to say that these colorful musicals aren’t mildly entertaining, but they are rather forgettable.

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