Musical Monday: Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)

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:
Two Girls and A Sailor (1944) – Musical #120

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Starring:
June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Van Johnson, Tom Drake, Jimmy Durante, Henry Stephenson, Henry O’Neill, Donald Meek, Frank Jenks, Frank Sully, Karin Booth (uncredited), Ava Gardiner (uncredited), Natalie Draper (uncredited), Gigi Perreau (uncredited), Arthur Walsh (uncredited)

Themselves: Carlos Ramírez, Ben Blue, José Iturbi, Amparo Iturbi, Harry James, Helen Forrest, Xavier Cugat, Lina Romay, Gracie Allen, Lena Horne, Virginia O’Brien, Lyn Wilde, Lee Wilde, Albert Coates

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Musical Monday: Tonight and Every Night (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.

tonightThis week’s musical:
“Tonight and Every Night” (1945)– Musical #181

Studio:
Columbia

Director:
Victor Saville

Starring:
Rita Hayworth, Janet Blair, Lee Bowman, Marc Platt, Leslie Brooks, Florence Bates, Professor Lamberti, Shelly Winters (uncredited)

Plot:
Told as a retrospective story to a LIFE magazine reporter, a theater in London never closed or missed a performance during the German blitz in London throughout World War II. The stars of the show were Rosalind Bruce (Hayworth), Judy Kane (Blair) and Tommy Lawson (Platt) are the stars of the show. Rosalind is an American and ends up falling in love with British flyer Paul Lundy (Bowman).

Trivia:
-Loosely based on the Windmill Theatre in London, which never closed during World War II and the German blitz
-Rita Hayworth took time off after filming “Tonight and Every Night” to have her baby, daughter Rebecca, who she had with Orson Welles, according to a “Movie of the Week” feature in the Feb. 12, 1945, issue of LIFE magazine.
-Originally was set to be a drama with Ida Lupino and Merle Oberon. After Hayworth’s success in “Cover Girl,” Columbia cast Hayworth in the film instead and made it into a musical, according to Turner Classic Movie Host Ben Mankiewicz.
-Because Rita Hayworth was pregnant during the filming, costume designer Jean Louis had to find creative ways to hide her pregnancy.
-Based on the play “Heart of a City.”
-Choreographed by Jack Cole, who dances during the number “What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?”
-Rita Hayworth was dubbed by Martha Mears

Highlights:
-Rita Hayworth’s “You Excite Me” number, choreographed by Jack Cole
-Marc Platt’s dancing, particularly when he is auditioning

Notable Songs:
-“Tonight and Every Night” performed by Janet Blair, the cast and Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“You Excite Me” performed by Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“The Boy I Left Behind” performed by Janet Blair, Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears
-“What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?” performed by Rita Hayworth, dubbed by Martha Mears (mainly notable for the dancing.)
-“Anywhere” performed by Janet Blair

My review: (with vague SPOILERS)
“Tonight and Every Night” is my favorite Rita Hayworth film. This is a fairly forgotten and underrated musical, which is a shame. “Tonight and Every Night” explodes with gorgeous Technicolor and has a few fantastic dance numbers choreographed by Jack Cole.

This isn’t your average fluffy musical. I think what I like best about this lively film is that it’s set during World War II and mixes musical comedy with a serious theme: the German blitz on England during World War II. The story line focuses on a theater in London vowing never to close or end a performance during the Blitz. This plot makes the film interesting and gives it weight. In the film, the actors even decide to make a dormitory out of the theater, sleeping in dressing rooms and making a little canteen. Rita Hayworth’s romance with Lee Bowman is more of a subplot to this than a main focus. (SLIGHT SPOILER) “Tonight and Every Night” also takes very sad and serious turn at the end that leaves me in tears every time. Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz said 1945 audiences were unprepared and shocked by an ending that wasn’t happy. Most musicals from the dawn of sound to the 1950s didn’t leave the audience sad. Out of the pre-1959 musicals I have seen, this is the only one that leaves me sad.

Mankiewicz also said that this film originally wasn’t intended to be a musical and was going to star Ida Lupino and Merle Oberon. While I can picture how this film would have played out, I am happy that it ended up being a musical — even if Rita Hayworth was dubbed.

While singing may not have been a strong suite of Hayworth’s, her dancing is superb. I often find that Hayworth’s dancing skills are overlooked, as she’s often remembered for film noirs like “The Lady from Shanghai” or “Gilda.” However, I would list her in the top 10 best dancers in Hollywood of the classic era. Her best dance numbers in this film are “You Excite Me” and “What Does an English Girl Think of a Yank?”

Another fantastic dancer in this film is Marc Platt. Not a well-known name, Platt was also one of the brothers in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and danced in “Oklahoma.” This seems to be one of the few films that he had a speaking role in. Most notably in this film, Platt auditions for Florence Bates dancing to classical, opera, boogie woogie and a Hitler speech.

Also in the film is Janet Blair who is beautiful to look at and has a lovely singing voice. She and Rita Hayworth compliment each other well on-screen.

“Tonight and Every Night” will maybe make you laugh and smile, and maybe even cry, but it’s a fast-moving Technicolor marvel that you shouldn’t miss.

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Musical Monday: Reveille with Beverly (1943)

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.

beverly4This week’s musical:
Reveille With Beverly (1943)– Musical #323

Studio:
Columbia

Director:
Charles Barton

Starring:
Ann Miller, William Wright, Dick Purcell, Andrew Tombes, Franklin Pangborn, Adele Mara, Douglas Leavitt, Barbara Brown, Larry Parks, Doodles Weaver (uncredited), Irene Ryan (uncredited), Lee and Lynn Wilde
As themselves:

  • Bob Crosby and his orchestra
  • Freddie Slack and his orchestra with Ella Mae Morse
  • Duke Ellington
  • Count Bassie
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Mills Brothers
  • The Radio Rogues

Plot:
A switchboard operator, Beverly Ross (Miller), at the local radio station KFEL has dreams of having her own jive radio show. She eventually gets her own time slot and features all of the top jive music. While on the radio, Beverly catches ear (and eye) of soldier Barry Lang (Wright), who is wealthy and switches places with his chauffeur buddy Andy Adams (Purcell) to see if he can win Beverly without his millions.

Andrew Tombes and Ann Miller in "Revellie with Beverly"

Andrew Tombes and Ann Miller in “Revellie with Beverly”

Trivia:
-The film is based off the radio show Reveille with Beverly which was hosted by Jean Ruth Hay. Jean Hay served as technical adviser to the film and narrates the trailer for the film.

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Highlights:
-All of the musical performances

Notable Songs:
-“Cow Cow Boogie” performed by Ella Mae Morse
-“Big Noise from Winnetka” performed by Bob Crosby and his Bobcat Orchestra, singers Lyn and Lee Wilde
-“Take the A Train” performed by Duke Ellington, sung by Betty Roche
-“One O’Clock Jump” performed by Count Bassie
-“Night and Day” performed by Frank Sintra

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My review:
“Reveille with Beverly” is one of those guilty pleasure musicals. It has very little plot but for fans of 1940s big band and jive, it’s a dream.

“Reveille with Beverly” is based on a real radio show called “Reveille with Beverly” which was DJed be a young lady named Jean Ruth Hay. The Los Angeles radio show was on the air from 1941 to 1944 for soldiers fighting in World War II. They could hear it on ships, fighting or in the air.

Advertisement for Jean Ruth Hay's radio show.

Advertisement for Jean Ruth Hay’s radio show.

The idea of the radio show came when soldiers Jean knew said they hated starting their day with the blast of a bugle. Hay also said that government officials would sometimes provide a script to read which included names of songs that didn’t exist. These scripts turned out to be code for the French Underground. Hay even married bandleader Freddie Slack, who is featured in this film.

The real show is merely a premise for the plot and all else is fictional. The movie has multiple laugh-out-loud funny scenes, particularly with Franklin Pangborn who is furious that Beverly’s show is in his time slot. While there is a bit of a plot, the majority of the film are musical performances of 1943 hits. When Beverly’s record starts spinning, we’re transported to a video of Bob Crosby and his band or Duke Ellington performing “Take the A Train” on a train.

All the songs had me dancing in my seat. I saw this movie for the first time in 2009 and it introduced me to Ella Mae Morse, who I wasn’t familiar with prior. Now she is one of my favorites.

Admittedly, there may be some who don’t enjoy this style of movie. If you aren’t interested in a string of jive musical numbers, you should probably stay away.

This isn’t your usual Ann Miller film, who was still early in her career. Ann only tap dances once and it’s a patriotic number at the end of the film.

Just writing this review makes me want to watch “Reveille with Beverly” again. It’s a brief hour and 18 minutes that will leave you dancing and humming by the end.

Ann Miller in her tap dancing finale.

Ann Miller in her tap dancing finale.

If anyone knows where to listen to some of Jean Ruth Hay’s original broadcasts, leave me a message! I would love to hear them.

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