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'Rainbow Girls' has just opened and closed on Broadway when Dixie, a actress in it, runs into smooth talking Hollywood Director Frank Buelow. He tells her she would be a natural, promises her a movie contract, and so she goes to Hollywood, but there is no contract for her. She meets Donny, a washed-up veteran actress (Blanche Sweet), on the lot who becomes her friend. Frank is fired from his studio and the new director finds that Frank's storyline is actually a copy of 'Rainbow Girls' stage play from Broadway. They call Jimmy, the author and Dixie's boyfriend, for the rights and he goes to Hollywood to produce it as a movie. Dixie gets the lead. But things start going wrong when Dizzy Dixie, spurred on by the fired Director Buelow, thinks that she is better than the picture or the studio and starts making demands. Interesting note: Good look at early Hollywood, with cameos by Loretta Young, Walter Pigeon, Noah Beery and a young Noah Beery, Jr. make the film fun to watch Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org
This would be of interest mainly to fans of early sound film. If Avatar is your thing, you probably would not be interested in this one.
The film is actually a sequel of sorts to the 1928 part talkie, "Show Girl, also starring Alice White as Dixie Dugan. Even though Alice had done six films since that one, it was decided to move her story to Hollywood two years later. I have no idea if the original Show Girl still exists, although people on this site are apparently rating it.
The big attractions here are the exhibition of several things you could only see in 1929-1930 motion pictures, in addition to several ironies. The first irony is that Vitaphone is being prominently displayed as the technology of sound film when, by this time, even Warner Brothers knew it was time to move to sound on film rather than sound on disc, which was so limiting in how and where films could be shot. Another irony is that Blanche Sweet is pretty much playing herself here as Donny Harris, the faded star who considers a supporting role to Alice White's Dixie Dugan in "Rainbow Girl" to be her last chance. In real life, 1930 was Blanche Sweet's last year in films. However, Ms. Sweet did get a somewhat happy ending with a long time stage career and a long marriage to another star of the stage, Raymond Hackett, that only ended with his death.
Also of interest is the big bizarre musical number "I've Got My Eye on You" in which Alice White and her accompanying chorus emerge from and disappear into a large clown-like head. During this number you get a good look at the way a Vitaphoned film was shot with three cross-cutting camera booths set up, along with a look at the Vitaphone technicians inside supervising the making of the sound discs.
Finally, note the movie premiere of "Rainbow Girl" shown at the end of the film. Several Warner Brothers stars of note appear at the microphone including Al Jolson, Loretta Young, and Noah Beery. Notice that a very young Noah Beery Jr. (Rockford Files) accompanies his father. Some think that this scene was the basis for the Hollywood premiere scene at the beginning of "Singin in the Rain".
The story is pedestrian, and actually the title says it all, but it is cute and appealing in the way that many of First National's early sound films were. You can definitely see a difference in First National's and Warner Brothers' early sound films even though by this time they had been one company for a year. Warner's early sound films seemed to go for a goofy over-the-top style in 1929 and 1930, while First National seemed to "look for the silver lining" with a feel good flavor.
Highly recommended for those interested in the Dawn of Sound.
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