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Harriet Green, a beloved and radiant music hall star of the Edwardian era, has a guilty secret: She has a baby daughter, born out of wedlock. Harriet leaves her public and flees to South Africa to raise her daughter quietly. The years pass, and now her daughter, Harriet Hawkes, returns to London as a young show-biz hopeful. Tommy, a wily publicity man, knowing that young Harriet is a dead ringer for her famous mother, convinces a theater producer to star her in a new revue as none other than the original Harriet Green, miraculously untouched by old age. The ruse works too well: Now the public believes Harriet is a well-preserved 60-year-old and Tommy is her son. The deception is more than merely inconvenient, because now Harriet and Tommy have secretly fallen in love. Written by
Dan Navarro <email@example.com>
Wonderful 30s British musical based on a show by Rodgers and Hart that never played on Broadway.
Jessie Matthews stars as Harriet Green, the toast of the London stage in the early 1900s when she suddenly retires and disappears in South Africa because she has an illegitimate child by a man who is blackmailing her. 30 years later a young actress is making the rounds and is discovered because she is a dead ringer for old Harriet. Of course she is the daughter.
But a desperate producer (Sonnie Hale) and a publicity man (Barry McKay) come up with a plan to foist the girl off as the original, ageless Harriet (evergreen). She is a sensation. But her success causes all sorts or problems when the blackmailer returns and when McKay falls in love with her (after he has been proclaimed to be her son!).
Fanciful plot is far-fetched, but the cast is excellent in this terrific musical by two American greats. And Jessie Matthews is superb. She was a major musical comedy star of the British stage and screen from the 20s through WW II. And she is incandescent here in her best film.
This is maybe the most Hollywood-looking musical the Brits produced in the 1930s. Matthews has one great production number when as old Harriet she does a succession of dance numbers, each one going back ten years to the 1890s. In between each number she flips a giant hour glass to denote the passage of time.
Matthews was a great dancer and singer and in EVERGREEN she was never better. She has another great number in "Dancing on the Ceiling" in which she shows her famous high kicks and arched back moves. Hale (her husband) and McKay are also good. Betty Balfour as Maudie has an hysterical bit when she does an aria from "Rigoletto." My VHS copy has bad sound but it's a terrific old film and a chance to see the legendary Jessie Matthews in her best role.
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