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Singing servant girl discovered by outlaw music lover
Australia, 1874. The famous bandit Stingaree is in the neighborhood; the prominent London music producer, Sir Julian Kent, is also visiting. Everyone is excited:
Mrs. Clarkson (Mary Boland), the nutty (and annoying) lady of the vast Clarkson estate, is determined that she will impress Sir Julian with her singing. Mr. Clarkson (Henry Stephenson) is not so sure, but he is curious to see the famous Stingaree.
Servant girl Hilda dreams of singing for Sir Julian herselfbut Mrs. Clarkson is banishing her to the neighbors' during his visit. Hilda is crestfallen .might Sir Julian have been her once chance of escape from this lonely life?
Irene Dunne is wonderful as Hilda, and her performance makes this picture worthwhile. When she sits down at the piano, thinking herself alone, and singswhat a beautiful song, and scene.
Richard Dix is rugged yet refined as Stingaree, the dashing and notorious outlaw. He excels at disguises, takes bold risks and has a keen appreciation for music. One very exciting moment: he's leaving in a hurry, cops in pursuit he races toward the front door sees Dunne standing there picks her up in his arms and carries her off with him!
Andy Devine plays it fairly straight as Stingaree's loyal sidekick, Howie. (Neither Dix nor Devine attempts to sound remotely Australian or English, by the waywith the exception of Devine's hilarious phony accent when helping set up a robbery.) Conway Tearle is the devoted and reliable Sir Julianit's a good performance but the role doesn't offer much except bland sincerity and mild passion.
The plot is outrageously sillya suave criminal with a musical ear finds a girl in the sticks who sings like an angel and he risks life and limb to promote her career.
Nevertheless, the picture certainly has its moments. It's not every 1930s operetta-style musical that is highlighted by its songs, at least not to my taste but Irene Dunne's singing really is most excellent, and she creates a character we do want to cheer for. A couple of neat plot turns offer pleasant surprises right up to the rather abrupt but satisfying ending.
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