16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
An unjustly neglected musical pastiche.
David Kelsey from Middlesbrough, England
25 April 2005
Marion Talley was a star of the NY Metropolitan Opera. In this, her
only film, she plays the sort of role which would soon become
associated with Deanna Durbin, 15 years her junior. The leading man is
Michael Bartlett, an operatic tenor not dissimilar to Allan Jones in
voice, appearance, and style. Like Durbin and Jones, they present
serious vocal music in a pleasantly popular format.
A light-hearted mood is sustained by a supporting cast of reliable
comic actors including Nigel Bruce as a bumbling voice coach, Josephine
Whittell as his tone deaf pupil, Luis Alberni as an excitable
composer/conductor, and Walter Catlett as an over enthusiastic
impresario. Ben Blue provides the physical comedy.
For the first 45 minutes the film romps along at a merry pace, in a
style reminiscent of "Love Me Tonight" (even down to a hunting scene in
which the hero saves the quarry from the hounds). Then the family
decides to "put the show on right here." They demolish the barn to
furnish seating for the audience, planning to stage the show on the
porch, and one begins to hope that this might be an intentional parody
of the sub-genre that Mickey and Judy would later make their own. Alas,
all originality ends there, and the last half hour of the film drags as
we are regaled with large parts of the performance. There are romantic
duets by the two leads, a crinoline-clad corps de ballet led by an
undistinguished prima ballerina, a comical pas de deux by Ben Blue with
an uncredited partner, and the Hal Johnson Choir led by Clarence Muse
accompanying an incongruous tap-dance by Eunice Healy in a costume
surely intended for Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner. (In the 1930 Broadway
production of "Girl Crazy" Miss Healy had been billed 6th in a cast
which listed Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers in 13th and 17th positions.
After appearing in three Hollywood movies she returned to the musical
stage, as a performer and later as a producer.) The unbelievably lavish
production is greatly aided by the fact that the lawn between the old
barn and the porch transforms itself effortlessly into a rotating stage
with a mirror surface. No explanation is offered for this miracle, but
when the company proposes to go on the road despite having no theatres
to play in, their manager explains that "there's a house like this
outside every city from Richmond to Memphis."
In 1936 Hollywood was still experimenting with formulae for musical
films. Warner Brothers favoured backstage plots, RKO provided escapist
musical comedies for Astaire and Rogers, while Paramount and MGM
presented regular musical revues in their "Big Broadcast" and "Broadway
Melody" series. It would have been better if Republic had stuck to a
single style for this film, preferably the one they started with.
Instead they hedged their bets by trying a bit of everything, with
unfortunate results. Still, the first hour of the film is worth the
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