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Command Performance (1937)

 -  Drama  -  19 August 1937 (UK)
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Cast overview:
Arthur Tracy ...
Street Singer
Mark Daly ...
Rae Collett ...
Jack Melford ...
Stafford Hilliard ...
Julian Vedey ...
Phyllis Stanley ...


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19 August 1937 (UK)  »

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A Gypsy Retreat
30 January 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In Command Performance, Arthur Tracy playing himself, is getting rather run down. During a performance while singing Londonderry Air {Oh Danny Boy) he breaks down hitting that high note which with his range should have been within reach. The audience helps him out to finish the song.

The doctor says rest and Tracy agrees. But he leaves manager Finlay Currie without too much cash and no check book. He can't get too far on it. Never mind, he makes the acquaintance of a traveling band of gypsies. And of course falls for the lovely Lilli Palmer the daughter of the gypsy chief, Julian Vadey.

There certainly was no stretch on any acting talent with Tracy playing himself, but he's a charming sort and it's not hard to imagine his popularity on both sides of the pond. In the early Thirties he was a rival to Bing Crosby, Russ Columbo, and Rudy Vallee as a radio singer in the United States. However his description of his own voice as a 'Baritenor' is pretty accurate, he had an astonishing range. Unlike those contemporaries I named, Tracy had operatic training, calling him a crooner would be most inaccurate. In fact the big production number of Command Performance is Tracy doing an English version of the The Toreador Song from Carmen.

There's a very droll performance by Mark Daly who plays an amiable chicken thief who falls in with the gypsies and becomes a rival of sorts for Lilli Palmer. Young Rae Collet is very cute as the little girl who becomes attached to Tracy and to whom he sings A Whistling Gypsy Lullaby. Very similar to the scene Bing Crosby did with Edith Fellows in Pennies from Heaven.

I didn't recognize him at first because he used an American accent, but Finlay Currie as the manager was interesting. Interesting because I always like hearing in foreign films what we sound like to another culture.

For those who want to check out the man known as The Street Singer, Command Performance is recommended.

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