MELODY FOR TWO is a typical "B" movie musical of the late 1930's, running little over an hour featuring a talented but non-star cast. Don't expect 42ND STREET but do expect some good vocals, a number of funny lines, lots of entertainment, and some extremely good songs, notably "September in the Rain" which became far more famous than the film it debuted in and is surely as a great a movie song as any ever written.
James Melton stars as a band-leader who tangles with arrogant songwriter Craig Reynolds, whom he fires right before his orchestra is about to begin a major contract with a New York nightclub. Reynolds takes his song collection with him, leaving Melton and band without any music for the show at the last minute. Band vocalist Patricia Ellis, something of a latent girlfriend to Melton, goes to Reynolds and persuades him to let the band use his song material for a high price under an non de plume , knowing Melton wouldn't take his songs for free. Reynolds agrees and the orchestra has a smash opening, only to have Reynolds blab to a gossip columnist about the secret which ridicules Melton. Angry, Melton quits the orchestra when the nightclub management refuses to drop the song repertoire which leads to him being blacklisted for walking out on a contract. Ellis reluctantly steps in as band-leader as well as vocalist and the band continues to be a major sensation. Feeling sympathy for Melton, she arranges for him to get a contract with a minor nightclub where despite the novelty angle of leading an all-girl orchestra business is poor until janitor Eddie Anderson (Rochester) persuades Melton to play music "hot" and provides him with some swing material. Then the tables are turned and Melton's band is the new sensation in town with his original orchestra with Ellis on the downturn. Eventually both bands must compete to obtain a radio contract and oily Reynolds is determined to pull underhanded tricks to see the results go his way.
Opera star James Melton is fine shape vocally but not one of the better singers-turned-actors although he has a pleasant personality. Pretty Patricia Ellis, one of the most prolific "B" movie leading ladies of the 1930's, is pleasant in her role but the movie is stolen by delightful little Marie Wilson as the dingy amateur musician who turns out has some very good ideas. The movie is also notable for featuring the wonderful Warners contractee Winifred Shaw as the vocalist for Melton's second band. Miss Shaw is simply one of the best singers in 1930's films and it's always a treat to see her. One does wish she had been the one to wrap her extraordinary vocals around "September in the Rain" although Melton does a very good job with it. The song alone is worth tuning in to hear - but the talented cast and smooth production makes the whole picture quite pleasing.
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