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Mistaken for a famous British singing star, an American college girl decides she's READY, WILLING AND ABLE to conquer Broadway - especially after meeting the young scriptwriter who's producing the play...
A fine example of the musical comedies which Warner Brothers seemed to produce so effortlessly during the 1930's, it's a shame this film has become so obscure. With good production values & a snappy storyline, it's still a pleasant entertainment. The major missing component is Busby Berkeley; the final production number, with Ruby Keeler & dancer Lee Dixon hoofing it upon the keys of a giant typewriter, fairly cries for the Master to send it over the top.
Pert & pretty, Miss Keeler is, as always, much fun to watch. Many of her scenes are given the added attractions of the lovely Carol Hughes, playing her best friend. Wini Shaw, as a singer with too much past & tart-tongued secretary Jane Wyman also contribute to the fun.
The comedy relief is largely handled by Allen Jenkins as a loudmouthed agent, Louise Fazenda as a faded Shakespearean actress & Hugh O'Connell as a society fuddy-duddy. Comic cameos by E. E. Clive & Lillian Kemble-Cooper as an English knight & lady, and Barnett Parker as a helpful British butler, are also welcome. Movie mavens will spot an unbilled Carlyle Moore Jr. as a dockside reporter.
Ultimately, though, there is sadness attached to this film. The leading man, Ross Alexander, shot himself before the film could be released. This was his final film; he was only 29. Born Ross Smith in Brooklyn in 1907, Alexander had the personality, talent & good looks which should have spelled significant stardom. But Hollywood is notoriously unpredictable, and Alexander, unhappy with the way his career was going & obviously still troubled by the gunshot suicide of his first wife in December of 1935, placed a pistol to his own head on January 2, 1937.
Once dead, it was Warner Brothers that paid him the final indignity. Having a completed film with a star who was not only deceased, but a suicide as well, was a bit more than the Studio wanted to deal with. So, cutting their losses, they gave Ross Alexander fifth place billing on the lineup of performers for READY, WILLING AND ABLE, where he should have received first or second.
Outside of his appearance in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935), he is almost forgotten now. Ross Alexander was a victim of the Hollywood system and his own private anguish, each of which fed on the other. He should be remembered as a fine young actor, who, in a very few years, brought lots of enjoyment to movie audiences. This is typified by his best scene in READY, WILLING AND ABLE, where he introduces the Johnny Mercer lyrics for 'Too Marvelous For Words,' by gently reciting them to Ruby Keeler. It is a tremendously poignant few moments.
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