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Ready, Willing and Able (1937)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 6 March 1937 (USA)
Two songwriters want to cast a British star in their new show.



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Dixon ...
Pinky Blair
J. Van Courtland
Clara Heineman
Barry Granville
Hugh O'Connell ...
Truman Hardy
Wini Shaw ...
Teddy Hart ...
Yip Nolan
Edward McNeil
Al Shaw ...
Moving Man (as Shaw)
Sam Lee ...
Moving Man (as Lee)
Sir Samuel Buffington (Credits) / Bloomington (in Film)
May Boley ...
Mrs. Beadle


Two songwriters want to cast a British star in their new show.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 March 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amores de Opereta  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Last film of Ross Alexander, who died two months before this film was released. See more »


Referenced in The Honeymooners: The $99,000 Answer (1956) See more »


There's a Little Old House
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Played on piano by and sung and danced to by Lee Dixon
Reprised a cappella by Adrian Rosley
Reprised on accordian by Lee Dixon
See more »

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User Reviews

Show Girl From England
16 March 2001 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

READY, WILLING AND ABLE (Warner Brothers, 1937), directed by Ray Enright, is a lightweight backstage story produced in late 1936 that marked the en of an era for Ruby Keeler as the tap dancing darling of Warner Brothers musicals. With Lee Dixon, Allen Jenkins and Louise Fazenda listed below Keeler's name, the main focus is actually on Ross Alexander, billed fifth in the casting credits. Sadly, upon completion of this musical, Alexander had committed suicide in January 1937, leaving one to wonder how far he could have gone in motion pictures, which began for him in 1932, followed by a Warner Brothers studio contract in 1934.

The plot in brief finds Barry Granville (Ross Alexander), a songwriter, actor and producer, who, along with Pinky Blair (Lee Dixon), hoofer and partner, hope to get their show, "Fair Lady" (no, NOT "My Fair Lady") produced on Broadway. McNeil (Addison Richards), an agent from Amalgamated Pictures, agrees to back the show if they can get a well known personality to appear in it. It is suggested they try to get Jane Clarke, an English musical-comedy star currently making headlines. They so happen to locate a Jane Clarke (Ruby Keeler), an aspiring dancer and student of Broadfield College returning home from England with her classmates. After the ship docks New York, she is approached and mistaken for the English singer by J. Van Courtland (Allen Jenkins), a theatrical agent sponsoring Granville. Jane is coaxed by her friend, Angie (Carol Hughes) to sign an immediate contract with Granville, feeling this would be her big opportunity to crash Broadway. Granville, of course, falls in love with his young "English" star, which makes it difficult for the guilt-ridden Jane to get enough courage to tell him the truth about herself. She does continue, however, with her masquerade, British accent and all. The jig is up, however, when the real Jane Clarke (Winifred Shaw) arrives from England after learning that she's to appear in a show she knows nothing about. However, the English Jane Clarke turns out to also be a fraud, which causes further conflict for Barry.

As with the latter MGM musicals that starred Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the late 30s/early 1940s, the cast in READY, WILLING AND ABLE is so energetic, especially Alexander and Jenkins, that it's ashame they couldn't rise above a mediocre script. Alexander's singing voice is obviously dubbed and Lee Dixon (who looks more like a movie cowboy than a Broadway hoofer) tap dances like a puppet on a string. An average score by Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting includes: "The World is My Apple" (sung by Lee Dixon); "Handy With Your Feet" (sung and danced by Keeler); "Just a Quiet Evening" (sung by Alexander/ danced by Keeler and Dixon at dinner party), "Sentimental and Melacholy" (sung by Winifred Shaw); and the hit tune, "Too Marvelous for Words," which is plugged three times during the story, becoming the closing production number in which Keeler and Dixon tap dance on keys to a giant typewriter, compliments of choreographer Bobby Connolly, whose dance direction is usually mediocre at best. This production number was, however, nominated for an Academy Award for best dance direction. Aside from the song and dance, Louise Fazenda and Teddy Hart do a very familiar comedy routine during dress rehearsal, one that better served comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in THE NAUGHTY NINETIES (Universal, 1945). Look for it. Featured in the supporting cast are Hugh O'Connell as Keeler's middle-aged but uninteresting fiancé, Truman Hardy; Shaw and Lee as the piano movers who do tap routines; Barnett Parker as a authentic English waiter; and a very young and cute Jane Wyman as a sharp-tongued secretary.

In spite of mistaken identity plot used numerous times in 1930s musicals, the best being GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, READY, WILLING AND ABLE failed to become a classic. One of the few channels to have aired this musical at one point of time was WPHL, Channel 17, in Philadelphia, prior to 1974. Currently available on Turner Classic Movies, take notice whenever READY, WILLING AND ABLE is preceded by a three minute theatrical trailer that most of the major leads and their scenes are described and highlighted with the exception of Ross Alexander. His dubbed singing is heard, but is never seen.

On a personal level, the chemistry between Keeler and Alexander fails to register that certain spark and charisma Keeler made opposite Dick Powell in those seven musicals, and once opposite her overgrown husband Al Jolson. If remembered at all, READY, WILLING AND ABLE would be noted for its introduction to the popular tune of "Too Marvelous For Words." (**1/2)

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