Something to Sing About (1937)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Musical  |  30 September 1937 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 527 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 3 critic

A New York bandleader journeys to Hollywood when he is offered a contract with a studio, but he is determined to do things his way and not theirs.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Terrence 'Terry' Rooney (stage name of Thadeus McGillicuddy)
Evelyn Daw ...
Hank Meyers
Mona Barrie ...
Bennett O. 'B.O.' Regan
Philip Ahn ...
Ito (Terry's servant)
Marek Windheim ...
Mr. Farney (dialogue director)
Mr. Easton (makeup supervisor)
Johnny Arthur ...
Mr. Daviani (wardrobe supervisor) (as John Arthur)
William B. Davidson ...
Mr. Richards (nightclub owner) (as William Davidson)
Richard Tucker ...
Mr. Blaine (the director)
Kathleen Lockhart ...
Miss Amy Robbins (newspaper columnist)
Jimmy - Band Member
Harry Barris ...
Pinky (pianist in the band)
Cully Richards ...
Cully (band member)


Popular New York band leader Terry Rooney (Cagney) is offered a lucrative film contract out in Hollywood. Rooney and his soon-to-be wife pack up and head for California. Upon arriving, they meet Mr. Regan, the head of the studio, who believes that Rooney's true lack of desire for stardom is arrogance on the band leader's part. When his first film is huge success and a hit for the studio, Regan tries to hide the truth from Rooney. Feeling a need to get away from Hollywood, Rooney takes his wife on a South Seas honeymoon cruise, only to return to the real truth of his fame. Written by SindyMac

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE No. 1 Dynamo of the Screen Goes to Town in His Latest and Greatest Role. See more »


Comedy | Musical


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 September 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Battling Hoofer  »

Box Office


$900,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (2005 DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


James Cagney reportedly rehearsed his dance numbers occasionally with Fred Astaire. See more »


Rita is in New York when she reads of Terry's supposed relationship with Steffie on the front page of the "Express" newspaper. Meanwhile in Hollywood, Terry learns of the false rumours in exactly the same way, from the exact front page of an identical "Express" newspaper. Props used the same newspaper for both coasts. Highly unlikely. See more »


Stephanie 'Steffie' Hajos: You mean HE objects to being engaged to ME for a few weeks?
Hank Meyers: Honey, he does nothing but object!
Stephanie 'Steffie' Hajos: I? Stephanie Hajos, the Great Star, condescend to have my name linked with this - this HOOFER, and HE OBJECTS? HE OBJECTS! I won't speak to him again! I won't even finish making the picture! Tell my public I am through!
See more »


References White Legion (1936) See more »


Right or Wrong
Written by Victor Schertzinger
Played by the band and Sung by Evelyn Daw
Reprised by Evelyn Daw at the nightclub
See more »

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User Reviews

Why Couldn't James Cagney get good musical properties?
20 June 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Something to Sing About was produced at Grand National Studios where James Cagney was working while under a contract dispute with the brothers Warner. He did two films for this B studio, neither of which rank high in the Cagney credits.

One of the great losses to cinema is the fact that Jimmy Cagney did so few films that utilized his terrific dancing abilities. The two that come to mind immediately are Yankee Doodle Dandy and Footlight Parade. Two lesser films are The West Point Story and Never Steal Anything Small. Cagney himself said he never used to watch anything but his musicals in retirement. So why did he make so few of them?

Well this one was all wrong. The plot of Something to Sing About concerns a hoofer who fronts for a band who's discovered and given a movie contract. There are the usual complications of a conniving studio boss and a conniving press agent played respectively and well by Gene Lockhart and William Frawley. His contract calls for a no- marriage clause, so Cagney and band girl singer lady Evelyn Daw marry in secret. Then we get the complication of a publicity driven studio romance with screen leading lady Mona Barrie. I think you can figure where this is going.

The most disappointing thing about Something to Sing About is the lack of dance numbers for Cagney. He dances briefly at the beginning and the end of the film and nothing in the middle. Evelyn Daw had a nice singing voice and the charisma of a ham sandwich. She got the musical numbers such as they were. I'm sure the movie-going public was paying their tickets to see Cagney dance.

Also in addition to giving him some dance numbers a female dance partner would have been nice. He danced well with Ruby Keeler in Footlight Parade and with Virginia Mayo and Doris Day in The West Point Story. Weren't Ginger Rogers, Eleanor Powell or Ruby Keeler available?

No memorable songs came out of this. And Daw's voice is waisted as well. She has a Jeanette MacDonald soprano voice which was so out of place with a swing band.

No wonder Cagney went running back to Warner Brothers. But they should have given him some decent musicals.

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