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22 user 3 critic

Something to Sing About (1937)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 30 September 1937 (USA)
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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(story), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
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Ito
Marek Windheim ...
...
Mr. Easton
...
Mr. Daviani (as John Arthur)
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Mr. Richards (as William Davidson)
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Kathleen Lockhart ...
...
...
Pinky - Band Pianist
Cully Richards ...
Cully - Band Member
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 September 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Battling Hoofer  »

Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2005 DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright (Grand National Pictures declared bankruptcy in 1939) resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Mr. Richards: Oh, now listen, girlie!
Rita Wyatt: And don't call me girlie.
See more »

Connections

References White Legion (1936) See more »

Soundtracks

Any Old Love
(uncredited)
Written by Victor Schertzinger
Sung by James Cagney and chorus ('Three Shades of Blue') in the movie he makes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cagney at his naturalistic best
3 August 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

The plot of this film is fairly ordinary--bandleader/hoofer goes to Hollywood and becomes a star, studio wants to play up his credentials as a lover so they put the kibosh on announcing his marriage and cook up an on-set romance for the papers, the strain threatens his marriage. If it were with any other cast, that might have been the end of it. But with Cagney in the starring role, the movie just pops. The man had star quality positively oozing out of him, which had been evident from his earliest bit roles, in films like "A Handful of Clouds."

This was Cagney's second and last film with Grand National studios, where he'd taken refuge during a contract dispute with Warner Brothers. The first film had cast him in standard dramatic fare, but this one reunited him with his NY dance coach, Harland Dixon, who staged the dances for the film. Cagney's dancing is even more spirited than in "Yankee Doodle Dandy"--at one point, where other dancers might kick their heels, he kicks his knees! According to a NY Times article cited in the AFI Catalog, Cagney practiced his steps with Fred Astaire before filming.

What's most striking to me, though, in this film is Cagney's incomparably naturalistic acting. One scene in particular, where Cagney phones his fiancée back in New York while sitting in the dark in his Hollywood apartment, and listens to her sing a new song, is as moving and realistic as anything I've seen.

Many scenes will evoke more famous moments from later films--Cagney dancing on piano keys, like Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia in "Big," or Cagney working on his pear-shaped tones, like Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain." Cagney gives them all his unique brand of liveliness. There is also an almost anachronistic recognition of the degradation Hollywood visited on minorities, in the person of Philip Ahn, who plays Cagney's manservant, Ito.

Evelyn Daw, as Cagney's fiancée, was a discovery of the director, Schertzinger, and this was her first film. She's got a cute little smile, but her voice is absolutely wrong for the sort of band Cagney is supposed to be leading. She does well enough, though, and holds her own with William Frawley as Cagney's sympathetic press agent and Gene Lockhart as the studio boss. The only real sour note is sounded by Mona Barrie, as the Hungarian star set up as Cagney's love interest by the studio press machine. She's neither attractive nor talented, and one has to wonder why she was supposed to be such a big star.

This movie is out on DVD, unlike all too many of Cagney's early efforts, and it's worth checking out for a side of Cagney seen entirely too seldom.


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