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A. Edward Sutherland
Billy De Wolfe
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This is one of the large number of Paramount musicals for "Der Bingle" in the 1930s and 1940s, that are mostly pleasant feasts for lovers of his crooning, entertaining in their own right, but forgettable after watching. They all have high points in them, but the films that people remember for showing Crosby the actor were made after 1940. Then came his pair of performances as Father O'Malley, his visit to the court of Franz Joseph in THE EMPEROR'S WALTZ, and eventually movies like THE COUNTRY GIRL and HIGH SOCIETY. Perhaps the best to say about the early Crosby films was they gave him the training to become the fine serious actor he turned into. They also were adequate comic training for his series of "Road" films with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.
The best portions of this film (aside from Crosby's singing) is Bea Lillie's comic points. Although she would have a long film career (she was, if you recall, the villain in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE in the middle 1960s) Ms Lillie's basic career was as a satirist and stage clown. With her ladylike ways and soft speech she would sit on stage singing a song about "Fairies at the Bottom of My Garden", and suddenly you were listening to a devastating criticism about modern culture. That was never (as far as I know) put on film. But her routine about buying "a Dozen Double Damasque Dinner Napkins" (from poor, flustered Franklin Pangborn) gradually roles off their betwixt and be-twiddled tongues as "a dibble dizen madeques riddle nipkins" or whatever they come up with. She also does a lovely spoof of gypsy love songs, "Only a Gypsy Knows", that includes her bashing around with a tambourine, and yelling a friendly "Hiya!" at one point. I recommend the film for fans of "Der Bingle", but also for those masters of tongue-twisted, genteel comedy, Lillie and Pangborn.
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