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Having box office successes "The Under-Pup" (her debut) and "If I Had My Way" (with Bing Crosby) under her belt, the next assignment given to Gloria Jean by Universal was "A Little Bit of Heaven". The plot isn't anything new: A child who lives in the tenements of New York happens onto a street broadcast of a radio quiz show (popular in those days), sings, and is eventually hired to a big-bucks contract, which allows her and her family to move into a posh apartment, with all the usual problems that accompany sudden wealth.
This movie, while not a sequel, was essentially a followup to "The Under Pup" and had the same basic plot and many of the ideas that the first picture did. In this movie, the viewer gets to meet most of the dozen uncles that were merely mentioned in "The Under-Pup". C. Aubrey Smith, Nan Grey, Billy Gilbert, Frank Jenks, and Butch and Buddy all return. Universal used the same strategy in this picture as they did in "The Under-Pup": surround the essentially inexperienced star with lots of veteran talent: Smith, Grey, Jenks, Eugene Palette, Robert Stack, the zany Hugh Herbert, Nana Bryant, and Stu Ervin to name a few. And as in the first movie, it wasn't necessary to cover for Gloria: she holds her own in the acting department.
But moviegoers weren't there to watch Jean act; she was there to sing, and she did so with authority. It was a bit disappointing that her first song was essentially a repeat of the last song of "The Under-Pup"---the silly Penguin fight song, set to the ending of Sousa's "High School Cadet" march: a work designed to show off her range and agility. Other songs include the wonderful Irish melody for which the movie was named: "A Little Bit of Heaven" (Ernest Ball and J. Keirn Brennan), "After Ev'ry Rainstorm" (Frank Skinner and Sam Lerner), "What Did We Learn at School?" by Vivian Ellis, and a very strange operatic aria written by Charles Previn and Ralph Freed.
The movie isn't quite as good as "The Under-Pup", in my opinion. The story isn't as well-written, it's essentially a rehash of the first movie, they recycled one song word-for-word from the other movie, and I don't for the life of me understand why the last song was cut short, only to fade into the closing credits. But it's still a very enjoyable film, the acting is excellent, and if you want to hear a young Gloria Jean sing in a beautiful coloratura voice (that gradually deepened as she got older), this is definitely the movie you want to see. As with all the other movies she appeared in, you can buy this one directly from Gloria Jean on her website. IMDb policy forbids the posting of URL's in reviews; however you can find the website name by using your favorite search engine and her full name of "Gloria Jean Schoonover".
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