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Show promoter Cartwright has stolen the songs that Frank wrote while he was in the big house. The boys go to Cartwright to get Frank credit for his work, and Cartwright has them arrested for extortion, of which they are innocent. Luckily, they are in the same paddy wagon as Pete and when his gang springs Pete, the boys are sprung. The only way that they can prove now that the songs are Frank's is to put on a show before Cartwright show 'Melody for You' opens. The boys and Patsy find a theater, paint the scenery and put all the kids in the neighborhood to work on the show. Pete Detroit makes sure that Cartwright's show does not open on the same night and that his cabs bring in an audience. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Busby Berkeley, Ballad for Americans, and Leo the Lion's B company
When Ballad for Americans became a big hit in 1939 out of the WPA Theater Project Musical Sing for Your Supper, MGM quickly bought the screen rights to the song. Both Paul Robeson and Bing Crosby made hit recordings of it that same year, though the song is pretty much identified with Robeson now.
MGM waited three years before putting it into a film and it went into one of the products of their B picture unit, Born to Sing. This film is no doubt something that Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland rejected for one of their 'let's put on a show' films.
It's just that kind of film. Crooked producer Lester Matthews and even crookeder press agent Charles Lane, plagiarize the work of Virginia Weidler's father, Henry O'Neill for their show. Topping that all off they frame Ray McDonald, Larry Nunn, and Leo Gorcey on an extortion rap.
As they're being taken to jail, they're riding in the same paddy wagon as gangster Sheldon Leonard. They go along in an escape his gang has planned and he in turn gets ensnared in their machinations. Which as it turns out is to put on a show before Matthews does and showcase O'Neill's music.
So help me that's the plot of this one. It's all quite innocently and charmingly done, but the presentation leaves one breathless.
Tacked on to the end of the show is Ballad for Americans where the lead singer is Douglas MacPhail whose career came to tragically to an end the following year. Staging the number is Busby Berkeley and the staging of it is similar to some of what he did in Ziegfeld Girl the year before.
Why MGM didn't put Ballad for Americans into one of their A films is something we'll never know.
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