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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Nice Fox musical

7/10
Author: blanche-2 from United States
7 November 2006

Betty Grable comes out of the chorus to be a star in "Footlight Serenade," also starring John Payne, Victor Mature, Jane Wyman, Phil Silvers, James Gleason and Cobina Wright, Jr.

This is a backstage musical, done in black and white. Payne and Grable (Pat and Bill) are in love and ultimately marry. He's down on his luck but gets a job fighting boxing champion Tommy Lundy (Mature) on stage each night in the show; Grable is doing chorus. Lundy, however, is after Pat, and insists that she be made understudy to the lead (Cobina Wright, Jr.). After the Wright character quits the show, Pat gets her big break. To keep the volatile Lundy happy, the producers want Pat and Bill to keep their marriage a secret.

Grable sings and dances up a storm and is her usual vivacious and pretty self. Jane Wyman is on hand as a chorus girl and friend, and she's delightful. Victor Mature does well as the obnoxious boxer - he plays this type of role where he's one sandwich short of a picnic very well. There was something of the big lug in all of Mature's performances - he never comes off as too bright. In real life, he had no illusions about his acting. When a country club wouldn't accept him because he was an actor, he said, "I'm not an actor, and I have 80 films to prove it." In this role, he takes over the show from the producers, calling all the shots, and won't take 'no' from Pat. John Payne was hired by Fox to be a singing Tyrone Power. Handsome, with a beautiful physique and lovely singing voice, he was wonderful in the musical films with Grable and proved himself a solid, light leading man. He gives a nice performance in this, though the songs aren't very memorable.

Entertaining and a rare view of Grable in black and white!

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Boxing Meets Broadway

7/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
21 July 2004

Betty Grable at the point in her career when she made Footlight Serenade was just starting to be known as the GIs number one pin-up girl.

Stardom came late for her, she had been in films for more than ten years. But when it came she became the biggest female star in films. With her singing and dancing and all around good cheer, Footlight Serenade is a classic example of what put her at the top.

Grable gets able support by John Payne and Victor Mature. Payne was also hitting his stride as Fox's singing Tyrone Power and he and Grable have some nice if forgettable tunes. Payne's rival here is Victor Mature also a rising leading man for Darryl Zanuck.

Mature's character is interesting. He's the heavyweight champion of the world, but a champ far more interested in the night life than in his trade. In fact at the beginning of the film, comedian Phil Silvers says to producer James Gleason, Mature has charisma the women are nuts about him, let's put him on stage. Gleason agrees and the film and its situations commence.

I'm convinced that Victor Mature's role is based on former heavyweight champion Max Baer. Baer was one of the 1930s most colorful characters and worthy of a good sports biography. As a boxer there was nothing he didn't lack including a murderous punch that two fatalities could be chalked up to. It was said that Baer lost the killer instinct after that even though he later became heavyweight champion in 1934, beating Primo Carnera. Baer's reign as champion was one long party, just like Mature's character seems to be having. After a year of good times Baer decided to get back in the ring and realizing he was out of shape told his managers to get him a good tune-up fight. The opponent they dug up for him was James J. Braddock who was an unemployed longshoreman in the Depression who took up boxing to feed his family.

Well Braddock the Cinderella Man as he was dubbed beat Max Baer in 1935 and even though he lost in his first title defense to Joe Louis, the Cinderella Man became the stuff of legends. That Cinderella Man moniker got used in another popular film while Braddock was champion and I think Sly Stallone had Braddock in mind when he created the Rocky character.

Oddly enough both Baer and Victor Mature never took themselves too seriously. Baer had a show business career himself and he lived and partied hardy. I think Mature was able to capture this in the role very well.

But it's a Grable picture and for her fans, a real treat.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Delightful backstage musical

Author: cocoanut_grove (cocoanut_grove@yahoo.com) from The Cocoanut Grove, natch
5 January 2001

Highly entertaining 20th Century Fox musical stars Betty Grable as an aspiring actress, Victor Mature as a heartthrob boxer and John Payne as co-stars in a new Broadway show. Good tunes by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, nifty dancing from the stars and an enjoyable story combine to make Footlight Serenade a sprightly and underrated musical, filmed in glorious black and white. 10/10!!!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Good early Grable backstage musical despite not being in Technicolor...

6/10
Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
14 October 2006

As in A YANK IN THE R.A.F., BETTY GRABLE proved with this one that she didn't need Technicolor to sparkle. As it is, she could (as she herself modestly said) sing a little, dance a little, and act a little. Well, she turned those abilities into a show biz personality on screen that kept her popular at the box-office, especially during wartime America in World War II as the nation's number one pin-up girl.

Here she doesn't expand too much on those talents, but does well as a chorus girl who becomes the love interest of reliable Fox stars VICTOR MATURE and JOHN PAYNE, as boxers. When you watch both of them fighting for Betty's affection, it reminds you why they were so often chosen to co-star opposite vivacious Betty.

It's also fun to see a supporting cast that includes JANE WYMAN (still playing sharp-tongued chorines at this stage in her career), JAMES GLEASON and PHIL SILVERS. None of the songs are particularly memorable, but it's all good fun as backstage musicals go.

Since I'm used to recalling Grable in all of her Technicolor films, it seems strange to see her in glorious B&W, but her fans should enjoy this one--and her co-stars are just fine, particularly Mature as the overly cocky boxer who can't take his mind off Grable. No wonder COBINA WRIGHT, JR. is his jealous sweetheart.

My favorite line: Victor Mature saying in all seriousness to Betty Grable: "You know, you're right. I never do think of myself first."

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Betty In Black and White

8/10
Author: telegonus from brighton, ma
7 January 2003

This is a pleasant musical vehicle for Betty Grable, made early in the war, and photographed in stunning black and white by Lee Garmes. Victor Mature and John Payne literally fight over Betty in this one, while Phil Silvers is the comedy relief, and Jimmy Gleason adds some spice. Footlight Serenade is fairly small scale for a Grable pic, which makes it interesting. Most (if not all) of her subsequent films were done in color. Black and white adds just a touch of menace to the film, and Mature and Payne seem to not really like each other, which gives the movie a slight edginess that works in its favor (if you like edge). Grable's later pictures are much more bland. She didn't need all that Technicolor, as she proves here.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Delightful Grable musical with a too quick ending

8/10
Author: jmfabiano524-1 from United States
4 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just watched this last night...good songs, good enough story, and of course Betty being her sweet, charming self. I liked Jane Wyman's character too. Plus, as a male, I do confess that a number of outfits that take advantage of Betty's million dollar assets certainly could do no harm for me. My main complaint is that the ending is too abrupt, as the resolution comes out of nowhere. It is like, Bill just mentions what has gone on in one sentence and then Tommy changes his mind and all is forgiven. Didn't quite get that sequence of events myself. But as I said, this was a quite delightful way to spend an hour and a half...not the deepest thing, but movies that just allow you to have a good time are a very good thing.

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Knockout musical

7/10
Author: Alex da Silva from United Kingdom
25 December 2015

Heavyweight boxing champion Victor Mature (Tommy) wants his own stage show in which he can star. His gets something lined up with James Gleason (McKay) who gets continuously frustrated with Mature's ideas. No-one dares say "No" to Mature. Mature likes the look of chorus girl Betty Grable (Pat) so makes her understudy to lead Cobina Wright (Estelle). However, Grable has a boyfriend John Payne (Bill) who also gets a role in the show as Mature's boxing sparring partner. Things are set up for a showdown between Mature and Payne.

The songs and dancing in this film are all good and that is a pleasant surprise. There are also quite a few numbers performed and that helps save the narrative. Especially when you have the annoying Phil Silvers in a film. Mature's character is also pretty unpleasant and totally unrealistic as a boxing heavyweight champion – he displays way too much energy. However, the women are good in this and there are amusing moments even from Mature as a self-obsessed narcissist. John Payne is billed top but shouldn't be and he does fine in his role. It's an enjoyable film.

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Solid Entertainment!

8/10
Author: JohnHowardReid
29 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's a little disappointing to find the USA version on the otherwise excellent Fox DVD and not the original full-length version which was released in other territories including Canada, England and Australia. The main cut is the "I'll Be Marching to a Love Song" number which is featured in Fox's own "Hidden Hollywood 2" DVD. Nonetheless, despite this odd omission, this is still a most entertaining movie with many highlights including some great singing and dance numbers. As to the cast, Jimmy Gleason's put-upon producer makes the most impression, but Victor Mature's feisty fighter is not far behind. John Payne, Betty Grable and Phil Silvers also shine. And as for Gregory Ratoff's skillful direction, that comes as a big surprise and would probably rate as his best-ever endeavor.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A chorus girl takes down a prize-fighter.

4/10
Author: mark.waltz from United States
17 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What does it take to bring down an egotistical prizefighter with a head so big dynamite couldn't make it explode? A diminutive chorus girl who at his bequest has taken over the lead from its vindictive, untalented star, that's who! She's Betty Grable, and he's Victor Mature, a ridiculously conceited idiot too blind to see the truth right in front of his eyes about whom Grable is in love with. The only good thing about things like this is watching the big jerk being taken down.

War era musical comedy on Broadway (mostly entertaining but instantly dated musical revues) utilizes a lot of specialty acts, some of them outside the arena of the usual Broadway talents, so this is dead on in that aspect. But as a musical film, it is a lame entry, utilizing Grable in only a few songs and dances (including one where she shadow boxes with a shadow of herself), focusing more on the masculinity of Mature and Grable's true love (the handsome John Payne).

Character performers James Gleason and Phil Silvers and rising ingénue Jane Wyman add a little sparkle (what they can) as Mature's character has done a lot of unrepairable damage to the likability of this film. Silvers' "How ya doin'?/Glad to see ya!" character is taken down a peg in an amusing sequence with the theater janitor (Irving Bacon) who broke me up with his retort to the tired "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke Silver lets lay the biggest egg any chicken ever did. Otherwise, most of the film is forgettable.

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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Pure fluff and nothing more...

5/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
4 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You probably should know up front that I am NOT a fan of most musicals--even though I do adore classic Hollywood films. This isn't to say I hate them, but they are among my least favorite films of the era. So, keep this in mind as you read the review.

The film has a rather bizarre plot, though it's actually based on some actual stage shows that were made during the 1930s and 1940s. Boxers and other athletes would do variety shows where they mights sing or dance and put on an exhibition of their pugilistic prowess. Jack Dempsey and Jake LaMotta (among others) did such shows. So, the idea of a fat-headed heavy-weight champ (Victor Mature) deciding to headline a musical show on Broadway wasn't that big a stretch--though it sure seemed strange. What also seemed strange was what they did with the plot. In addition, the side plot involving John Payne's romance with Betty Grable just seemed a bit thin, to say the least. How all this worked out in the end was very poor (to say the least) with a miraculous "they all lived happily ever after" resolution tossed in at the last second.

In addition to a fluff-plot, the film is filled with lots of singing and dancing--mostly by the pleasant Grable. None of the songs are memorable in the least and they are mostly in the variety show style. They are inoffensive but I frankly felt that they often got in the way of the story--a problem in many musicals. In other words, whenever the film got rolling, the thing came to a grinding halt for a song or dance number.

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