A Universal Army enlistment promotion, produced as a musical showcase for Harry James, the Andrews Sisters, Joe E. Lewis, and Donald O'Connor & Peggy Ryan. The film's thin plot has James ... See full summary »
Edward F. Cline
The Andrews Sisters,
Joe E. Lewis
Milton Haskins, a math genius known for his infallibility with numbers, quits his job with an insurance company when he discovers he made a mistake, and hooks up with a traveling carnival. ... See full summary »
Olga San Juan,
At the Davis School of the Theatre, run by Jeremy Taswell, where teen-age kids study drama and the serious arts, instructors Johnny Hanley and Alice Taswell are in love. The students, ... See full summary »
In LA's Fairfax district, where ethnic groups abound, four households celebrate Thanksgiving amidst family tensions. In the Nguyen family, the children's acculturation and immigrant parents... See full summary »
Of the singing Beebe brothers, young Mike just wants to be a kid; responsible Dave wants to work in his garage and marry Martha; but feckless Joe thinks his only road to success is through ... See full summary »
At Middleton College, controlled by rich donor Melton, only paying sports are allowed. But Freddie Frye, conniving student body president, has to get a letter in some sport to win back his ... See full summary »
During the war years of the 1940's, Universal produced a string of "Hep-cat" musicals, one of which "What's Cookin'?". The general idea of these movies was to cram in as much song, dance, comedy, variety, and "hep" talk as possible---then build a story around that. The movies, which were usually the second half of a twin-bill, were built to appeal to the young crowd; as such, they were fast-paced, light, breezy fare.
"What's Cookin'?" was no exception. The plot, an adaption of the Edgar Allan Woolf story "Wake up and Dream", was tailored to the teen viewers: The kids want a swing concert, but a stuffy highbrow adult prefers the classics. The kids contrive to get their way, and swing music wins.
The music and other entertainment is excellent: The Andrews Sisters headed the bill. Popular teen singer Gloria Jean has a prominent part in the movie. There were plenty of other stars of the day: Woody Herman and orchestra, Jane Frazee, Robert Paige, Billie Burke, and The Jivin' Jacks and Jills, to name a few.
But the movie is probably most noteworthy as being the first one made by Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan as a song/dance team. They were listed ninth and tenth in the credits.....something that never happened again in the twelve movies they appeared together in (not counting "Follow the Boys", which featured nearly every star in Universal's employ as well as many who were not).
As is the case with most of the "B" musicals of the 1940's, this one is rarely seen, and finding a copy of it is difficult. However, you can get a copy of this movie from Gloria Jean herself on her website. IMDb policy forbids the posting of URL's in reviews; however you can find her website by using your favorite search engine and her full name of "Gloria Jean Schoonover".
All in all, "What's Cookin'?" is good entertainment, although a lot of the dialog is dated to that era. If you like the old musicals, you'll probably enjoy this one.
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