The American Beauty Association is about to hold its annual trade show in New York City and songwriter "Tiny" Lewis (Billy Gilbert) has just sold a song to Ina Ray Hutton ('Ina Ray Hutton')... See full summary »
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The American Beauty Association is about to hold its annual trade show in New York City and songwriter "Tiny" Lewis (Billy Gilbert) has just sold a song to Ina Ray Hutton ('Ina Ray Hutton'), the leader of an all-girl band headlining the show. Lewis shares an apartment with Bradley Miller ('Ross Hunter') and Michele (Fritz Feld), an artist, and Miller has just invented a non-staining lipstick called "Rosebud." Preparing to get a booth at the show, Miller is told by J. Webster Hackett (Alan Mowbray), a very devious "Cosmetics King,", intent on selling a big lipstick order to buyer Edgar Pomeroy (Thurston Hall), that it will cost him a $1000 to join the association and get a booth, which is about $999 more than Miller and his roomies have between them. But Miller's beauty-parlor girl friend, Janet Wilson ('Ann Savage'), meets factory-owner P. G. Grimble (Hugh Herbert), and money is soon no issue. Written by
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Intended as a showcase for singer/bandleader Ina Ray Hutton [who only has to act in a few scenes], this fast-paced little musical about the selling of a kiss-proof lipstick works up some real charm with the help of an expert B-picture cast.
The leading lady is Ann Savage--soon to become the seediest femme fatale in film noir--who looks genuinely glamorous here, sings respectably, and handles her comedy with aplomb, but still hints at the edge that would immortalize her in Ulmer's DETOUR. The leading man is Ross Hunter, baby-faced but also with some bite, who would soon change careers to produce Douglas Sirk's glittering melodramas at Universal. Adding to the fun, Alan Mowbray plays a henpecked but lecherous cosmetics tycoon, while Hugh Herbert personifies a dizzy millionaire. This is surely the only movie that features a novelty duet sung by acerbic Glenda Farrell and bubbly Billy Gilbert.
Though hardly standards, Sammy Cahn's songs--like "Glamour for Sale" and "Rosebud"--are not bad. The tiny budget accomodates one busy dance number ["When the Samba Met the Boogie"] and an amusing "tableaux" production illustrating "Beauty Through the Ages". Director Arthur Dreifuss had already labored for Regal, Grand National, Coronado, and PRC, as well as guiding stripper Ann Corio in THE SULTAN'S DAUGHTER for Monogram. This movie was his big chance to step out of Poverty Row, so he showed Columbia what he could do with energy, timing, and budget-stretching. It worked: he stayed at Columbia for twenty years, but how unfair that this minor but enjoyable movie has dropped off the radar screens even of musical historians.
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