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Despite contrary opinion this film is unchallenging fun, great entertainment and a wonderful showcase for the kind of show biz performance that is all but gone today. Eleanor Powell is very funny as a stunt crazy publicity agent who for starters fakes getting shot during her own show! She competes with partner Dennis O'Keefe (also very good as the son of the agency owner) to bring in bigger and better clients. In the process of lining up acts and artists we see a huge production number called Circus In The Sky featuring Sammy Kaye and his band and a host of circus acts all at the top of a skyscraper. Another hare-brained scheme results in a wonderful Cab Calloway number called Hepster's Dictionary that is projected on to the side of a building in Times Square, naturally resulting in the arrest of Ms. Powell. Other highlights include Powell dressed as a pinball(!) dancing in a giant pinball machine set, an odd dance with a horse as partner, 2 numbers by the the inimitable Sophie Tucker and the always funny W.C.Fields. For a glimpse at the last gasp of Vaudeville, an era when down-on-their-luck actors could trust their memoirs to a PR agent, enjoy the very unique Sensations of 1945.
Sophie Tucker was probably sixty years old when she filmed her scenes in "Sensations of 1945". My comments here will focus on her participation in this film. Sophie sings two songs in a nightclub setting that was filmed at Republic Studios facilities and released by United Artists. These songs are "Mammy O'Mine' and "You Can't Sew A Button On A Heart"; this last also recorded commercially for Decca by Sophie. Sophie is in full voice for Maceo Pinkard's song "Mammy O'Mine" and this appearance is a wonderful preservation of her singing style as well as her splendid appearance with her beautiful ensemble including fur cape, hat, jewelry , and 1940s upsweep coiffure. In fact, she looks like one of her many beautiful Maurice Seymour photographs taken through the years of her long career spent singing on the variety stages of the world.
Some wonderful ideas are in this film, which taking into consideration
when it was filmed, are quite wonderful, inventive and enjoyable. Yes
it gets a bit boring now and again, however stick with it! During these
years when many movie theatres would not screen motion pictures with
Black performers (they often deleted scenes for their audiences) this
film highlights Cab Calloway and His Orchestra in two great numbers
The cast is delightful! In fact, they are perfect! And Sophie Tucker is always a pleasure to watch, as is Woody Herman and His Orchestra.
Sit back and enjoy a good fun musical with some great staging, fantastic big band music!
Another of those flimsy stories coupled with most forgettable musical numbers. Powell and O'Keefe as battling publicists are quite forgettable. However, there are two shining moments. Hubert Castle is the most incredible tightrope walker you will ever see - his "drunken walk" on the wire has to be the most spectacular piece of balancing ever recorded on film. He has to be seen to be believed. The other is Sophie Tucker doing a turn near the end of the film. Her magnetism, her professionalism, her sheer talent at being herself - well, charisma is not learned - you have it or you don't. A great lesson for all would-be cabaret artists. A sad note: W.C. Fields in his last film cameo is completely forgettable.
On Oct. 4 2004, an interesting Comment by "John5th" contained a serious slip of the pen in the following sentence: "... we see a huge production number called Circus In The Sky featuring Sammy Kaye and his band and a host of circus acts all at the top of a skyscraper." Clearly, John5th intended to write "WOODY HERMAN" (who stars -- even sings! -- in several musical numbers in this film, and is prominently mentioned in the opening credits, along with Cab Calloway). And NOT Sammy Kaye (who doesn't appear at all, and isn't mentioned in the credits). If John5th is still reading this Commentary, I feel sure he'd make the correction himself. I tried 2 ways to contact John5th, but got no reply; he may have gone on to other interests. -- Prof Steven P Hill, Cinema Studies, University of Illinois.
Ginny (Eleanor Powell) takes over an agency and books various acts to
impress Gus (Eugene Palette) and Junior (Dennis O'Keefe). She also
helps open a club for Dan (C Aubrey Smith). Ginny and Junior spar with
each other but will they get together in the end? There can only be one
The story is an excuse to string together various entertainer routines, the worst being WC "potato nose" Fields who performs a dreadful skit and a very bland song called "Penny Arcade". However, this is offset by great dance routines (2 with Eleanor Powell), some good circus performers with an impressive tightrope walker Olaf (Hubert Castle) and a very good middle "black" section with Cab Calloway and 2 piano players which is the standout part of the film. Sophie Tucker appears for 2 numbers at the end, so this will please those of you who like those unfunny songs that are more spoken - the kind of thing that Victoria Wood does now. Overall, the dancing and entertainment lift this film past the "OK" category and it is worth another watch.
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