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Swing Hostess (1944)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Music | 8 September 1944 (USA)
Rags-to-riches-to-rags story features Benny Goodman vocalist Martha Tilton as an unemployed big band singer who takes a job as an operator at a jukebox company. After falling in love with a... See full summary »

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(original story), (original story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Marge O'Day
Charles Collins ...
Benny Jackson
...
Bobo
Harry Holman ...
Fralick
...
Blodgett
Betty Brodel ...
Phoebe
Claire Rochelle ...
Fralick's Secretary
...
Spumoni
...
Hank
...
Merlini, the Magician
Earle Bruce ...
Joe Sweeney
Bob Gooding ...
1st Butch, Speciality Act
Walter Pietila ...
2nd Butch, Speciality Act (as Walt Pietila)
Gene Windson ...
3rd Butch, Speciality Act
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Storyline

Rags-to-riches-to-rags story features Benny Goodman vocalist Martha Tilton as an unemployed big band singer who takes a job as an operator at a jukebox company. After falling in love with a bandleader, she gets a chance to get back in the limelight by singing for his group. Written by Alessandro Martini <alemartini@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The nation's favorite singer in a Musical Romance as New as Tomorrow! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

8 September 1944 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The earliest documented telecasts of this film took place in New York City Thursday 2 October 1947 on WCBS (Channel 2) and in Los Angeles Saturday 29 January 1949 on KTTV (Channel 11). See more »

Soundtracks

Music To My Ears
Written by Jay Livingston, Ray Evans and Lewis Bellin
Sung by Martha Tilton
Also sung twice by Betty Brodel
See more »

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User Reviews

 
SWING Your Lady
2 November 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

SWING HOSTESS is a vivid example how falling into public domain might just be the best thing that could happen to an obscure movie. This long-forgotten "B" movie (B- really) from PRC has nearly ten reviews currently up on IMDb no doubt thanks to it being available in Mill Creek's 50 Musical movie pack and other p.d. issues by other companies while hundreds of other obscure still-copyrighted minor films from the era sit unreviewed and unseen in studio vaults.

Benny Goodman band vocalist Martha Tilton (perhaps best known today for dubbing Barbara Stanwyck's vocals in BALL OF FIRE) stars as Judy, a girl hoping to break into show business as a singer. Judy resides at a boarding house crammed with show business wanna-bes including snooty Phoebe (Betty Brodel), a hopelessly untalented yet arrogant young woman who also wants to be a singer. Both girls try to land a gig singing with a band but when Judy's audition record is mistaken for Phoebe's vocalizing, it's Miss no talent who gets the contract while Judy is forced to find work elsewhere to pay the bills, landing a job as a "record operator", where quasi-jukeboxes in drugstores and restaurants have a phone where the customers puts in their coin and calls the record operator who plays the record through the line!! Apparently there really were such jukeboxes in the 1940's as has been mentioned Doris Day also played such a record operator in one of her first movies.

The movie is surprisingly polished for a PRC musical with an almost entirely unknown cast other than Tilton and Iris Adrian, as her wisecracking best friend. This was one of Adrian's early film roles and it appears to be her largest part ever, billed second to Tilton. As has been mentioned there's a touch of the future film SINGIN' IN THE RAIN's plot but I was also surprised to see a segment where the boardhouse gang deliberately wrecks snooty Phoebe's nightclub engagement which has strong parallels to the famous similar scene in an future 1950's I LOVE LUCY episode in which Ethel gets hoity and Lucy, Ricky, and Fred pay her back by attempting to ruin her singing appearance in her hometown.

Character actor Harry Holman plays the old girl-crazy executive who is temporarily bewitched by Phoebe while the somewhat more familiar Emmett Lynn has a rather obnoxious character as Blodgett, the slovenly boarding house resident who can never seem to get to use the place's lone bathroom. One Claire Rochelle does very well as Holman's long-suffering secretary. As another reviewer mentions the movie curiously ships off the character Joe Sweeney (played by Earle Bruce in apparently his only film role) from the story midway as a near-boyfriend of Judy's who helps her get her first break, leaving the door open for what is suggested will be a romance after the movie's end with Judy and bandleader "Benny Jackson" (played by Charles Collins). Earle Bruce is quite handsome and does not do a bad job, it's odd this is his only film particularly in that era when so many young actors had to leave the film industry and service their country in the war (perhaps Bruce himself was drafted shortly after this film like his film character). There's also a stunningly handsome young brunette man in the cast among the acrobat act that resides at the boarding house, given that none of the guys is ever referred to by name one can not tell who he is although all three are billed (Bob Gooding, Walter Pietila, Gene Windson) as are Dave White and John Evans, as a "Chick and Chuck" dance team we never see dance but presumably they are the other guys seen at the boarding house. On the other hand, two character actresses with sizable dialogue and several scenes (the old lady who is the supervisor of the jukebox operators and a sassy middle-aged waitress wearing a Betty Grable hairstyle a little too young for her in a role very much like the ones Iris Adrian herself play in later years) are unbilled and to date, unidentified.

Although it's plot of a booking agent desperately in need of a new female vocalist and having trouble finding a good one in New York (!!!) is pretty silly, the movie is so well made and a nice little slice of life of big city living in the war years with an appealing if modest star performance from Martha Tilton, it's definitely worth a view.


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