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Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
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Joe Davis Sr., headliner at a big nightclub, is visited by medical student son Joe Jr., who to Dad's chagrin wants to be a crooner, and soon comes between Dad and his girlfriend Claire. So glamorous dancer Bonnie is enlisted to distract Junior. Which does Bonnie want more, the fur coat or true love? Plot is a framework for numerous Ziegfeld style stage productions. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Bonnie and Claire ~ and Two Guys Named Joe ~ Can't Reach Agreement ~ with Binkie in Tow
20th Century Fox Studios promotes this film as a "Technicolor Extraganza," as the greatest Musical to hit the silver screen, but even though its stars may outdo what they do best, its screen-story, Cinematography and direction seem to cry for help here.
For this, 20th creates another backstage Musical, this time borrowing from the plot of the Broadway production of "The Barker" (1927) (Claudette Colbert and Norman Foster star in its original cast), adapted for the screen as "The Barker" (1928) (with Dorothy Mackaill and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), and now changing its venue from a carnival setting unto a nightclub circuit for "Diamond Horseshoe" (1945).
Betty Grable, by now, has become a major headliner for 20th especially because of WWII-era pin-up posters, war bond drives and USO tours, and, oh yes, those Techinicolor extravaganzas. Her co-star, Dick Haymes, a very capable deep rich baritone, handles his material well in an early leading screen role.
For their supporting performers, we find a cast rarity: the film debut of Beatrice Kay coincides with the film swan song for William Gaxton. These four, along with comedian Phil Silvers, advance the balance of the plot, as most others appear sporadically, in one scene or in uncredited roles, for which there are multitudes.
Carmen Cavallaro as Himself (pianist) appears in performance at Club 21. Willie Solar as Double-Talking Singer Comedian appears in performance at Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. Margaret Dumont as Mrs. Standish appears in Bonnie's dream sequence, along with Charles Coleman as Majordomo, Bess Flowers as Duchess of Duke, and Evan Thomas as Duke of Duchess.
Familiar faces as Phyllis Kennedy, Julie London, and Ray Teal as Tough Customer appear in bit roles although "Billy Rose," owner of Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe fails to make his appearance throughout the entire picture.
And as for story, this also borrows rather heavily from customary "the Coney Island Plot," a rags-to-riches type, in which cast members form an entertainment group, and something happens to break them up, and it's back to rags again, while someone tries to find a way to bring them back together.
Here, Bonnie Collins (Betty Grable), a chorus-dancer-turned-star and her roommate, Claire Williams (Beatrice Kay), a nostalgia singer, entertain at the lavish Diamond Horseshoe Nightclub, along with Joe Davis Sr. (William Gaxton), a widowed career singer, who spends his life in near poverty, saving his earnings, and hoping that his son would become an engineer or doctor to receive some sort of career security, which he's never known.
Claire and Joe Sr. have been seeing each other socially and plan for a future together, while Bonnie and Joe Sr. often cross swords after the curtain closes each evening. The someone who steps among the three would be Joe Davis Jr. (Dick Haymes), who arrives backstage to announce his plans to become a singer rather than an engineer or doctor, to his father's disapproval, which also causes a rift between Claire and Joe Sr.
Blinkie Miller (Phil Silvers), who works as a stage-hand, would be the one to try to bridge the feuding foursome with a semblance of peace if he can manage such a thing. But the plot thickens when Claire bribes Bonnie with the prize of one of her mink coats if Bonnie manages to convince Joe Jr. to return to his medical studies so that Joe Sr. wouldn't be worrying about Joe Jr., thus leaving Joe Sr. to concentrate upon his romance with Claire.
Binkie then introduces Joe Jr. to the manager of a rival night-spot, the Footlights Club (not to be confused with the "Stage Door" (1937) boarding house). Bonnie then launches into her extended dream sequence about being received as a "somebody" in mink, before being awakened by Joe Jr. to picnic (in front of a painted wall scene, it would seem), riding on a riverboat, lounging by the pool, and nightclub-hopping amid various camera effects.
So, because Bonnie, Claire, Joe Sr. and Joe Jr. each has an agenda of her or his own to fulfill, as well as harboring conflicting notions as to what the mink symbolizes, Binkie pretty much has his hands filled if he aims to try to gather the old gang back into Diamond Horseshoe in time for the big number and plenty more top-heavy head-dresses and ostentatious costuming.
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