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Okay, this movie isn't Citizen Kane. But it is an hour of so of zippy
well-produced entertainment -- and I think you have to say it is one of
the most perfectly typical movies of its time. I mean, it has every
stereotypical character, traditional plot device and normal production
touch you might expect in a light comedy produced during wartime. We
have a fast-talking and slightly corrupt nightclub promoter. We have an
adorable torch singer with a heart of gold. And we have a somewhat
naive leading man who nevertheless possesses the sterling qualities
that will make him a war hero. Oh, and don't let me forget -- we also
have a beautiful and manipulative woman, the sort who doesn't like to
The plot is your basic boy-meets-girl stuff. It concerns a man who meets a nightclub singer -- very cutely, of course. They have a nice long chat over dinner and fall deeply in like. The fellow goes to war the very next day. Boy and girl secretly pine for each other, even though each of them knows they really don't have a right to do so. The girl's lovely face gets painted on the nose of our hero's B-29. The plane and crew becomes famous for heroic exploits (which consist mainly of surviving) and then hero and torch singer are reunited for a bond tour. They have to pretend to be lovers. The problem here is that the hero's rich-bitch fiancé intrudes. She doesn't love the guy at all, but now that he's a war hero, she demands that the big lunk go through with the ceremony.
You can kind of guess how this one ends. Can't you? Oh, please. And there's a big twist at the end, when we find out about the fellow's family background -- but if you don't see this one coming a half-hour in advance, you probably haven't seen enough thirties and forties movies.
Naturally the lovely Miss Langford has some elaborate production numbers, with a wonderful big-band soundtrack.
Now, this sort of summary might make this movie sound like the oldest and tritest story ever filmed. But the fact is that every now and then someone produces a movie that so perfectly encapsulates every convention of its genre that you stop seeing a lack of originality as a flaw. Instead you can marvel at its perfection, the way you can admire a perfectly cut diamond. Nothing original about a perfectly cut stone, is there? But it sure looks purty.
So of course the boy and girl fall in love. Of course they conquer all. Of course Frances Langford gets to wear skimpy outfits and sing her lungs out. No wonder Bob Hope took her on so many USO tours.
I gather that Anthony Mann's involvement is one of the reasons this movie works so well. He became a noted director in the years after this film was made, and while I can't count myself as one of those who is obsessed with his work, I know that there are many who are. Suffice it to say that some directors might have made a mess of a movie like this one, but Mann keeps it moving right along, and the level of acting is pretty much what it ought to be.
Okay, so maybe the critics were right when they called this movie clichéd and hackneyed. But there was a reason for those clichés: Sometimes they actually worked. Next time this one shows up on cable, put your feet up, put your mind on hold and let yourself enjoy the darned thing.
I would listen to Frances Langford sing the Albanian phone book. Here we have Frances set in a movie that is perfect for her. Looking absolutely beautiful, appealing, sounding like the Golden voiced song bird that she is. Her voice is almost too beautiful, her delicate phrasing along with her melting pianissimo's makes the heart flutter. Of all the great female singers of the 30's and 40's Frances, all five feet of her, stands head and shoulders above the rest. Frances isn't just a 'pleasant little snack,' she's a full course meal. You keep rooting for her and the flier to get together. There is just enough mischief to keep you guessing. The movie is what it is, an entertaining, morale boosting romp, where all ends well. See this movie, by all means, and be transported into a different time and place
I am a great fan of Anthony Mann because of his brilliant and
inventive, sometimes scary noirs. I knew he'd directed other types of
movies but this is the first (other than his later Westerns and 1950s
stuff) I've seen.
This is a very appealing romantic comedy. Frances Langford was no great actress but she had a pretty mezzo. She is a little like Doris Day, it seems, and a little like the great Anita Ellis.
Russell Wade: Why didn't this guy have a major career? He is very good here, as he is in "The Ghost Ship." And I almost didn't recognize Jane Greer as his bitchy society-girl fiancée! She is (as always, except in a 1950s comedy whose name blessedly escapes me) wonderful. She seemed best in noirs, as bad girls with no conscience. Here she is a rich girl with no conscience.
This has the same structure as classic noirs. It is told in flashback. I found the movie appealing from start to finish.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After seeing "Career Girl" the other day - I can honestly say this film
is tons better. The only thing that didn't change was that Iris Adrian
was still her best pal and still cracking those one liners. With RKO's
better production values ("Career Girl" was a PRC production and it
showed) Frances Langford looked a million bucks. Having Anthony Mann as
director didn't hurt either.
Bamboo Blonde is a big cosmetic company and the story is told in flashback to a reporter who comes for a story.
Captain Pat Ransom (Russell Wade) is stood up by his fiancée, Eileen (a gorgeous Jane Greer in an early part) - he then meets Louise (Frances Langford), a singer at a club and together they have a wonderful night. When he has to rejoin his crew she plys him with magazines and gumdrops - she's a grand gal. They go to a photo booth and later back at the base an artist paints her picture on their plane and christens her "The Bamboo Blonde". When the plane becomes a famous bomber, Louise's manager decides to cash in on the name by billing her as "The Bamboo Blonde". Pat and Louise meet again when the bomber goes on a nationwide tour. True love doesn't run smooth and Eileen is there to put a spanner in the works.
This film ended rather suddenly as well, with Eileen revealing her true colours when she doesn't invite Pat's parents to a big party. The cosmetic empire was obviously an after thought.
You view a Frances Langford film to hear her beautiful voice and sing she does. "I'm Good For Nothing But Love", "I'm Dreaming Out Loud", "Moonlight Over the Islands" and "Right Along About Evening" are far superior songs than any in "Career Girl". Miss Langford is far better photographed in this film as well - she is ravishing.
As a masterclass in what a great auteur can do with trite, uncharacteristic material, 'The Bamboo Blonde' is a must see. With a bizarre mixture of war propaganda, romantic comedy and musical, Mann manages to offer a prototype of the frayed masculinity so familiar from his noirs, Westerns and historical epics (see the final third, the ritual humiliation of the amiable hero); as well as his subversive interest in signs (see especially the musical number where the heroine walks through a landscape of labelled props), and the gaping difference between their value and the reality they hide. All this AND Jane Greer, as duplicitous a nay-sayer here to American masculinity as she would be a year later in the greatest ever noir, 'Out of the Past'.
Hollywood was turning out these slightly built musicals by the score during the war. Though this one wasn't released until mid-'46, it has all the markings. Hotshot bomber pilot Pat (Wade) meets nightclub singer Louise (Langford) and, guess what, they fall in love. Trouble is he's already engaged to conniving, snooty Eileen (Greer) who won't let him go. So romantic complications ensue. In between these, Langford gets to warble a few tunes, while the fast- talking Edwards gets to act the bigshot promoter. Add the always wise-cracking Iris Adrian as somebody or other named Montana, and you've got an entertaining cast. Sure, it's all forgotten 10-minutes later, but in the meantime, the shenanigans go down like a pleasant little snack.
The Bamboo Blonde came out in 1946 just past the era of World War II
when this story would still have an appeal. It's a minor league musical
with one of the major league vocalists of the day Frances Langford.
Russell Wade a young pilot assigned a new crew is in his last night in the states and he meets up with Frances Langford, singer in a struggling nightclub owned by Ralph Edwards. On his last night state side they have an innocent fling and he goes off to war with her picture and the reputation of a lady killer. Wade's also slightly engaged to Jane Greer.
But after a run of bad luck the crew paints Langford's picture on the fuselage and the plane starts racking up zeroes with Memphis Belle like clockwork. Langford becomes a celebrity due to the Army Air Corps publicity machine. She's also quite the inspiration to our fighting men.
The film is narrated in flashback by Ralph Edwards who's turned The Bamboo Blonde into a cottage industry. Some forgettable songs by an unforgettable singer. It's a pleasant piece of post war fluff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Directed by Anthony Mann, known mostly for working with James Stewart
on (primarily) Westerns like The Naked Spur (1953), this film stars
singer Frances Langford in the title role, Ralph Edwards, Russell Wade
and Jane Greer. Based on Wayne Whittaker's story, this slightly above
average B musical romance features a screenplay by Olive Cooper and
The film opens with businessman Eddie Clark (Edwards) telling a reporter the story behind his conglomerate of products branded "Bamboo Blonde". Patrick Ransom, Jr., son of "the Ransoms", a wealthy couple in New York, is about to join the war in the Pacific as the new Captain of a B-29 crew, one that has been together for some time. He is naturally apprehensive about the assignment as their new skipper, wondering if they'll accept him, and is also dismayed that his socialite fiancée (Greer) is not there with his parents to see him off. Though his folks don't really care for her, they've kept it to themselves. When he phones her, she says that she can't make it; she doesn't, however, tell him it's because she'd rather go to a party ... without him.
Wanting to ditch him, a member of his crew tells him they are all meeting at Eddie's club, which unbeknownst to him is actually off limits to serviceman. When he arrives, he sees that the establishment is virtually empty. Before he is seen by the M.P.'s in Eddie's office, Louise, the nightclub singer played by Langford, hides him in her dressing room. Much to his enjoyment (and ours?), she sings a song which he is able to watch through the curtains and, upon learning that the club is "out of bounds", he then exits out the backdoor. When Louise is leaving the club through same door, he is still there, having just figured out that he was dumped by his crew. She offers to take him to dinner and does, at a down home place called "Mama's". They have a wonderful time, though when Patrick tells Louise he lives on a farm, she assumes he's a farmer and he doesn't enlighten her further.
Two hours later, Patrick and Louise are back at the station and he notices a photo booth, insisting that she sit for an instant picture, which she does. Then, when he's kissing her goodbye, his whole crew witnesses the event, whistling and applauding. Unfortunately, the ace crew he inherited has a string of mishaps and fails to succeed immediately under their new skipper. One of the crew hatches an idea to paint the face of (who they assume is) the Captain's girlfriend, the blonde Louise, on the body of sarong-clad girl on the nose of the plane ... for luck! Since Patrick is too embarrassed that he doesn't even know the girl's name, the crew dubs her the "Bamboo Blonde". And, of course, the good luck charm works. In fact, Captain Patrick's B-29 becomes the most successful bomber in the squadron. Once the news of this reaches the home front, Eddie sees it as an opportunity to market his club with Louise as the "Bamboo Blonde" which, though she too is embarrassed, he does and to great success.
The Armed Forces then decides to bring the "Bamboo Blonde" and its crew back home to sell war bonds across the country. Wanting as much publicity as possible, they (including Eddie) arrange a big welcome home party and a reunion for Patrick and Louise, who are both thinking they got the other into something undesirable. Patrick's "fiancee", Eileen (Greer), suddenly becomes interested in him again, now that he's a war hero, and decides to get him back. She goes to the festivities with the intent to disrupt things, and succeeds by whisking him away. Later though, with his mother's assistance, Patrick is able to escape Eileen and return to find Louise at "Mama's" and the two of them pick up where they left off.
There is some more drama, however, instigated by Eileen, who doesn't give up easily. But things end up pretty much where one expects them to in this one.
Anthony Mann, of all people, shows a very capable hand with the musical form in this RKO B, a very-end-of-the-war mixture of patriotism, class consciousness, and utter nonsense. Among its virtues: Frances Langford, always likable and singing up a storm; Iris Adrian, Pauline Kael's favorite sarcastic sidekick of the '40s; Ralph Edwards, showing surprising pre-"This Is Your Life" comic deftness as a scheming agent; and Jane Greer, as Russell Wade's bitch-girlfriend, as stock-character a villainess as you'll ever see. The songs aren't much, but Frances does nicely by "Good for Nothing' But Love" (twice), and a South Sea Islands production number is hilariously, endearingly tacky, with chorus girls slinking about in godawful choreography. The story has loose ends that aren't tied neatly together, and it ends very abruptly, but it's an enjoyable low- budget programmer that fairly screams 1946.
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