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Two Tickets to Broadway was to be Howard Hughes's answer to MGM type
musicals and in fact he engaged the two leads from MGM, Tony Martin and
Janet Leigh. The usual criticism was voiced with Martin being 15 years
older than Leigh, but in this case it works because part of the plot is
fresh faced Ms. Leigh avoiding being taken in by older Broadway
No memorable songs were written by composers Jule Styne and Leo Robin for this film and that's a pity because if a hit had come out of it, the film would be better remembered. Martin, I'm sure realized no hits were coming out of this and he probably had two of his own songs put in there. He had hit records around this time of the Prologue from Pagliacci and There's No Tomorrow (O Sole Mio). He performs them well.
I would love to know if Janet Leigh was dubbed and by who. I don't believe she ever sang in any other film. For that reason I suspect a dubbing if for no other reason that she wouldn't want to be going up against a singer with as powerful a voice as Tony Martin.
Ironic that two of the players in this Ann Miller and Janet Leigh died this year. Nobody had to worry about dubbing Ann Miller in any department. She performs her big number, Let the Worry Bird Worry for You in classic style.
Bob Crosby who by that time was known as the afternoon Crosby because his radio and later TV show came on in the afternoon unlike his legendary brother. Being the Bing Crosby fan that I am, I have a soft spot in my heart for his Let's Make Comparison where he's comparing himself to brother Bing. Bob led a pretty good jazz band at that time and had a modest career in B films.
Eddie Bracken who was so good in his Paramount films was cloying and annoying in this one. His machinations trying to get his clients on the Bob Crosby show were downright stupid here and not terribly funny.
The ending though was an unintentional hoot. Janet Leigh comes from Pelican Falls, Vermont and early in the film she's given a send off by the high school band performing their alma mater song. I thought the ending with the high school band, interrupting Bob Crosby's broadcast to reprise their high school song was ridiculous. Was that Howard Hughes's idea? Well he didn't do as much damage here as he did on The Outlaw.
The film had a lot of potential and it could have been done better even at RKO, but I suspect Howard Hughes meddled a bit too much here.
The initial commenter wondered if Janet Leigh was dubbed in this film since he couldn't remember her singing in any of her other pictures. Well, she did sing in other films, most notably in "Bye Bye Birdie", and "My Sister Eileen", and while she was not known as an accomplished singer or dancer, she managed to give fairly good performances in both films and to demonstrate a competent ability in numerous guest appearances on variety television programs of the '50's and the '60's. I hope this will help to answer your questions. You might also look at her work in "Rogue Cop", where she plays a singer, and "Walking my Baby Back Home", a musical she made with Donald O'Connor, as well as "Fearless Fagan" where again, she is a singer/entertainer. She speaks at length about her musical experiences in her autobiography, "There really was a Hollywood", and gives a great accounting of her early career.
First of all, to those upset about the Indian number - get a life. This
was '51. Don't take it so seriously - and keep away from pictures with
Mantan Moreland, etc.
Then there are the criticisms about Tony Martin. He has the dark look, so some people automatically assume he should portray gangsters. Prejudice, prejudice against dark-haired people. Tsk.
Martin sang grand opera in this movie, pop songs, novelties and did beautifully with all of them. Not all of the music was memorable, but even the songs that might be described as mediocre were beautifully presented. The girls were attractive and personable. Miss Leigh was a doll and, yes, she did her own singing and dancing.
No one can knock Ann Miller. What a great talent. Speaking of talent, The Charlivels were outstanding as a high wire act, and as dancers.
Interesting casting was Max Baer's bro, Buddy, also a boxer, as a tough swabbie.
The Bob Crosby number, where he compares himself with brother Bing was very well done - real life situation. The one thing I missed - I wish his band had played some of its trademark Dixieland. OOoops - is that word offensive to northern ears? The plot was ancient but, who cares. Howard Hughes put this together and came up with a fun, pleasant movies.
Old-fashioned without being embarrassing, "Broadway" features Janet Leigh as a sparkling small town lass who moves to the Big Apple to work in theater, falling in league with other young hopefuls and staging their own revue. Not too far-fetched(Carol Burnett did the same thing in real-life)and Janet bounces happily throughout. Not really remarkable, but a nice time-filler. Bob Crosby pokes fun at older brother Bing in the film's most self-conscious moment. **1/2 from ****
Designed partially as a showcase for RKO owner Howard Hughes
girlfriend, Janet Leigh. Hughes could afford to import quite a lot of
first rate talent in the effort, mostly from best in the musical
business MGM. Current or former MGM talent included Leigh, Ann Miller,
Gloria DeHaven, and Tony Martin, along with musical number director
Busby Berkeley. Leigh proved herself competent as a singer and dancer,
and is certainly pleasant in personality and a pleasure to look at.
In the musical numbers featuring the four "girls", Gloria DeHaven is the standout (sorry Ann Miller fans). DeHaven sings superbly, handles the dancing with aplomb, has just the right mix of charisma, humor, sincerity, and takes a back seat to no one in the beauty department.
I thought the musical numbers well staged and mostly very pleasant (exception the very banal Pellican Falls school song). The comedy of Smith and Dale, I could live without, if you'll excuse the expression. And Eddie Bracken is too frenetic and broad in his comedy for my taste.
Though none of the songs became a standard, a couple are excellent; I especially enjoyed "The Worry Bird", and "The Closer You Are" has a gorgeous melody.
All in all, the film is the equal of many of the lower budget MGM musicals, and that ain't bad at all.
Tony Martin was the only singer/actor who I EVER had a crush on, so I totally disagree with the reviewer who said that he's only fit for gangster roles (REAL women don't want a man who looks pretty like a woman)! I graduated HS in 1955, so I was younger than Janet Leigh in 51, but I loved his big hit "I get ideas". As to the film, he did not look as good as I remember in publicity pictures (there was not the extent of distribution back then so I do not remember ever seeing him in film). I agree that his acting was not superb, but not much worse than Gene Kelly, tho' the dancing could be better. In those days the studios tried to make their people as versatile as possible. I think I'll save this one on DVD just for old times sake (of my old crush) because (with that "Big Chief Hole in the Ground" musical number), it will probably not get much exposure in the future. It is not at all PC (it's almost offensive even to me). It is surely offensive to native Americans.
I hated this film when I first saw it, perhaps thanks to a truly
embarrassing performance from Tony Martin (a good singer but not the world's
Janet Leigh, Gloria de Haven, and Ann Miller want to make it big in show-business, and come through their vaudeville roots to stage a revue that they hope will be taken up by the Bob Crosby Show. There's some pretty good musical numbers along the way but the film creaks and drags badly in some sections (although the girls are consistently good). Crosby has a number all about 'brother Bing' which is fun. And there's a good support role from Eddie Bracken.
On subsequent viewings I have warmed a bit more to 'Two Tickets to Broadway'. It isn't all bad and there are certainly musicals out there which are worse. But I still can't watch Tony Martin in a number in Indian dress without cringing ...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Pelican Falls Vermont seems to have a pride that surpasses Broadway
conventions. The town band seems to think that they can interrupt the
Bob Crosby Show on television (without being stopped by security) to
honor through their silly high school sing one of their own who just
half an hour was ready to give up her dream for Broadway success. She's
Janet Leigh, playing a former majorette named Nancy who just months
before got a huge send-off from the same band and chorus who rhymed
"Mary Martin" with "Kindergarden" and "Merman" (as in Ethel) with
Ironically, the composer of that song was Jule Styne who later wrote a few songs for Ms. Martin for "Peter Pan", and of course, wrote the music for Merman's final Broadway smash, "Gypsy". This Broadway of two male vaudeville performers (Smith and Dale) who run a delicatessen and argue like an old married couple has chorus girls returning from an out of town engagement on a show boat (which sunk) and a hotel for women in show business where the ladies act out a day in the city to the tune of Rodgers and Hart's "Manhattan" (which includes, ironically, new lyrics mentioning Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific"). Any comparison between this and even early 1950's Broadway reality as as close to life as Disney is.
The musical numbers range from corny but fun ("The Worry Bird") to downright tacky ("Petrolium"). Ann Miller gets to do her traditional tap-and-twirl, while Gloria DeHaven is a bit less dainty than normal as the girlfriend of sleazy agent Eddie Bracken who lies to singer Tony Martin and the other girls about getting them a gig on the Bob Crosby television show. Barbara Lawrence, the fourth member of the team, has no other purpose than to fill out the female foursome. Pretty Technicolor is a major plus, although the television show finale, which would be black and white on the air, seems far too lavish for an early network variety show. Bob Crosby's spoof of brother Bing ("Let's Make Comparisons") is a wonderful novelty number, and a humorous acrobatic sketch is another highlight. Ironically, like the Russian ballet in "Bye Bye Birdie" (starring Ms. Leigh"), the acrobatic number is victim to foul play by Bracken so the group can get on the air without having to wait a week.
A run-of-the-mill musical with Tony Martin and Janet Leigh in the lead roles. Eddie Bracken provides semi-comic relief. You can see the hand of producer Howard Hughes in this one, with its profusion of showgirls and, for 1951, a heaping helping of skin(albeit, G-rated by today's standards).
This is not a bad musical. It's also not a good one. Tony Martin has a
solid - yet unexciting - singing voice, and Janet Leigh - of course -
cannot sing OR dance. So she was the perfect choice for a musical? It
all drifts along without offending or titillating (now and then touched
by a nice bit from Eddie Bracken, or the "Jewish" banter of the
restaurant owners), and one can watch it or not.
And then Martin appears as "Big Chief Hole-In-The-Ground" in a musical number that should be profoundly repulsive to modern audiences. Its caricature of reservation Indians as being somehow rich, due to oil being found on the land, is quite offensive when one realizes that many, many times entire tribes were moved off their land simply because it suddenly became valuable. So this bit is no longer amusing in the least. It wouldn't be any great problem (given that such casual racism pops up in a lot of older films), except that the film is so near to being empty of interest, that this concern - at least for this viewer - is downright horrifying. All the film's other problems (Janet's non-musicality, a general lack of wowser tunes, the presence of that "Dancing Loutess" Ann Miller, and a drifting filmic sensibility) fade to nothing beside this large hole in the "entertainment."
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