Nice documentary on a top leading lady of the '30s and early '40s
Though Alice Faye was alive at the time this biography was produced, she did not appear on camera. Instead, she let her friends, family, and most of all, her work do the talking. The result is a pleasant and interesting story of a wonderful 20th Century Fox star.
The narration tells of Faye's poor New York City background and her early success as a performer starting at the age of 14, as she lied about her age. After spending time as a dancer, she wound up on the radio with Rudy Vallee and eventually got her chance in Hollywood. When she got to Fox Studios, the idea was to turn her into their version of Harlow, but when Zanuck came in and the studio became 20th Century Fox, her image was changed to a more natural one. She went on to become a very big star in a series of musicals, notably "In Old Chicago," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Rose of Washington Square," "Lillian Russell," and others between the period of 1936-1945.
Faye walked out of 20th Century Fox in 1945, after seeing a rough cut of the Otto Preminger film "Dark Angel," in which she costarred with Dana Andrews. After fighting for a different kind of role, i.e., not a musical, Faye was hurt and distressed that the film had been cut to favor Linda Darnell. She left the studio forever, became a very big star on radio with her husband, Phil Harris, and didn't return to movies until 1962's State Fair. Not liking the changes in the film industry, she retired from movies for good. She had a big hit in "Good News" on the road and on Broadway, and later became a spokeswoman for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals promoting wellness for the elderly.
Faye, of course, wouldn't be the last star to make a fortune for Darryl F. Zanuck and then get short shrift. Two years later, he did the same thing to Tyrone Power, allowing him to make "Nightmare Alley" and then not promoting it and yanking it from release early. It's sad that these stars kept the studio going during hard times, only to be rewarded with bad treatment later on.
Faye enjoyed a wonderful career, however, and a wonderful home life, and we still have her movies to enjoy. Pretty, tough, smart, talented, generous, hard-working, and inspirational - you really can't ask for more than that.
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