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Not entirely heavenly, but not one to turn the tables on
While not a great film, 'Sing Baby Sing' regardless has many pleasures, more so than caveats. Not one of my favourites when it comes to musicals and films, but there are also a million things worse with which to spend your time with.
Getting the debits out of the way, the story is wafer-thin which would have been forgivable but it's also same-old-same-old and utter nonsense often. The Ritz Brothers' opening routine does go on too long, and while amazingly athletic it's not a sequence that burns in the memory forever and not as funny as it could have been. Ted Healy is wasted, with only his magic trick properly registering, due to the Ritz Brothers, Patsy Kelly and Gregory Ratoff having more to do and in the case of Kelly and Ratoff their material is broader.
Had mixed feelings on the Ritz Brothers in their film debut. They are admittedly incredibly athletic and there are some very funny moments, however they are used too much, a couple of their scenes go on too long and disrupt the story's flow and they do tend to try too hard, which also makes some of their slapstick comedy annoying and overdone.
On the other hand, Alice Faye is charm personified and sings sensually and beautifully in "You Turned the Tables on Me". Adolphe Menjou is also hilarious in a John Barrymore-inspired role, especially when quoting Shakespeare in a hospital. Kelly and Ratoff have broad comedy that could have been overplayed, bizarre or irritating, instead they have a ball with it and are lots of fun.
Tony Martin turns up in a somewhat randomly placed but quite touchingly pleasant scene with him singing the film's best song (and all of them, while not timeless, are lovely with no obvious misfires) "When Did You Leave Heaven", which was also unsurprisingly Oscar-nominated. Brisk pacing and direction, elegant production values and a script that is not only funny and the right side of sweet but properly allows all involved to have fun with it and not hide behind.
On the whole, 'Sing Baby Sing' may not be entirely heavenly, but it is also definitely not one to turn the tables on. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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