Mac Brewster (Benny) is head of an advertising firm that is in debt. The million-dollar Townsend Silver contract could save the firm, but the wealthy playboy Alan Townsend (Arlen) wants an ...
See full summary »
Mac Brewster (Benny) is head of an advertising firm that is in debt. The million-dollar Townsend Silver contract could save the firm, but the wealthy playboy Alan Townsend (Arlen) wants an amateur from high society rather than a professional model to become "the Townsend Girl." Upset that she was passed over sight-unseen as a professional, Brewster's top model (Lupino) goes to Miami with plans to bump into Townsend and pass as a society debutante.Written by
During the Artists and Models Ball scene, a number of actual artists and cartoonists are briefly shown drawing Sandra Storme for charity, and the works are actually theirs. These artists include Peter Arno, McClelland Barclay, Arthur William Brown, John LaGatta, Russell Patterson, and Rube Goldberg. Goldberg is best known for the crazy mechanical contraptions he would create for cartoons, now known as "Rube Goldbergs." (The popular children's game game Mouse Trap was based on a Goldberg cartoon.) Sondra Storme was the top paid model in Great Britain at the time. See more »
A sequence showing Louis Armstrong and Martha Raye performing together was ordered removed by some southern US distributors. See more »
To call "Artists & Models" a musical would be a stretch. It's more like a mash-up of various odd musical numbers that occasionally stops for a plot.
The plot (what there is of it) involves Jack Benny as an advertising executive, trying to land a million-dollar ad buy with playboy millionaire Richard Arlen. Benny promises Arlen that the queen of the upcoming Artists & Models Ball – for which Benny is the chairman – will serve as the model in a magazine ad campaign for Arlen's silverware company. But Arlen insists his new model must be a high-society girl.
Ida Lupino, one of Benny's models, follows Arlen down to Miami, where she poses as a high-society girl, while wearing the fancy clothes borrowed from her modeling jobs. She tries to trick him into selecting her as the model for his silverware ad campaign – but of course, they end up falling in love. (There's a scene where Lupino and Arlen are standing together on the diving board of a hotel's indoor swimming pool. She's wearing a fancy dress, and he's wearing a tuxedo. Can you guess what happens next?)
The plot is a thin "clothesline" on which they've hung the most bizarre train-wreck of musical numbers ever jumbled together in a movie. We get "hillbilly" comedienne Judy Canova singing a bubble bath number. Later, she joins Ben Blue for a slip-sliding, "punch-your-sweetheart" song-&- dance. Still later, Judy joins her siblings, Anne and Zeke Canova, to sing a straight-faced version of "The Ballad of Jesse James," complete with yodeling, right in the middle of the high-society Artists & Models Ball.
There's a marionette number in which, for no discernible reason, Ben Blue dances on stage with marionette dancing girls, and a Big Band number featuring a pair of Art Deco swimmers doing a water ballet in a swimming pool. When things start getting dull, the Yacht Club Boys come charging in with a chaotic musical number, or a gypsy dance troupe, or a melee of circus performers.
The best musical number in the movie is also the most problematic. The finale, "Public Melody #1," features Martha Raye in bad blackface makeup, singing on a Harlem street with an all-black dance chorus, while Louis Armstrong plays his horn. The song itself is good, and Martha Raye's performance of it is great – but the staging of it by Vincente Minelli is dated and offensive by today's standards. (If they'd gotten somebody like Lena Horne to sing it, there wouldn't have been a problem.)
But who cares if the movie is just a mash-up? It's still fun to watch. It crams all these crappy musical numbers into 97 minutes, and keeps the numbers coming along quickly, without stopping too long for the plot. I actually enjoyed watching it, and I never found it boring or annoying, as I have with some other 1930s Hollywood musicals (i.e. the "Gold Digger" or "Big Broadcast" musicals).
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this