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Plot #1 is the love triangle between two guys and one girl as they grow into adults and affiliate themselves in the new aircraft industry. Plot #2 is aircraft evolution from the days of Wilbur and Orville Wright to just prior to WWII.
William A. Wellman
According to a Paramount press release, on 28 March 1938, while waiting to be called to join Fred MacMurray and Harriet Nelson for a scene, eight-year-old actor Billy Lee had two of his teeth knocked loose by his young stand-in, Roland Smith, when the two boys simultaneously attempted to grab for a ball they were playing with - the top of Smith's head crashed into Billy's face. Director Alfred Santell had Billy whisked off to a Hollywood dentist's office in a studio car while scenes not needing Billy were filmed instead. After extracting the two drooping teeth, the dentist, Dr. Ervin Robert Barr, working from a studio still of Billy, created a removable plate for him, that was an exact match of his original teeth, by 7:00 that evening. Since Billy was needed for many scenes in the movie, Santell did not want to risk another change in his shooting schedule or a sudden, unexplained change in Billy's appearance, such as missing teeth. So Santell asked Billy to refrain from any rough-and-tumble activity and to stick to soft foods for the duration of filming, as Billy also had two loose baby teeth from before the mishap which Santell was determined would make it to the last scene. See more »
Sure, it's pretty lightweight, but like any half decent road movie it offers a more than pleasant ride. Johnny Prentice (Macmurray) tries to keep his struggling Chicago-based swing band from breaking up by convincing them they've got a shot at the legendary Cocoanut Grove in LA. The movie is basically the saga of the band getting across the US to make the Grove, in a trailer not unlike Lucy and Desi's (The Long, Long Trailer). Harriet Hilliard (of The Nelsons fame) comes on board as tutor for Johnny's adopted son, Half-pint, and naturally is soon discovered to be a fine singer who could change the fortunes of the band, especially when she unearths the hidden talents of band member Hula Harry (Harry Owens, whose orchestra provided most of the music).
What lifts this from most B-musicals of this period is a great sense of camaraderie among the musicians on the road, some delightfully eccentric characters (Ben Blue and Eve Arden as the Dancing Dilemmas; Rufe Davis, with a dizzying array of animal noises and sound effects; the child Half-pint, a demon at the drum kit) and some highly improbable scenes, verging on the bizarre, that work for comic value. And some of the songs! Thec signature tune, Says My Heart, will stick in the mind for a long time, as will a couple of the numbers done by the Yacht Club Boys (the deliberately clumsy cruise ship opener, and the OTT Four of the Three Musketeers) not to mention the two Rufe Davis songs. In between, the Hawaiian-flavoured tunes of Harry Owens and his orchestra keep the vibe well and truly on the mellow side.
Cocoanut Grove is silly, and for a road movie is somewhat studio bound, but its principals all have charm and there's enough pace to make the 90 minutes fly by. A delight!
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