New York city in the 1920s: a singer struggles to keep her boyfriend from trouble. When she makes it to Ziegfeld, he heads for five years in jail. Lots of Faye and Jolson singing. The story is so close to the true story of Fanny Brice and Nicky Arnstein (Jules W. Arndt Stein) that he sued the studio in a case that was quickly settled out of court in his favor.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SONG BY SONG...SCENE BY SCENE THE THRILL GROWS GREATER! THE STARS OF "IN OLD CHICAGO" AND "ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND" BRING YOU THEIR BIG 1939 HIT! (Print Ad-Victoria Daily Times, ((Victoria BC)) 15 June 1939) See more »
This film closely resembles the life of entertainer Fanny Brice, and Alice Faye even sings Brice's signature song, "My Man" in the film. According to Biography: Alice Faye: The Star Next Door (1996), Brice sued 20th Century Fox for $750,000. The studio benefited from the publicity generated by the lawsuit - the film became the highest grossing musical of 1939 - and eventually settled out of court with Brice for an undisclosed amount. It has also been alleged that Power's character resembles Nicky Arnstein. See more »
any similarity to real people is purely coincidental
Despite this disclaimer at the beginning of "Rose of Washington Square," Fanny Brice realized the film was about her and quickly sued 20th Century Fox. Gee, wonder what the kicker was...the good-looking con man husband who goes to jail on a bond fraud? The lead character headlining with the Ziegfield Follies? Or was it the song "My Man"? Alice Faye is very pretty as Rose in this somewhat politically incorrect film which also stars Tyrone Power and Al Jolson: There's the man who is paid to drink so he can heckle Al Jolson as part of his act, and there's Al himself in blackface with white lips up on stage singing. Nevertheless, the real story concerns the codependent relationship between Rose and Bart, her crooked husband. But it's Tyrone Power, and what woman wouldn't have loved him - in fact, what woman didn't love him in 1939? He was the number 2 box office star. He portrays the likable but sleazy character very well. In the beginning of his career a few years earlier, he did romantic comedy, then did a string of films where he was a cad, then played soldiers, and after the war, did everything - he was a young man who found himself in "The Razor's Edge," played against type in "Nightmare Alley," and period-pieced his way through Fox until his contract finally ended. In 22 years as a star, he really did every genre, and did them beautifully.
There's lots of music in this movie and a HUGE build-up to the song "My Man" before Faye ever sings it. When she does, it's not the Streisand version, but rather a torch song, sung in Faye's low, rich voice. Jolson was a terrific performer though apparently extremely egomaniacal and difficult to work with. He sings his standards: "Mammy," "California Here I Come," "Toot-toot-Tootsie," "Rockabye Your Baby," etc., and he's great. Power and Faye make a wonderful couple. And by the way, they shared the same birthday, a year apart.
This is an okay film, but it's no Alexander's Ragtime Band, which is far superior.
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