11 user 4 critic

Tin Pan Alley (1940)

Songwriters Calhoun and Harrigan get Katie and Lily Blane to introduce a new one. Lily goes to England, and Katy joins her after the boys give a new song to Nora Bayes. All are reunited ... See full summary »


Walter Lang


Robert Ellis (screen play), Helen Logan (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alice Faye ... Katie Blane
Betty Grable ... Lily Blane
Jack Oakie ... Harry Calhoun
John Payne ... Skeets Harrigan
Allen Jenkins ... Casey
Esther Ralston ... Nora Bayes
The Nicholas Brothers ... Dance Specialty
Ben Carter ... Boy
John Loder ... Reggie Carstair
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Joe Codd
Fred Keating ... Harvey Raymond
Billy Gilbert ... Sheik
Lillian Porter Lillian Porter ... Telephone Operator
Princess Vanessa Ammon Princess Vanessa Ammon ... Specialty
The Brian Sisters The Brian Sisters ... Specialty (as Brian Sisters)


Songwriters Calhoun and Harrigan get Katie and Lily Blane to introduce a new one. Lily goes to England, and Katy joins her after the boys give a new song to Nora Bayes. All are reunited when the boys, now in the army, show up in England. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Musical | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

29 November 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Vida é uma Canção See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


After the huge success of Down Argentine Way (1940), a part was quickly written into this movie for Betty Grable. See more »


Spoofed in Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943) See more »


Written by Geoffrey O'Hara
Sung by Jack Oakie many times using different lyrics throughout picture and he finally comes up with original lyrics at the end
Sung and danced to by Alice Faye (uncredited) and Betty Grable (uncredited) with modified lyrics on stage
Used as background music occasionally
Sung by returning marching doughboys at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Alice and her singing Ty
7 June 2004 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Tin Pan Alley was the first try at a successful experiment Darryl Zanuck was trying. An actor who was as good looking as Tyrone Power and could contribute musically to the film. He found one in John Payne this was the first of four films that Payne and Faye did together. They were scheduled to do a fifth with The Dolly Sisters, but Alice retired after being offered that script.

Payne slipped very well into Ty Power's hero/heel character that he patented at 20th Century Fox. Payne's character Skeets Harrigan and his partner Jack Oakie are trying to hit it big in the music publishing industry pre World War I. He meets Alice Faye and her sister Betty Grable doing a vaudeville act and he falls for Faye bigtime. He loves her, but he wants success more. How they resolve their ambitions is crux of the movie.

Alice Faye and Betty Grable in their only film together play the Blane sisters. Alice is in good voice as always and she gets the best songs in the film. Payne partners her in the film's best number America I Love You and he also reprises with her in the only original song for the film, You Say The Sweetest Things, Baby.

You Say The Sweetest Things Baby was written by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Mack Gordon. Gordon had written with Harry Revel a whole group of songs that Faye introduced. But Revel left Fox and Darryl Zanuck teamed Gordon with Warren who had just left Warner Brothers. It was a felicitous teaming and Gordon and Warren wrote a whole group of some of the best loved tunes of the 40s, Chatanooga Choo Choo being the most famous and also You'll Never Know, probably Faye's best loved song.

In watching films like Tin Pan Alley something is lost unless you're an amateur historian like me. Esther Ralston does a cameo as Nora Bayes who was one of the best loved vaudeville stars pre-World War I. In 1940 people still knew who Nora Bayes was. Now I'm sure she draws a great big "who" from most people if they're asked who she is. A key scene in the movie is after Faye has delivered a smash version of America I Love You, Payne gives in to Nora Bayes request for the song because of his ambition. That's totally lost on younger viewers.

Actually Nora Bayes did introduce a very famous World War I era song, written by a guy who normally introduced his own material. She gave the first public performance of Over There written by George M. Cohan and documented nicely in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

You never ever go wrong watching an Alice Faye film.

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