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One of several "fringe" musicals in the MGM canon, meaning dramas or comedies that feature one or more musical numbers, but not enough to qualify it as a proper musical. The Strip (1951) actually includes a great deal of music - including several drum solos by Mickey Rooney, floor show routines by Sally Forrest, and songs performed by Vic Damone, Monica Lewis, Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong, one of which would grow into a standard, "A Kiss to Build a Dream On." But the musical numbers are all presentational, as opposed to springing from the the plot, so the film is often bypassed by critics and historians in their discussion of the movie musical. See more »
After the dance number with Jane and the three guys with serving trays, they place the trays behind him and the sticks on the bottom they held while dancing were clearly visible, but cut to the next shot and the trays are flat on the floor. See more »
Los Angeles, 5 AM. In another few hours, most of the 4 million people in the county will be going to work. Those are the Hollywood Hills and that's The Strip. It's just a piece of land that runs a mile and a half through Hollywood. The Sheriff's office watches over it.
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The Strip marked Mickey Rooney's return to MGM after he had left in 1948 and the property was considerably down from what he was used to. Still The Strip is a nifty little noir film from MGM's B Picture unit that managed to earn itself one Academy Award nomination.
In The Strip Mickey finds himself a returning Korean War veteran who wants to get back into civilian life and he meets up with gangster James Craig, a rather smooth individual who 'sells insurance'. Mickey works for him in some non-violent occupations and Craig actually lets him leave to pursue his real dream of being a drummer. But Mickey finds himself falling big time for Craig's girlfriend Sally Forrest and that's where his problems begin.
The film is structured like Mildred Pierce with Mickey hauled into police headquarters because one of the cast has been found murdered and another hanging on for dear life. He relates his story to detective Tom Powers and we see the tale unfold.
The Strip is also a nice look at the jazz club life in Los Angeles of that period. Where Rooney winds up working is William Demarest's jazz club on Sunset Boulevard better known as The Strip. The film also gives us an exhibition of one of Mickey Rooney's many talents, that of a drummer. He shows that if he pursued and concentrated on that he could have been another Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa. And the chance to jam with such people as Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden must have been what sold the Mick on doing this film.
Guest starring in The Strip are singers Vic Damone and Monica Lewis, but the best thing about The Strip is the song A Kiss To Build A Dream On. That was the last song written by the celebrated Tin Pan Alley duo of Harry Ruby and Bert Kalmar. It was an unfinished theme because Kalmar had died a few years earlier. To finish the lyric Ruby called on none other than Oscar Hammerstein, II and the combined talents of those three people earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for 1951. It lost however to In The Cool Cool Cool Of The Evening, Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman's hit from Here Comes The Groom. Louis Armstrong made a big hit record of it back in that day, you could hear it on jukeboxes for years.
I'm sure it was of some satisfaction to Rooney that he made a small B film so much better with his incredible talent for his former home studio. That and a wonderful song attached to The Strip make it fine entertainment still.
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