Second Chorus, 1940, b&w, H.C. Potter (dir.), Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard, Artie Shaw, Charles Butterworth, Burgess Meredith. 1:24.
The timeless Fred Astaire and a very young Burgess Meredith as two â€œfriendlyâ€-rival musicians whoâ€™ve managed to stay in college, running a collegiate band, for seven years. They hire a gorgeous (and very effective) manager, somehow both graduate, and both try to get into Artie Shawâ€™s band, sabotaging each other along the way. Some slapstick, decent plot, lots of Shawâ€™s music and some other good numbers, and thereâ€™s a little dancing in there too. $1.50.
Trocadero, 1944, b&w, William Nigh (dir.), Rosemary Lane, Johnny Downs, Ralph Morgan, Sheldon Leonard, Marjorie Manners, Cliff Nazarro. 1:14 [1:08]
This one has an actual plot, albeit told entirely in flashbacks. Tony Rocadero leaves his restaurant/night club to his (adopted?) kids, who have trouble making a go of it. But they get some good advice and book some newer jazz/swing performers. Along the way, just as theyâ€™re about to shut down, one who has his eyes on the woman manager offers to finance a rebuilding and wants a bigger, fancier sign with hotter nameâ€”and Tony Rocaderoâ€™s becomes the Trocadero. Interesting variety of music, but this oneâ€™s as much plot as it is musical. Downgraded for soundtrack problems. $1.25.
People Are Funny, 1946, b&w, Sam White (dir.), Jack Haley, Helen Walker, Rudy Vallee, Ozzie Nelson, Art Linkletter, Frances Langford. 1:33 [1:27].
Another â€œfriendlyâ€ rivals situation, with two radio producers (Nelson one of them) trying to sell a show to a grumbly sponsor (Vallee, who sings once), both trying to work from a premise involving the ordinary folks in a small town. After various hijinks, â€œPeople are Funnyâ€ is born. Running gag with one musical group that keeps trying to audition for one producerâ€”unfortunately, once in blackface. Decent plot, decent music, nothing special. I wonder whatâ€™s in the missing six minutesâ€¦ $1.25.
Doll Face, 1945, b&w, Lewis Seiler (dir.), Vivian Blaine, Dennis Oâ€™Keefe, Perry Como, Carmen Miranda, Martha Stewart. 1:20 [1:18].
Letâ€™s see: A musical based on a play written by Gypsy Rose Lee, telling the story of a burlesque star who writes a book (or, rather, works with a ghostwriter, thus establishing romantic tension with her producer/manager/boyfriend Oâ€™Keefe) to show sheâ€™s classy enough for the legit stageâ€”and winds up doing a Broadway show based on the story she wrote. Self-referential as all get out, and well done to boot. (Carmen Mirandaâ€™s character makes a deprecating joke when someone compares her to Carmen Mirandaâ€¦) Good musical numbers including some fully-staged showpieces. Obvious missing frames and bad cuts lower this to $1.25.