How do you get 50 movies on 12 discs when there are exactly four each on the first 11? You guessed itâ€”six short flicks on the final disc. One of them is a small gem; the others, not so much.
Fiesta, 1941, color, LeRoy Prinz (dir.), Anne Ayars, Jorge Negrete, Armida, George Givot, Antonio Moreno, The Guadalajara Trio, JosÃ© Arias and the Tipica Orchestra of the Mexico City Police. 0:45.
Remember The Dancing Pirate (C&I 7:5, May 2007), filmed in color but only available in black and white? I said Iâ€™d love to see that one in color. Well, this somewhat similar (albeit much shorter and less complex) film, also set in a Mexican rancho and with good folkloric dancing, is in colorâ€”and spectacular original Technicolor at that, more colorful than most later movies. The plot is simple enoughâ€”the rancho ownerâ€™s niece is returning from Mexico City and her childhood sweetheart expects theyâ€™ll be married, but she shows up with a bozo hunk of a radio actor who sheâ€™s engaged toâ€¦anyway, it all works out. Almost all of the movie is music, singing and dance, all well done, in simply spectacular costumes and color. The print is in excellent shape; it almost seemed to be DVD quality. Truly a small gem. $1.50 only because itâ€™s too short for $2 or more.
Letâ€™s Go Collegiate, 1941, b&w, Jean Yarbrough (dir.), Frankie Darro, Marcia May Jones, Jackie Moran, Keye Luke, Mantan Moreland, Frank Sully, Gale Storm. 1:02
Silly college-fraternity plot based on rowing and a crook passing for a new oarsman. Not many songs, but the ones here are good. Very early Gale Storm (she was 19 at the time), and she does stand out. $1.
Up in the Air, 1940, b&w, Howard Bretherton (dir.), Frankie Darro, Marjorie Reynolds, Mantan Moreland, Gordon Jones, Lorna Gray, Tristram Coffin, Clyde Dilson. 1:02.
Apparently Darro and Moreland made a number of buddy pictures. In this case, they both work at a radio station where a mediocre singer gets shot (as, later, do a couple of others) and Darro tries to solve the crime and get on the air. Lightweight comedy, but not bad. $0.75.
Minstrel Man, 1944, b&w, Joseph H. Lewis (dir.), Benny Fields, Gladys George, Alan Dinehart, Roscoe Karns, Jerome Cowan, Judy Clark, John Raitt (as himself). 1:10 [1:03].
Two Oscar nominations, for best scoring and best original song (â€œRemember Me to Carolinaâ€), and apparently based on a real characterâ€™s success, fall from grace (after his wife dies in childbirth) and eventual redemption. Fields as Dixie Boy Johnson is less than magnetic on the screen and has an odd singing style that you may love or hate. Lots of music, to be sure, much of it very good. Whether you like this movie or not may depend on your tolerance for blackface: Fields and, later, Judy Clark as his daughter (Dixie Girl Johnson on stage), both white, both use classic blackface for their minstrel-show roles. I find that too unsettling (especially in 1944) to give the film more than $1.00.
Rhythm in the Clouds, 1937, b&w, John H. Auer (dir.), Patricia Ellis, Warren Hull, William Newell. 0:53.
Nicely done, with more than enough plot for its modest length. An aspiring songwriter cons her way into the apartment of a successful writer whoâ€™s out of town, sells her songs as being cowritten with the missing artist and somehow manages to pull things together when he returns. Good music, nicely paced, a good â€œsecond film.â€ $1.25.
Sitting on the Moon, 1936, b&w, Ralph Staub (dir.), Roger Pryor, Grace Bradley, William Newell, Henry Kolker. 0:54.
William Newell, a nervous sidekick in the previous flick, is also a sidekick this timeâ€”as a lyricist to Danny West, who falls for a failing movie star, writes her a song, makes her a success on radio but in the process winds up failing himself (aided by a bogus Mexican marriage while he was drunk). Naturally it all works out. Enough good music to make it work, but enough missing frames in the print to make it awkward. $0.75.
And that’s it for the Classic Musicals pack. Next up? Hollywood Legends. I note that Mill Creek Media is now selling 100-movie packs–each combining two of the more than two dozen 50-movie packs. Hmm…