Classic Musicals 50 Movie Pack, Disc 4

Delightfully Dangerous, 1945, b&w, Arthur Lubin (dir.), Jane Powell, Ralph Bellamy, Constance Moore, Morton Gould and his orchestra, Arthur Treacher. 1:32. [1:30]

15-year-old Cheryl (Jane Powell) is a music student who wants to make it in theater—just like her older sister (Moore). Turns out Moore’s really a burlesque performer. Cheryl pays a surprise visit to New York. Hijinks ensue. Good musical numbers, decent plot, fine performances by all concerned—but there’s some distortion in the sound track for the first half, unfortunate for a musical. That brings it down to $1.25.

Private Buckaroo, 1942, b&w, Edward F. Cline (dir.), the Andrews Sisters, Dick Foran, Joe E. Lewis, Shemp Howard, Harry James, Donald O’Connor, Huntz Hall, Mary Wilkes, Ernest Treux. 1:08.

Shemp Howard was much better on his own than as part of the Three Stooges, in my opinion, and he shines in this wartime flick as a sergeant who has trouble with his supposed girlfriend. The real plot: Harry James gets drafted and his group all enlist to stay with their leader. There’s another draftee who’s not willing to obey orders. The plot makes as much sense as any of these war-promotion flicks, and there’s a great running gag: Harry James, an amazing trumpeter, can’t get the hang of the Army bugle. The middle Andrews Sister is a bit much for my taste, but overall there’s good non-slapstick comedy, great music, and a generally decent print. $1.50.

Stage Door Canteen, 1943, b&w, Frank Borzage (dir.), Judith Anderson, Tallulah Bankhead, Ralph Bellamy, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy, Ray Bolger, Katharine Cornell, Gracie Fields, Lynn Fontanne, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Hersholt, George Jessel, Gypsy Rose Lee, Alfred Lunt, Harpo Marx, Elsa Maxwell, Yehudi Menuhin, Ethel Merman, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, George Raft, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Ethel Waters, Johnny Weissmuller, Ed Wynn, William Demarest, Count Basie, Xavier Cugat, Benny Goodman, Kay Kyser, Guy Lombardo and many more stars of stage and screen (I’m not kidding…Peggy Lee doesn’t even get a credit). 2:12 [1:52]

First the bad news: The print isn’t as good as it might be (some ghost images), although the soundtrack’s fine—and apparently a few minutes are missing. Oh, and the plot’s not compelling. But the plot’s mostly a way to show off an astonishing cavalcade of stars, either performing on stage or acting as waiters and the like—just like the real Stage Door Canteen and Hollywood Canteen (although it’s hard to believe they got quite such an impressive concentration every night). If you know stage, screen and music of the 1940s, there’s probably another 30 people I should have listed here. Supposedly, this is Katharine Cornell’s only screen appearance (a cameo). Katharine Hepburn singing The Lord’s Prayer (very well). Yehudi Menuhin playing two numbers, one of them Flight of the Bumble Bee. Benny Goodman playing clarinet like he invented it. And so much more. Thoroughly enjoyable, wartime propaganda and all. Even with a second-rate print, this gets $2.25.

Career Girl, 1944, b&w, Wallace Fox (dir.), Frances Langford, Edward Norris, Iris Adrian, Craig Woods. 1:09. [1:07]

Three out of four ain’t bad. This is the fourth. Traditional “girl from the Midwest goes to New York to make it big on Broadway, gets her heart broken, but it works out” story, with a wealthy fiancée back home who wants her to settle down and be Mrs. Mine-manager and a theatrical boarding house full of women who keep her from giving in. There aren’t many musical numbers and they aren’t all that great; the plot doesn’t really reach resolution; but worst of all, the soundtrack’s distorted enough that the musical numbers are mildly painful. Being generous, $0.75.

4 Responses to “Classic Musicals 50 Movie Pack, Disc 4”

  1. charles henry says:

    Look again at Career Girl,Jack. Any movie with the gorgeous Frances Langford is worth viewing, indeed more than once. She lights up the screen in every scene.Her voice is golden even if the songs may not be. But who’s to say? There’s a lot of well known songs i think are junk. Oh, if Frances had only landed the lead in Love me or Leave me. But I guess at 40 she was too “old” for Hollywood. What a pity. Throw in the wise cracking Iris Adrian and you’ve got a cute little movie.

  2. walt says:

    I almost deleted the above: If you can’t even get my name right (it’s not real hard to find on any page of this blog), I’m not sure why you’re here, unless you troll for any mention of certain movie stars. (Jack? Who the hell is Jack?)

    I was reviewing the movie as presented on this disc and in this collection. The distorted soundtrack is painful, it’s not much of a musical, and I found the plot defective. Maybe a better print in a Frances Langford Collection would get a different review.

  3. Read “jack” as “dude.” Regionalism?

  4. walt says:

    Could be. My reaction would be similar.