Classic Musicals 50 Movie Pack, Disc 5

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 “friendly”-rival musicians who’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 Shaw’s band, sabotaging each other along the way. Some slapstick, decent plot, lots of Shaw’s music and some other good numbers, and there’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 they’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 name—and Tony Rocadero’s becomes the Trocadero. Interesting variety of music, but this one’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 “friendly” 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, “People are Funny” is born. Running gag with one musical group that keeps trying to audition for one producer—unfortunately, once in blackface. Decent plot, decent music, nothing special. I wonder what’s in the missing six minutes… $1.25.

Doll Face, 1945, b&w, Lewis Seiler (dir.), Vivian Blaine, Dennis O’Keefe, Perry Como, Carmen Miranda, Martha Stewart. 1:20 [1:18].

Let’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 O’Keefe) to show she’s classy enough for the legit stage—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 Miranda’s character makes a deprecating joke when someone compares her to Carmen Miranda…) Good musical numbers including some fully-staged showpieces. Obvious missing frames and bad cuts lower this to $1.25.

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