50 Movie Pack Classic Musicals, Disc 10

If it seems as though not much time has gone by since Disc 9, there’s a simple reason: The first two movies on this disc were repeats from the Family Classics pack, and I didn’t watch them a second time–although I watched the first quarter of Royal Wedding again because it’s such a delight. Expect Disc 11 soon, for the same reason: both movies on Side A are repeats.

Royal Wedding, 1951, color, Stanley Donen (dir.), Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Sarah Churchill, Keenan Wynn. 1:33.

[Note: This movie was also in the Family Classics megapack and the review that follows is from that copy. The movie is such a treat that I watched part of it again; the color and sound are both fine.] Fred Astaire dancing on the walls, on the ceiling, and on a cruise ship dance floor in heavy seas—with Jane Powell, who’s very good. Excellent print through most of the movie (with slight damage in a few minutes), and a wonderful movie—not much of a plot (and Peter Lawford didn’t exactly set the screen on fire with his thespian abilities), but great dancing, fine singing, and just plain charming. Technicolor, generally vivid color. $2.00

The Pied Pier of Hamelin, 1957, color, Bretaigne Windust (dir.), Van Johnson, Claude Raines, Jim Backus, Kay Starr, Doodles Weaver. 1:29 [1:27]

[Also in the Family Classics megapack and not newly reviewed.] Made for TV? While the print’s generally very good, there are quite a few little gaps—more disturbing than usual since this is a musical. Van Johnson has two roles (one of them the Pied Piper). The conceit here is that the music is all by Grieg. The problem here is that it’s a lackluster picture. OK, but no more than that. $0.75.

Wild Guitar, 1962, b&w, Ray Dennis Teckler (dir.), Arch Hall Jr., Nancy Czar, Arch Hall Sr., Ray Dennis Steckler. 1:32 [1:29].

Remember Eegah? (C&I 6:12, October 2006) It was a thoroughly lame “scifi” movie slightly redeemed by Richard Kiel (Jaws in Moonraker) as the slightly pre-human title character. It was considerably less redeemed by an untalented and not wildly attractive teenager who tended to break out in song at various intervals, mostly sappy ballads. That teenager was Arch Hall Jr., and the director (and, I believe, producer) was his father, Arch Hall Sr., who also acted in the film.

So here we have the same father-son team (although Hall Sr. found a different director), the same mediocre ballads—one of them literally the same—and a picture about corrupt music managers that might have promise if it wasn’t such dreck. Arch Hall Jr. plays a kid who blows into LA from South Dakota with a guitar and $0.15—and immediately Makes It Big, albeit with a crooked promoter (his father) and the promoter’s gunslinging evil sidekick (played by the director). Nancy Czar is, of course, the beauty who falls for him despite silly obstacles (she’s a fine ice skater, based on one of the film’s better sequences). There are also a trio of would-be crooks who make the Three Stooges look like Ivy Leaguers. “Wild” is about as far from this kid’s guitar stylings as you can get: He’s all swoony moony June. Amusing dreck—but still dreck. $1.00.

Murder with Music, 1941, b&w, George P. Quigley (dir.), Nellie Hill, Bob Howard, Noble Sissle & orchestra. 0:59 [0:57].

A bunch of good music from little-heard musical groups—and a plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s another all-black movie (Nellie Hill was also in Killer Diller, reviewed in C&I 7.5, in a smaller role). Unfortunately, the first half is choppy—those missing two minutes seem to be a half-second at a time, through enough musical and plot sections to make viewing difficult. Too bad; the second half’s better and the music (and one dance number) is excellent. Even with those flaws, it’s worth $1.00.

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