50 Movie Pack Classic Musicals, Disc 9

Side A of this disc contains Soundies Festival and Soundies Cavalcade—but those titles are artificial, appearing only on the sleeve and as menu slides to cover the six “soundies” included—six very brief (one-reel or two-reel) musical shorts, all featuring black performers. So while there are eight rather than four reviews here, six of the eight are for shorts.

Mr. Adam’s Bomb, 1949, b&w, Eddie Green (dir.), Gene Ware, Jessie Grayson, Mildred Boyd. 0:20.

Silly but cute comedy, really not much more than a sketch. Really not much to say. I’ll give it $0.25.

Bubbling Over, 1934, b&w, Leigh Jason (dir.), Ethel Waters, Southernaires, Hamtree Harrington, Frank L. Wilson. 0:20

Another sketch, although fairly well developed for its brief length. Scratchy video and sound. $0.25.

Open the Door, Richard and Answer to Open the Door, Richard, 1945. William Forest Crouch (dir.), Dusty Fletcher, Stepin Fetchit. 0:09 + 0:10

The last short in Soundies Festival is Open the Door, Richard—a remarkable 9-minute drunk-act monologue by Dusty Fletcher. But in IMDB, that title yields what’s here (as the first short in Soundies Cavalcade) as Answer to Open the Door, Richard, here two minutes shorter than the IMDB summary. This one’s an extended music piece with a singing jazz group and back-and-forth between Dusty Fletcher (the drunk on the sidewalk, but now he’s standing) and Stepin Fetchit (Richard, not all that chipper himself but just married and not about to open that door). The second part’s seriously choppy, but I’ll give the combination $0.50.

Murder in Swing Town, 1937, b&w, Arthur Dreifuss (dir.), Les Hite and his orchestra, June Richmond. 0:10.

This one isn’t even in IMDB—not surprisingly. It’s basically two musical numbers with a vague semblance of a plot mixed in. Choppiness doesn’t help—but I’ll give it $0.25.

Boogie-Woogie Dream, 1944, b&w, Hans Burger (dir.), Lena Horne, Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson, Teddy Wilson and his band. 0:13.

Definitely the highlight of this side. The plot, such as it is, has a posh couple (Russell Morrison and Virginia Pine) falling asleep at a nightclub as it closes—and the dishwashwer (Lena Horne) fantasizes with a couple of other cleanup folks (Ammons, Johnson) about singing and playing with Teddy Wilson. Mostly music, and great music at that. For a change, the video and sound are pretty good. This one gets $0.75—which for 13 minutes isn’t bad.

Reaching for the Moon, 1930, b&w, Edmund Goulding (dir.), Douglas Fairbanks, Bebe Daniels, Edward Everett Horton, Claud Allister, Bing Crosby. 1:30 or 1:14 or 1:06 [1:06]

This should be a screwball musical comedy based on Irving Berlin’s musical—except that in this version, only one song remains, more than 44 minutes into the movie. So it really isn’t a musical—but it’s loads of fun, with the senior Douglas Fairbanks acquitting himself as a swashbuckling investor (just before the crash) who doesn’t deal with ladies very well. Mostly set on a cruise ship. Art deco lettering throughout—in the hotels, on Wall Street, on the ship—adds an odd air, but this isn’t meant to be taken seriously in any case. I believe Bing Crosby does one verse of the one song, but he’s good while he’s there. $1.25.

Mr. Imperium, 1951, color, Don Hartman (dir.), Lana Turner, Ezio Pinza, Marjorie Main, Barry Sullivan, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Debbie Reynolds. 1:27.

This is more like it: most definitely a musical (although Debbie Reynolds—18 at the time—doesn’t sing, and Lana Turner’s songs are dubbed by another singer) and a romance. Turner’s a singer, later a movie star; Pinza’s a crown prince, later king. They meet, fall in love, are separated for 12 years, meet again (this time in California), fall in love again—and are separated again, but we assume it will all work out. Not great, but good (although the heat between Pinza and Turner is room temperature at best), and both color and sound are quite good. $1.50.

2 Responses to “50 Movie Pack Classic Musicals, Disc 9”

  1. Jonsi says:

    I was doing a Stepin Fetchit search and saw this page. Is the following Fletcher/Fetchit combo available for sale?
    Open the Door, Richard and Answer to Open the Door, Richard, 1945. William Forest Crouch (dir.), Dusty Fletcher, Stepin Fetchit. 0:09 + 0:10

  2. walt says:

    Sure–as part of the 50 Movie Pack Classic Musicals. Overstock has it for $16 and I’m sure there are other sources. Otherwise, check IMDB for availability.