Friday, February 22, 2002


I saw Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson star together in IT'S A GREAT FEELING, a sort of Hollywood in-joke movie where the two play themselves trying to make a movie. They had good chemistry together, but they tended to be overwhelmed by the star cameos (lots of Warners' stars including Joan Crawford, Ann Sheridan, Sydney Greenstreet, and Edward G. Robinson). This movie, made a few years earlier, is a much better showcase for them as a light musical-comedy team.

The plot is a variation on the old fashioned "Gold Diggers/Let's-put-on-a-musical!" movies. In this case, the film begins as Morgan and Carson are attempting to open a nightclub, which is situated next door to the home of a famous conductor (S. Z. 'Cuddles' Sakall). The club is shut down by Sakall's manager (Donald Woods) because he assumes Sakall will object to the loud swing music. It turns out that Sakall and his opera-singing grand-daughter (Martha Vickers) actually like the club, but the manager, who is a prissy cold fish rather incredibly engaged to Vickers, gets it closed anyway. They all work together to put on a musical and the manager and Sakall's wife (Florence Bates) try to stop that, too. The first half-hour is the most fun, as we get to know the characters. Janis Paige and Angela Greene are the two lead female singers who get into various romantic entanglements. Alan Hale is a rich Texan who pops in and out of the movie when appropriate. As the somewhat far-fetched complicaions piled up in the last half, I got bored with the plot and only stuck with it for the actors and the music.

The numbers are better than one might expect from a 40's Warners musical. One song, "A Gal in Calico" (danced by women dressed up as cows, sort of!), was nominated for an Oscar, but I preferred the first song, "I Happened to Walk Down First Street." In "A Thousand Dreams," a classical pianist and his piano levitate while he plays. In a nifty inside joke, a woman sees Sakall in the nightclub and calls him "Cuddles," which befuddles him. There's an amusing bit involving at attempt to define "canoodling," a term I've loved ever since I saw THE MUSIC MAN. The hip vs. classical plot complication, rather cliche even then, gets a nice twist when Sakall joins in on a jam session with his flute. Morgan and Carson are fun together--there's even a running gag that casts aspersions on their heterosexuality (and the movie ends with them kissing each other, not their respective girlfriends). I'm sorry they didn't star in more light musicals like this one. Very fun, for at least two-thirds of the running time.

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