Sunday, August 04, 2002


With a title like this, I assumed the movie would be a frothy musical comedy, but instead it's a fairly serious fictional bio-pic with very little music. Don Ameche is a Mack Sennett-like figure who pioneers slapstick comedy and bathing-beauty movies, then gets too big for his britches and falls into a career tailspin while the actress he discovered (Alice Faye, supposedly loosely based on Mabel Normand) soars to the top. Critics such as Leonard Maltin like the early parts which recreate Keystone Cop films, using actual silent celebs like Buster Keaton and Ben Turpin (and Mack Sennett appears briefly as himself), but then they claim the movie goes wrong when it gets melodramatic in the last half.

However, I liked the last half better--Ameche and Faye mostly rise to the occasion (although the situations get awfully trite). It becomes a serious SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, dealing with the transition from silent to talking pictures, though not in as much depth as RAIN. With the title, I expected lots of song and dance, but there is virtually none. Still, it was a pleasant surprise. A handsome young actor named Alan Curtis plays Faye's love interest and he doesn't have much to do except look handsome. He looked familiar; according to IMDb, he had a fairly strong career in secondary parts, although he died in his 40's after kidney surgery. He's in BUCK PRIVATES, PHANTOM LADY, SHOPWORN ANGEL, HIGH SIERRA, and HITLER'S MADMAN, all of which I've seen but in none of which can I place him. Ameche is good, but Faye is lukewarm as always; I can never quite figure out how she got the career she had.

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