Thursday, September 12, 2002

COLLEEN (1936)

The Warner Brothers musical was definitely on its way down with this one, a rather drab affair all around. The trappings are OK, but the Busby Berkeley touch is missed and the multi-undertalented Ruby Keeler provides a vacuum at the center of the movie. There is a rather convoluted plot reminiscent of the Gold Diggers movies, except it doesn't revolve around the staging of a Broadway show. Keeler is a bookkeeper for a dress design company. She falls for Dick Powell, a businessman who is ordered by his rich but very eccentric boss (and uncle) Hugh Herbert to shut the company down. Jack Oakie (also undertalented and occasionally irritating, but serviceable here) is Keeler's con-man boyfriend, who gets sweet on golddigging Joan Blondell, who is plucked out of a chocolate factory by Herbert, who wants her to be his mistress, against the wishes of his wife, Louise Fazenda. Got it? There are rather bland songs scattered throughout, and a couple of creative dance numbers, including the finale "You Gotta Know How to Dance." Blondell and Fazenda give the movie its only real zip. If you like Herbert's befuddled and giggly schtick, you'll love him here--he does a lot of it. Marie Wilson has a small part and Ward Bond has an even smaller part as a cop. The most interesting thing about the movie is that during the credits, the actors introduce their characters through song.

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