Friday, September 29, 2006


This is perhaps the most interesting of the Kay Kyser films, mostly because it sticks closely to the world of showbiz and feels like it could have been a documentary of a real wartime tour by a dance band of the era, except for the Nazi spy subplot. The film follows the band on a worldwide tour to entertain Allied troops; they begin in Australia and have stopovers in India, China, Egypt, and Liberia. Much of the film consists of songs and comedic bits performed onstage by the band and guest celebrities Joan Davis and Mischa Auer, playing themselves. Davis is amusing, but the dour-looking Auer, a decent comic actor in films such as MY MAN GODFREY and YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, seems uncomfortable doing stand-up type routines. Between the band's appearances in front of soldiers, a couple of threadbare plots unfold. One centers on a young actress, Marcy McGuire, playing what I assume is a fictionalized version of herself, who stows away with the band when they leave Australia. She eventually gets to perform onstage, her highlight being a cute patter song, "The Moke from Shomokin" (which she sings looking a bit bug-eyed), but soon tragedy strikes her family and she has to learn the lesson that, in her chosen profession, the show must go on. The other plot has Kyser and Auer getting involved with an exotic Countess (Joan Valerie), not realizing that she's a spy who's trying to pass on secret plans hidden in a flashy ring. There is a particularly cute song, "Roodle-ee-doo," which consists of a string of then-current slang phrases, and an "inspiring" song, "Great News Is in the Making," which is sung at the end of each of their shows. Robert Armstrong plays the general who has to break bad news to McGuire, and Kyser regular Ish Kibble does his usual corny jokes. [TCM]

No comments: