Sunday, November 09, 2008


A Fox musical with the bland Alice Faye, the young Don Ameche (before he became charming) and the Ritz Brothers, who were never young or charming: should be a recipe for tedium or horror, but surprisingly, it all works pretty well in this mild but entertaining backstage story. Faye is a starving playwright (and great-granddaughter of Edgar Allan Poe) who meets a drunken playboy (Ameche) in a restaurant. She tells him about the play she's trying to sell, "North Winds," set in the Arctic, about "the vital problems that confront women in the Frozen North." Ameche is actually a successful playwright himself, but he doesn't tell her that; instead, he gets his producer (Charles Winninger) to option the (bad) play and send her a check so she won't give up and go back to her hometown. He begins squiring her about town, and when he finds out she's actually a much better singer than a writer, he has Winninger try to convince her to star in his new musical. Soon the charade is up, but Faye has fallen in love with Ameche so she agrees to do the show. Until, that is, a old pal of Ameche's (Louise Hovick, aka Gypsy Rose Lee) shows up claiming that she and Ameche were married that drunken night at the beginning of the movie. Faye, disgusted, gores back home; Ameche and Winninger rework her play into a big musical, using it bait to get her back. Of course, she hears about the play and, mad as hell, goes to Broadway to stop the show, but when she sees the ecstatic audience reaction, and when Winninger has her take to the stage for an author's bow, she gives in to success. And, of course, it turns out that Ameche was actually too drunk to sign the wedding license that night, so he's not really married to Hovick. Ah, a happy ending! Who'da thunk it?

Faye has more personality here than in some her other efforts, and the Ritz Brothers, playing themselves as featured performers in Ameche's play, are actually bearable, even pretty funny, much less irritating than usual (as in ONE IN A MILLION or STRAIGHT PLACE AND SHOW). They do a number in long johns called "Underwear, How We Love You!" and they want to send a love-letter telegram to Hovick signed the New York Giants. A dance trio called Tip, Tap, and Toe do an impressive tap number, Tony Martin is in good voice as the leading man in the musical, and the title number isn't bad. I was fully prepared to give this one ten minutes than shut it off, but I wound up enjoying it. [FMC]

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