Monday, February 29, 2016


At an audition for a nightclub singing spot, blond Dorothy (Marie Wilson) is terrible, but Tommy the pianist (Phil Regan) hears Winnie (Wini Shaw), fresh off the bus from Wapakoneta, Ohio, and talks the boss into listening to her. Not only does she get hired, she attracts the attention of gambling boss Lucky Lorimer (Lyle Talbot) who decides to go legit and become her manager. Soon Winnie is the toast of the town and has fallen in love with Lucky, though he only has eyes for snooty heiress Iris (Genevieve Tobin). Iris enjoys Lucky's company but when he proposes marriage, she laughs in his face. Meanwhile, Winnie can't see what a crush her pianist Tommy has on her. After Lucky's rejection, he vows to break into high society to get Iris' attention, and he does, as the owner of a sparkling new casino for the rich, but Iris's dissolute brother Ronnie causes lots of headaches when he gets drunk and belligerent, and as a topper, steals thousands of dollars of his father's jewels and gives them to Lucky as collateral for his sizable gambling debt. When they are reported as missing, Lucky gives them to the police, but they arrest him for the theft. Iris, whose career has been on a downswing, goes into debt paying his sizable bail (and not letting him know that she did it). Once he's free, Lucky marries Iris, then when he finds out that Winnie paid his bail (and an unscrupulous lawyer made off with the money), he secretly bankrolls a big Broadway show for her. But the dissolute brother is not done making trouble, and now he has a gun.

Enough plot for you? There's really too much here for a 75 minute movie—the last third feels very choppy and rushed—and I haven't even mentioned the supporting characters and the musical numbers. There are several songs and two big dance numbers choreographed by Bobby Connolly in a Busby Berkeley style, or as much of his style as a B-movie can afford, and they are pips indeed, though not necessarily in a good way. In one, a song that begins with Winnie and Tommy on a simple stage suddenly shifts to an elaborate suburban home set; the last one, "Playboy of Paree," steals directly from Berkeley, with dancers festooned in balloons superimposed to appear as if they are dancing inside a huge glass of champagne, and dancers' faces shooting out at the screen. For me, they both rank as nice tries, but they're missing that effortless glitter and flow that Berkeley could accomplish in his sleep. Shaw (pictured with Talbot) is a fine singer, but she's a big zero in the acting and charisma departments; Tobin is good, though her character seems a bit underwritten. Talbot, one of my favorite B-actors, is appropriately handsome and charming. The comic relief here is nicely done by two pros: Allen Jenkins as Lucky's sidekick who goes by the name Fishcake, and Spring Byington as a rich widow who Jenkins romances. Phil Regan is almost as charming as Talbot. An actor named Donald Ross is ineffectual as the drunken brother, and in fact, Ross never made another movie. Ward Bond and Dennis O'Keefe have bit parts. I enjoyed this movie but I'm not sure I’d want to sit though it again. [TCM]

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