Monday, May 16, 2016


Around the turn of the century (the 19th into the 20th), Joseph Howard works as a demonstrator of organs for the Tabernacle Supply Company, but he'd like to be making a living writing popular songs. He lives with his guardian, Uncle John, and John's daughter Katie who has grown up like a sister to Joe, though she has deeper feelings for him than he notices. Joe takes Katie to see vaudeville songstress Lulu Madison perform his song, "Hello, My Baby (Hello, My Ragtime Gal)" but is upset when he realizes that the song, which is a hit, has been published under Lulu's name. Katie is then upset when Joe and Lulu iron out their differences and he goes on the road with her as a pianist. Soon Katie shows up on the road, claiming that Uncle John has died and she needs a job, so she's hired as a backstage assistant. But as any astute viewer will figure out, John isn't really dead, Katie's just jealous. And so it goes until Joe and Katie break out in their own successful act. They get a chance at a Broadway show but various jealousies lead to trouble and to Joe leaving the show, into which he has sunk all his money. He plays the sticks for a while, but in the end, discovers that his show went on and became a hit with Katie in the lead, and Joe finally gives in to Katie's advances.

Joseph Howard was a real songwriter (and the title song is presented as a tune that Joe comes up with early on but can't quite get finished) but this is an almost totally fictional version of his life. It's fairly entertaining even if the central romantic story is a little strange; though they're not related by blood, their relationship feels very much like a sibling one, so when Joe suddenly has a change of heart at the end, it feels uncomfortable, and given the constant subterfuges Katie uses to keep a hold on Joe, I wasn't rooting for the two to get together anyway. However, I liked both the actors (Mark Stevens and June Haver) very much. Reginald Gardiner injects some fun as a producer's assistant, and I liked seeing William Frawley and Gene Nelson in smaller roles. The final production number goes over the top but the others are pleasant enough. "Pleasant enough" is a good phrase to describe the whole movie, I guess. [Fox Movie Channel]

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