Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Steve Stewart is a gung-ho talent scout for Apex Pictures whom we first see with a busful of starlets on a national tour; despite how highly Steve thinks of himself, the tour goes so badly that the big boss fires him. While stranded in a small town, Steve attends an amateur night event and discovers wholesome singer Mary Brannigan whom he hopes might be his ticket back to studio employment, so he takes her to Hollywood with him. While waiting for her screen test, she meets Raymond Crane, Apex's big romantic leading man, but doesn’t recognize him in make-up and the two do not get along. Her screen test is a disaster, but Steve has a plan: take her out on the town and have her make a splash under the name Doris Pierce. They do, she does, and soon she's under contract at Apex. She becomes a big star and Steve nurtures a crush on her, but what will he do when a fake romance between Mary and Raymond soon becomes real?

This is the rare Warner Bros. B-film of the classic era that disappoints. The production values are fine, and the lead, Donald Woods as Steve, is good, but the rest of the cast, rather than consisting of time-tested contract players, is composed mostly of newly discovered talent. Jeanne Madden (Mary), Fred Lawrence (Raymond), and Rosalind Marquis (Raymond’s jealous leading lady Bernice) were all out of the movie acting game by 1939. They’re not bad—Lawrence is the most promising of the three—but they don't stand out in any way. Storywise, it's hard to see what Steve is supposed to see in Mary, whose singing is pleasant but whose stage presence is amateurish in the beginning, and doesn't get that much better. It's watchable, but at only 62 minutes, it began wearing out its welcome around the 45-minute mark. Pictured are Woods and Lawrence. [TCM]

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