Monday, September 19, 2016


At a preview for producer Adolphe Menjou's new movie, the audience laughs at exotic actress Vera Zorina's death scene, which of course is not supposed to be funny. While filming Zorina's new movie on location, Menjou overhears local girl Andrea Leeds making fun of how unreal the love scene is. Menjou has a chat with her and asks her to come back to Hollywood with him to give him pointers in making the movie more real—he nicknames her Miss Humanity and hides her from the actors so she'll remain loyal to her own feelings and not be influenced by others. But she does meet singing diner cook Kenny Baker and finagles him a role in the movie. There are complications, some romantic (Menjou falls in love with Leeds while she's in love with Baker), some otherwise (during the filming of a jazz vs. classical Romeo & Juliet ballet number, Leeds suggests a happy ending), but finally everything works out the way Hollywood tells us it should.

This has a rather poor reputation, mostly because it tries to be an A-movie musical and comedy revue with a solid B-cast, but if you accept that limitation, it's not bad. Menjou seems like he doesn’t really want to be involved, but Baker (a B-level Dick Powell) and Leeds make a fairly appealing pair. Many of the musical numbers, in particular a Water Nymph ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, are close to MGM level. Several of the songs are originals by the Gershwins (this is the score George was working on when he died), but the best song, "Love Walked In," is spoiled by being sung over and over again throughout the film. The comic relief comes from the Ritz Brothers playing a band of animal handlers—I can generally take them or leave them, but they are fine here. Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy have a little too much to do for my taste. The DVD color print is in beautiful shape. Entertaining if not quite up to the level of MGM or Fox musical extravaganzas. [DVD]

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