Classic Musicals 50 Movie MegaPack [12 Discs] [DVD]

$17.99
Cardmember Offers

Overview

Synopsis

Fiesta
Hal Roach's first Technicolor production was the 48-minute musical Fiesta. The story takes place on the Mexican ranch owned by Don Hernandez (Antonio Moreno), whose niece Cholita (Anne Ayers) is returning home to marry local caballero Jose (George Negrete). When Cholita arrives, however, she has a new fiance in tow: pompous radio star Fernando Gomez (George Givot). Unwilling to resort to anything as crass as physical violence, Jose spends the next four reels cooking up schemes to scare Gomez off the property. Like Roach's first "streamlined" musical All-American Co-Ed, Fiesta was directed by choreographer Leroy Prinz. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

King Kelly of the USA
Poverty Row studio Monogram took a stab at musical production with King Kelly of the U.S.A., a cinematic blunder starring opera baritone Guy Robertson, who plays James "King" Kelly, a theatrical entrepreneur sailing to Europe with his latest show, "Kelly's Affairs of 1934." En route, he falls in love with Catherine (Irene Ware), who, unbeknownst to Kelly, is really Princess Tania of Belgardia. Posing as an efficiency expert, Kelly takes the Belgardian government by storm by saving the local mop industry from being ruined by the new invention of vacuum cleaners. The princess, meanwhile, is forced into an engagement to the elderly Prince Alexis, to whose country Belgardia is indebted. Does Kelly find a way out of this unfortunate predicament? Of course he does. Robertson and company perform "Right Next Door to Love," "There's a Love Song in the Air," and "Believe Me," all by Joe Sanders and Bernard Grossman. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

Murder With Music
An all-black cast stars in this musical drama. ~ Jeaniff Dorset, Rovi

Rhythm and Blues Revue
Filmmakers Joseph Kohn and Leonard Reed assemble this patchwork collection of kinescopes featuring such legendary musicians as Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Nipsey Russell, and Lionel Hampton. Master of Ceremonies Willie Bryant offers a stirring rendition of "Bad Bad Whiskey". ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Sunny
Sunny was one of three RKO Radio Broadway-musical adaptations tailored to the talents of British favorite Anna Neagle by her soon-to-be-husband Herbert Wilcox (the other two were No No Nanette and Irene). The story has been updated a bit and transposed to New Orleans' Mardi Gras, but remains at base a "Cinderella" yarn, replete with a poor girl/rich boy romance. Circus entertainer Sunny Sullivan (Neagle) falls in love with Larry Warren (John Carroll), wealthy scion of an auto-manufacturing family. Accepting his invitation to meet his family at a fancy weekend party, Sunny elects to hide the fact that she's in (horrors!) show business. Just as she's won over the entire family, who should arrive but her circus cohorts, immediately blowing her cover. The shamefaced Sunny returns to the big top, but Larry will not be dissuaded from his intention to make her his bride. The film is at its best when the talented Anna Neagle trades steps with loose-limbed dancer Ray Bolger. A more faithful (but less enjoyable) version of this Otto Harbach-Oscar Hammerstein II-Jerome Kern musical was made in 1930, with the original "Sunny" Marilyn Miller repeating her Broadway role. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Calendar Girl
In this Republic musical, all heck breaks loose when the girlfriend of an aspiring composer becomes a model for the starving artist who lives next door. The story takes place at the turn of the 19th century and is set in Miss Rich's boardinghouse, the temporary home of many young artists and performers hoping to make it big in New York. Songs include "Have I Told You Lately?" and "A Bluebird Is Singing to Me." ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Palooka
Based on the popular comic strip by Ham Fisher, this fast-paced and funny boxing outing follows the exploits of a boxing manager and the up-and-coming fighter he mentors to. The film is also known as Joe Palooka. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Pied Piper of Hamelin was originally filmed as a television special, then released theatrically outside the United States. The story is the familiar one: the town of Hamelin, plagued by rats, hires a mysterious piper (Van Johnson) to rid the town of rodents. The piper does so, on the promise that he'll be paid a handsome fee. But the duplicitous burgomeister (Claude Rains), on the advice of his Laurel-and-Hardy council (Doodles Weaver and Stanley Adams), reneges on his promise. In revenge, the piper lures all of Hamelin's children off to parts unknown. In a departure from the original, there's a happy ending this time. Most of the dialogue is spoken in rhyme (quite amusingly by Rains), while the songs are adaptations of Edvard Grieg tunes. In the musical department, Kay Starr comes off best as the grieving mother of one of the missing kids. Because it was filmed in color, The Pied Piper of Hamelin has remained in TV syndication into the 1990s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Duke Is Tops
Also known as The Duke Is Tops, this is one of the best examples of the many all-black films made in the 1930s for what were then designated as "colored" theatres. Looking about 15 years old, Lena Horne plays the main attraction for the stage shows put on by a fellow named Duke (Ralph Cooper). When she gets a chance at a Broadway show, Lena swiftly severs all ties with Duke. But when Lena's big-time debut threatens to be a disaster, it is Duke who saves the day. The dialogue is for the birds, but The Duke Is Tops is aces when it comes to musical numbers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Second Chorus
Though not the best of the Fred Astaire musicals, Second Chorus is the most easily accessible thanks to its current public-domain status. Astaire and Burgess Meredith play Danny O'Neill and Hank Taylor, friendly-enemy musicians who after spending seven years in a college band aspire to join the Artie Shaw Orchestra. Danny and Hank also spend a lot of time vying over the attentions of their pretty manager Ellen Miller (Paulette Goddard). While Paulette Goddard later became Mrs. Burgess Meredith in real life, guess who wins her hand in this picture? Charles Butterworth steals the show as Mr. Chisholm, a music-loving eccentric who finances Shaw's "swing concerto" concert at Carnegie Hall. Oh, and Fred Astaire dances, too. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Great Gabbo
After the disastrous failure of Queen Kelly, the great silent film director Eric Von Stroheim began to parcel himself out as an actor-for-hire, his directing career in tatters. His first post-Queen Kelly acting job was in this early sound film curio, with Von Stroheim playing The Great Gabbo, a ventriloquist who is gradually going insane, transferring his subliminal urges to his dummy, Otto. Gabbo's lovely assistant Mary (Betty Compson) is in love with him, but Gabbo's reciprocal love for Mary is transformed by Otto into heaps of hateful verbal abuse -- so much so that Mary leaves the act, walking out on Gabbo. Without Mary, Gabbo becomes completely unhinged, eking out retribution upon Otto. The Great Gabbo, made at the height of the early talkie musical revue boom, contains a series of inexplicable and incongruous musical production numbers, clumsily grafted onto this Lon Chaney-esque tale of psychological horror. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Killer Diller
Enjoy the sounds of Nat King Cole and his Trio in this all-black musical revue. ~ Jeaniff Dorset, Rovi

Career Girl
The career girl in this PRC musical is Joan (Frances Langford), a Kansas City gal with showbiz aspirations. She heads to New York, where she sets up residence in a theatrical boarding house straight out of Stage Door. A few setbacks later, Joan lands the lead in a Broadway musical revue, which despite its threadbare production values (a PRC trademark) bids fair to be the hit of the season. Endearingly old-fashioned, Career Girl puts over its clichés with energy and verve. Besides, any picture with wisecracking Iris Adrian in a large role can't be all bad. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Breakfast in Hollywood
Breakfast in Hollywood was loosely based on the ABC radio program of the same name. Tom Breneman, the series' host, appears as himself in a contrived story about a radio personality attempting to smooth the path of true love for heroine Dorothy (Bonita Granville) and hero Ken (Edward Ryan); he also helps the wife (Billie Burke) of a philanderer (Raymond Walburn) and assists a charity-minded matron (Beulah Bondi). The plot can be forgotten, and in fact is forgotten as a parade of guest stars-Andy Russell, The King Cole Trio, Spike Jones et. al.-do their specialties. Columnist Hedda Hopper also makes a brief appearance. After years in obscurity, Breakfast in Hollywood resurfaced in the mid-1970s when it was first offered on the 8-millimeter home movie market. In England, where the original radio series was unknown, the film was retitled The Mad Hatter (evidently a reference to Hedda Hopper's bizarre headgear!) ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Wild Guitar
This low-budget, mediocre teen rock 'n roll tale features a raft of unknowns, headed by Arch Hall, Jr. as Bud Eagle who leaves on a motorscooter from Spearfish, South Dakota with his guitar and dreams, and heads toward Hollywood. Soon after he arrives, a comely young woman, Vicki, manages to get Bud a spot on a TV show and the response is wild. Crafty wheeler-dealer Mike McCauley cons Bud into taking him on as a manager and then does everything he can to exploit Bud and pump up his popularity -- and income. Since ethics are no consideration, Bud soon wants out of his contract. Several mishaps later, he and his brother come up with a devious plan. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi

Open the Door, Richard
Royal Wedding
Two real-life events were incorporated into the plot of the 1951 MGM musical Royal Wedding. One, the marriage of Fred Astaire's sister Adele to a British nobleman had occurred years earlier; the other, the wedding of England's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip was only four years in the past. MGM would probably have gotten Royal Wedding out closer to the Elizabeth-Philip nuptials, but the picture had leading-lady problems; every girl who was cast either became pregnant, ill, or otherwise unavailable. Finally, Jane Powell was cast as the sister and partner of American-entertainer Fred Astaire. The plot has Astaire and Powell heading to Merrie Olde England to perform at the palace. Once they've arrived, Powell breaks up the act when she falls in love with blueblooded Peter Lawford. Astaire himself finds romance in the form of Sarah Churchill (daughter of Sir Winston), and the four happy campers gleefully attend the titular Windsor Castle wedding. Also in the cast is Albert Sharpe, fresh from his Broadway triumph in Finian's Rainbow, and Keenan Wynn, hilarious as twin cousins. The plot is so light that it threatens to float away at times, but Royal Wedding sticks in the memory thanks to its first-rate musical numbers. The Astaire/Powell duets are entertaining enough; the real magic, however, occurs in Astaire's two solos: the hat-rack duet and the now-legendary tap-dance on the ceiling (even knowing how this cinematic legerdemain was accomplished does not detract from its brilliance and virtuosity). Because it has slipped into public domain, Royal Wedding is one of the most easily accessible of all the Fred Astaire musicals. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Glorifying the American Girl
Broadway impresario Florenz Ziegfeld brought his legendary "Follies" to the silver screen in Glorifying the American Girl. The barely visible plotline concerns a virginal young miss (Mary Eaton) who aspires to greatness as a Follies girl. With stars in her eyes, she heads to New York, leaving her hometown boyfriend to fend for himself. Upon arriving in the Big Apple, our heroine links up with a two-bit dancer who offers to make her a star -- if only she'll let him make her, period. The greater part of the film is given over to a re-creation of a "typical" Follies production, replete with musical solos by Rudy Vallee and Helen Morgan and a sidesplitting comedy sketch with Eddie Cantor and Louis Sorin as a pair of kvetching Jewish tailors ("Vat's der idea uff calling me a damn fool in front uff der customers?" "So, it's a secret?"). From time to time, the camera cuts away to the many celebrities enjoying the show, including journalist Ring Lardner, nightclub doyenne Texas Guinan, New York mayor Jimmy Walker, Paramount Pictures head man Adolph Zukor, and Flo Ziegfeld himself, accompanied by his then-wife, Billie Burke. And yes, that's Johnny Weissmuller on-stage as a provocatively undraped "Nature Boy." As a bonus, the musical score was the handiwork of Irving Berlin. Originally filmed in Technicolor, Glorifying the American Girl is presently available only in black-and-white. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rock 'N Roll Revue
Master of ceremonies Willie Bryant hosts an eventful evening of music and comedy captured live at the Apollo Theater and featuring such popular artists as Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, the Clovers, Dinah Washington, Martha Davis, and Mantan Moreland. Rhythm and blues, jazz, tap dancing, and comedy performances make this a treat for audiences of all ages. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

All-American Coed
This 48-minute Hal Roach "streamliner" represents a rare directorial assignment for veteran Hollywood choreographer LeRoy Prinz, who also produced the film. Johnny Downs stars as Bob Sheppard of Quinceton University, who is appointed by his frat brothers to get even with the snotty sorority gals at all-female Marr Brynn U. This requires Bob to dress up in drag as a "blonde bombshell" and to enter Marr Brynn's annual beauty contest. When he's not flouncing around in curls and crinolines, Bob spends his time romancing pert co-ed Virginia (Frances Langford). The supporting cast ranges from silent-comedy veteran Harry Langdon to leggy newcomer Marie Windsor. The film's four musical numbers (representing approximately 25 percent of the running time!) include the Oscar-nominated "Out of the Silence". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Swing Hostess
In this musical, an unemployed swing-band singer cannot hook up with another group and so becomes a switchboard operator at a juke box company. Later she falls in love with a handsome bandleader who hires her to sing. Songs include: "I'll Eat My Hat," "Let's Capture This Moment," "Say It with Love," "Music to My Ears," "Highway Polka," "Got an Invitation" (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans, Lewis Bellin). ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Let's Go Collegiate
In this collegiate drama, a team of college oarsmen promise their gals that they will win the big race. Unfortunately, it looks as if their victory will go to another team after their strongest rower is drafted. The sly, enterprising lads end up replacing him with a truck driver on the sly. Songs include "Look What You've Done to Me", "Sweet 16", and "Let's Do a Little Dreaming". ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Sitting on the Moon
At their best, the Republic musicals of the 1930s could hold their own against anything turned out by MGM or Warner Bros. Republic's Sitting on the Moon is an excellent showcase for second-echelon stars Roger Pryor and Grace Bradley, here cast as songwriter Danny West and fading movie star Polly Blair. Hoping to jump-start Polly's career, Danny breaks up his partnership with lyricist Mike (William Newell), who finds some comfort in the arms of Polly's wisecracking pal Mattie (Pert Kelton). Hoping to tear Danny away from Polly, Mike contrives to have blonde seductress Blossom (Joyce Compton) pretend to be Mike's sweetheart, but all misunderstandings are forgotten during the climactic musical production numbers. Originally released at 66 minutes, Sitting on the Moon was cut to 53 minutes for television, with no discernible loss of continuity. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Road to Hollywood
Road to Hollywood may have starred Bing Crosby, but it was by no means one of his popular "Road" pictures with Bob Hope. In fact, it wasn't even a new film when released in 1946. Road to Hollywood is comprised of clips from Crosby's two-reel musical comedies made at the Mack Sennett studios between 1931 and 1932: I Surrender Dear, One More Chance, Dream House, The Billboard Girl, Blue of the Night and Sing Bing Sing. Astor Pictures, a firm specializing in reissues of older films, owned the rights to these short subjects and had already made a mint distributing them to theatres in the early 1940s. Now Astor hoped to sustain the cash flow by excerpting the old Crosby films into a hazy "continuity," then passing the whole melange off as a "new" feature picture. Heavily advertised and craftily promoted, The Road to Hollywood was a success, making plenty of money for everyone but Bing Crosby and Mack Sennett. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Reaching for the Moon
In this elaborate big-budget musical, a handsome businessman follows a beautiful woman aboard a luxury liner and begins to woo her. This doesn't set well with her fiance. Later the fellow learns of the stock market crash and develops a taste for booze. Romantic mayhem ensues until the inevitable happy ending. Look for a young Bing Crosby singing Irving Berlin's "Lower Than Lowdown," as part of the "Whiteman Rhythm Boys." ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Answer to Open the Door, Richard
Bubbling Over
Hi Diddle Diddle
In the tradition of Hellzapoppin', Hi Diddle Diddle is an all-stops-out "screwball comedy" populated by certifiable zanies. Billie Burke plays Mrs. Prescott, the featherbrained mother of bride-to-be Janie Prescott (Martha Scott). When Mrs. P is swindled out of her life savings, Colonel Phyffe (Adolphe Menjou), the con-man father of Janie's fiancé Sonny (Dennis O'Keefe), vows to get her money back -- by any means possible. The plotline is merely an excuse for a series of wild nonsequitur visual and verbal gags, culminating in a cute reverse-cliché finale. Making her first Hollywood appearance in years, silent screen star Pola Negri is hilariously cast as Phyffe's opera-star wife Genya Smetana. Best bits: Mrs. Prescott revealing that a recurring female character is a "special friend of the director"; Leslie Quayle (June Havoc singing a duet with herself); and an outrageous scene in which the wallpaper comes to life during a eardrum-shattering family sing-along (the animation was provided by the Warner Bros. cartoon staff). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Mr. Imperium
Ezio Pinza stars as the title character, a prince who falls for nightclub singer Fredda Barlo (Lana Turner) when the two meet on vacation in Italy. After more than a decade, they reunite, only now Barlo is a Hollywood superstar and Imperium has ascended to the throne of king. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Reet, Petite and Gone
The all-black Reet, Petite and Gone revives a plot that had already been worn out in mainstream "white" films. A singer's father dies, leaving her a fortune. A shifty attorney arranges things so that the singer is left out in the cold. The attorney meets with foul play, and the singer is the prime suspect. All ends happily with a floor show. The male star of Reet, Petite and Gone is bandleader Louis Jordan, while the singing is provided by June Richmond. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Boogie-Woogie Dream
As this short opens, Teddy Wilson and his orchestra are finishing up their last gig of the night at a swank café. As the band and audience leave, a woman in the audience says the band was good, but her date says they weren't what he was looking for. The woman leaves to powder her nose and the café staff comes out. One worker starts playing the piano and another, Lena Horne, polishes glasses while wishing she could wear a new gown and sing the low-down blues in a place like this. Her co-workers (Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson) encourage her, and she pretends they are the star attraction before a large audience. Ammons and Johnson play their twin-piano "Boogie Woogie Blues," then Horne fantasizes she is singing "Unlucky Woman" with Wilson -- and in a beautiful gown, to boot. At the end of the number, the audience member, his date, and the three co-workers seem to awaken from a dream. But whether a dream or not, the man in the audience tells the trio to come to his office for an audition -- the break they've been waiting for! ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Dixiana
Hoping to repeat the success of its 1929 musical spectacular Rio Rita, RKO Radio reteamed leading lady Bebe Daniels and the comedy team of Bert Wheeler & Robert Woolsey for the equally lavish Dixiana. Set in antebellum Louisiana, the film casts Daniels as the title character, a lovely and charming circus entertainer. Dixiana is loved by Carl Van Horn (Everett Marshall), the son of plantation owner Cornelius Van Horn (Joseph Cawthorn). Though Cornelius approves of his son's choice, his imperious wife (Jobyna Howland) orders Dixiana out of her house, much to the delight of crooked gambler Royal Montague (Ralf Harolde), who has his own wicked designs on our heroine. Fired by her circus, Dixiana is forced to go to work at Montague's gambling establishment, and it is here that the love-struck Carl catches up with her. Hoping to bankrupt Carl and force him to relinquish the deed to the Van Doren plantation, Montague engages the young man in a crooked card game, but Dixiana turns the tables on the villain. Elected queen of the Mardi Gras, Dixiana is kidnapped by the disgruntled Montague, who intends to goad Carl into a duel, knowing full well that the boy's guns have been tampered with. Dixiana is the film debut of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who performs a "stair dance" routine during the Technicolor Mardi Gras finale. Incidentally, the film's final color reels were for many years considered lost, with only the black-and-white scenes remaining: thus, many TV prints of Dixiana come to an end long before the plot has been resolved. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Doll Face
Doll Face is one of two attempts by 20th Century Fox to make a movie star out of crooner Perry Como (the other was If I'm Lucky). Actually, Como is but a cog in the wheel of the main plot, which involves Doll Face (Vivian Blaine), a stripteaser with artistic pretensions. On the advice of her manager/boyfriend, Mike Hannegan (Dennis O'Keefe), Doll Face undergoes a "refinement" process. The next step for the girl is to write an intellectual autobiography, for which ghostwriter Gerard (Michael Dunne) is engaged. Forget the plot, and concentrate on the production numbers performed with gusto by Blaine, Como, and Carmen Miranda. Doll Face is based on The Naked Genius, a play by Louise Hovick -- better known as striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Jack and the Beanstalk
In 1952, the comedy team of Abbott and Costello entered into a joint agreement with producer Alex Gottlieb and Warner Brothers, whereby two color musical comedies would be produced: Bud Abbott would serve as producer--owner of one of the films, while Lou Costello would do same for the other. Costello's contribution to this agreement was Jack and the Beanstalk, a kiddie-matinee adaptation of the famed fairy tale. Constructed along the lines of The Wizard of Oz, the film begins in black and white. Jack (Costello) is a professional baby-sitter, while Dink (Abbott) is Jack's "agent." After a run-in with a gargantuan cop (Buddy Baer) and a statuesque waitress (Dorothy Ford), Jack and Dink show up at the home of Eloise Larkin (Shaye Cogan), there to look after Eloise's troublesome nephew Donald (David Stollery) while the girl and her boyfriend Arthur Royal (James Alexander) rehearse at their community theatre. While reading the story of Jack and the Beanstalk to the bratty Donald, Jack falls asleep, and begins dreaming himself, and his cohorts, into the story as the impoverished boy sent out to sell the family cow. While en route to town with his cow, he encounters a shady butcher (Abbott) who bilks him out of his broken-down bovine for the price of a few 'magic' beans. In keeping with the traditional tale, Jack plants the beans and from them a magnificent vine grows and reaches into the clouds. Along with the butcher, Jack climbs into a fantastic world inhabited by a terrifying giant (Baer) and other magical creatures, including a gold egg-laying hen, a singing harp, and a distressed prince and princess. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Paradise in Harlem
Featuring an all African-American cast, this gritty crime drama is set in Harlem and centers on a club singer who suffers great tragedy after he accidentally witnesses a gangland hit. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Check and Double Check
Check and Double Check brought radio's highest-rated program to the big screen. Amos 'N' Andy were two black characters played by two white men, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. Donning blackface, Gosden and Correll are seen as well as heard as A&A, partners in the Harlem-based Fresh Air Taxicab Company. Our heroes spend most of their time helping the white romantic leads (Sue Carol and Charles Morton) try to locate a missing deed to some property owned by Morton's family. Eventually, Amos 'N' Andy unwittingly end up in a haunted house. Virtually the only genuine African Americans in the film are the members of Duke Ellington's Cotton Club orchestra, whose appearance at a high society ball is the device that brings A&A into the plot. Though no other Amos 'N' Andy films would follow, a popular TV series later aired in the 1950s with black actors cast in the leads. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Till the Clouds Roll By
Hi-De-Ho
As the title indicates, Hi-De-Ho is a vehicle for entertainer Cab Calloway. The star plays a bandleader (what else?) who is torn between two lovers: his jealous girlfriend Jenni leGon and his crafty manager Ida James. leGon hires a gangland assassin to take Calloway for a ride, but at the last moment has a change of heart and tries to prevent the murder. She stops a bullet meant for Calloway, allowing James to claim him for the final clinch. Produced for what we termed "colored theatres" in 1947, the all-black Hi-De-Ho is not what one could call expensive (many of the sets shimmer and shake as the actors stroll by) but the songs are first-rate. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rhythm in the Clouds
In this musical comedy, a struggling songwriter fakes a letter of admittance into the apartment of a rich composer. It is most convenient as the successful fellow is out of town. The girl is hungry and unable to pay her own rent, so she takes full advantage until he returns and finds his well-ordered life in shambles. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Trocadero
In this musical, two young people inherit their foster father's nightclub. The joint teeters on the brink of bankruptcy until they bring in exciting jazz music and entertaining acts ranging from comedy to cartoonists. Songs include: "Shoo-Shoo Baby," "The Music Goes 'Round and Around," "Roundabout Way," "Bullfrog Jump," "How Could You Do That to Me," "The King Was Doing the Rhumba," "Trying to Forget" and "Can't Take the Place of You." ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Stage Door Canteen
This star-studded musical drama was largely financed by Theatre Guild, with all proceeds going to various wartime fundraising concerns. Most of the story takes place at the Stage Door Canteen, a Manhattan-based home away from home for soldiers, sailors and marines (the real-life Canteen on 44th street was too busy to lend itself to filming, thus the interiors were recreated in Hollywood). Within the walls of this non-profit establishment, servicemen are entertained by top musical, comedy and dramatic acts, and waited on by such Broadway luminaries as Lunt and Fontanne, Katharine Hepburn, Jane Cowl, Katherine Cornell, Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Sam Jaffe and Paul Muni. Though the plotline-one of the Canteen servers, a girl named Eileen (Cheryl Walker) falls in love with one of the visiting soldiers (William Terry), despite the establishment's strict "no dating" rules-is merely an excuse to link together a series of specialty acts, it is superbly and touchingly directed by Frank Borzage. Not all of the film has weathered the years too well: particularly hard to take is Gracie Fields' cheery ditty about "killing Japs!" For the most part, however, the film works, and the guest performers-including comedians Ray Bolger, Harpo Marx, George Jessel and Ed Wynn, and singers Ethel Waters and Kenny Baker-are in fine fettle. If nothing else, Stage Door Canteen offers the only appearance on film of the great Katherine Cornell, who offers a vignette of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. Incidentally, the actor playing "Texas", Michael Harrison, later gained fame as cowboy star Sunset Carson. Originally released at 132 minutes, Stage Door Canteen is now generally available in the 93-minute TV version. The six big bands that appear and perform in the film are those of Kay Kyser, Count Basie, Xavier Cugat, Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman and Freddie Martin. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rock, Rock, Rock!
Rock, Rock, Rock stars 13-year-old Tuesday Weld, who looks 11 if she's a day. Even so, Weld's Dori is trying to get together enough money to buy a strapless gown (she's far more self-confident than she should be at this biological stage of the game). Daddy has cut off Dori's allowance, but gee, she's gotta go to the prom. Nevermind all that, you'll want to see Rock, Rock, Rock for its dynamite lineup of guest stars. In alphabetical order: LaVerne Baker, Chuck Berry, the Johnny Burnette Trio, Jimmy Cavallo House Rockers, Cirino and the Bowties, the Coney Island Kids, the Flamingos, Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers, the Moonglows, and Teddy Randazzo. As a bonus, Connie Francis provides Tuesday Weld's singing voice. And say, kids, it's Alan Freed serving up platters 'n' chatters and stax o' wax on prom night. This marked Valerie Harper's film debut; she was in her teens at the time. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Big Show
The Big Show is a modestly budgeted but elaborately turned out Gene Autry western. Autry plays "himself," a famous cowboy star, and his own stunt man. When Autry-the-star reneges on a agreement to make a personal appearance at Dallas' Texas Centennial (represented through newsreel shots), Autry-the-stunt man takes his boss' place. This causes confusion with the ladies, and with a gang of mobsters who were hoping to extort money from Autry-the-star. Ever protective of his own image, Gene Autry saw to it that both of his cinematic alter egos prove worthy of their salt in a climactic fist-fight with the villains. Also appearing in The Big Show is a radio aggregation called the Sons of the Pioneers, featuring future Gene Autry rival Roy Rogers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

People Are Funny
Art Linkletter had only recently taken over the popular audience-participation radio series People are Funny from Art Baker when he appeared as "himself" in this lighthearted musical comedy. The film's plot concerns a rivalry between two radio producers, both of whom want to produce a weekly radio series in which audience members indulge in silly stunts for huge cash prizes. A romance develops between supposedly slow-on-the-uptake radio producer Pinky Wilson (Jack Haley) and writer Corey Sullivan (Helen Walker), while wealthy sponsor Ormsby Jamison (Rudy Vallee) tries to determine if People are Funny is a saleable concept. Ozzie Nelson costars as Wilson's business rival, Frances Langford shows up for a song, and future 3 Stooges member Joe DeRita has a funny bit as a contestant. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Black Tights
Black Tights is a filmed ballet anthology divided into four all-dance episodes. "The Diamond Cruncher" spotlights Ziza Jeanmaire as a lady mobster who gives up her life of crime for the love of a good man. "Cyrano de Bergerac" stars Roland Petit (who also choreographed) as Cyrano and Moira Shearer as Roxanne; its music was composed by Marius Constant, of Twilight Zone fame. "A Merry Mourning" finds Cyd Charisse flittering her way into a deadly romantic triangle. And "Carmen," starring Jeanmaire once more, is the old story, danced rather than sung to the music of Bizet. Both the French and English-language versions of Black Tights are narrated by Maurice Chevalier. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Up in the Air
In this fast paced mystery, an eager page boy for a radio station tries to convince the owners to let him do a comedy show with his pal, a porter. A hopeful singer and the station receptionist support the lads with the former hoping to make her debut there. Things are looking up for the young folk when suddenly several of the station's star acts are murdered on the air. The page, the porter and the receptionist begin investigating while the young singer fills in for the slain chanteuse. Success ensues all around. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Fabulous Dorseys
Based on the lives of big-band stars Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, this biographical chronicle begins with their childhood in an industrial Pennsylvania town. Encouraged in their musical talents by their father, the Dorsey brothers' sibling rivalry proves to be a stumbling block until the their father's death gives them the momentum they need to rise to fame, and they are eventually considered to be among the best bandleaders of the swing era. Appearances by Charlie Barnet, Art Tatum, and Bob Eberly jazz up the musical numbers, featuring such songs as "Green Eyes," "Everybody's Doin' It", "Marie," and "I'll Never Say Never Again." ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

Delightfully Dangerous
In her second starring film, teenaged singing sensation Jane Powell plays Cheryl Williams, a 15-year-old music student who is led to believe that her older sister Josephine (Constance Moore) is a big Broadway star. In truth, Josephine is a stripper in a tawdry burleycue house, but fortunately Cheryl (apparently) never reads any out-of-town newspapers and thus is in a state of blissful ignorance. The fun begins when Cheryl arrives in New York, figures out the truth, and tries to marry Josephine off to big-time Broadway producer Arthur Hale (Ralph Bellamy). As a result, both Josephine and Cheryl are starring in Hale's latest production. Yes, it's a Deanna Durbin picture without Deanna, right down to newly arranged versions of old operetta favorites. Delightfully Dangerous is currently available from several video companies thanks to its "public domain" status. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Dancing Pirate
Dancing Pirate was the second feature-length production by Pioneer Pictures, whose earlier effort Becky Sharp was the first three-strip Technicolor feature. Pirate was likewise filmed in the three-strip process, but the film is currently available only in its black-and-white reissue version. London and Broadway musical comedy favorite Charles Collins stars as Jonathan Pride, a mild-mannered dance instructor in 1820 Boston. En route to visit relatives, Jonathan is shanghaied by a band of zany pirates and forced to work as a galley boy. When the pirate vessel arrives at the port of Las Palomas, Jonathan, clad in buccaneer's garb, makes his escape. Everyone in Las Palomas, including Governor Alcalde (Frank Morgan) and fetching senorita Serafina (Steffi Duna), assumes that Jonathan is the pirate chieftain, leading to a series of typical comic-opera complications. Featured in the cast are the Dancing Cansinos, whose daughter Rita Hayworth was just beginning her own screen career. The Rodgers & Hart score, like the film itself, is pretty lackluster, but Charles Collins is a pleasing screen personality who should have gone much farther in movies than he did. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Murder in Swingtime
Road Show
When millionaire bachelor John Hubbard takes a run-out powder at his own wedding, Hubbard's vengeful fiancee Polly Ann Young has the luckless fellow committed to an insane asylum. Hubbard escapes with certified looney Adolphe Menjou; together they join a carnival run by Carole Landis. Hubbard and Menjou not only save Landis from bankruptcy, but also convince Hubbard's allegedly normal uncle Charles Butterworth (who races fire engines as a hobby) to arrange for the carnival to be set up right next to the family mansion. Directors Hal Roach, Hal Roach Jr. and Gordon M. Douglas deliberately blur the thin line between sanity and insanity throughout Road Show. Just who's crazier: the delusional Menjou, who takes photographs with an invisible camera, or lovestruck Indian George E. Stone, who spends his free time chasing after carnival employee Patsy Kelly? And are the freewheeling carney folk any goofier than the flibbertigibbet society folk? The Charioteers, a black singing group who'd previously appeared in the Broadway production of Hellzapoppin, act as a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on the action with several refrains of the Hoagy Carmichael song "Calliope Jane". The amiable wackiness of Road Show is capped by a car-chase finale. The film was based on a novel by Eric Hatch, who four years earlier had worked on Roach's Topper. Watch for several familiar comedy faces among the uncredited bit players, including Shemp Howard of Three Stooges fame. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Mr. Adam's Bomb
Minstrel Man
Unusually elaborate for a PRC film, Minstrel Man is a lively musical drama built around the talents of veteran vaudevillian Benny Fields. The star is cast as Dixie Boy Johnson, who rises from the ranks of minstrel shows to become a top Broadway attraction. On the opening night of his greatest stage triumph, Dixie Boy's wife dies in childbirth. Profoundly shaken, he walks out of the show, leaving the baby to be raised by his showbiz pals Mae and Lasses White (Gladys George, Roscoe Karns). The kid grows up to be an attractive young woman named Caroline (Judy Clark), who follows in her dad's footsteps by billing herself as-that's right-Dixie Girl Johnson. This leads to a tearful reunion between Caroline and the father she'd long assumed to be dead. If Minstrel Man seems at times to be a dress rehearsal for Columbia's The Jolson Story (1946), it shouldn't surprising: the PRC film was directed by Joseph H. Lewis, who went on to helm Jolson Story's musical highlights. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Private Buckaroo
This upbeat WW II-era musical features performances by the Andrews Sisters and Harry James as it tells the story of a rebellious young inductee who has trouble toeing the line until he meets a retired officer's lovely daughter. James and his band are also drafted and decide to perk up their camp by putting on a big show. Of the many songs featured, the best known is the Andrews' rendition of "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone Else but Me"." ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi


Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.