Usually associated with low-budget westerns and brittle, action-packed war films (both sometimes starring John Wayne), Republic was the creme-de-la-creme of the "B" studios and occasionally turned out an "A". Their "A" pictures were not as lavish as those of the majors, but reveal themselves to be non-pretentious, entertaining, and in the case of their musicals, loaded with talent.
The third of their "Hit Parade" series (there were four), like Paramount's "Big Broadcast" and MGM's "Broadway Melody" series, is a plethora of wonderful musical moments (both big and small) if short on originality. Here, a small-town songwriter (Susan Hayward) arrives in New York to find out that the publisher (John Carroll) she has sold her song to has laid a claim to it himself. She sets to teach him a lesson but predictably, falls in love with him even though her sardonic cousin (Eve Arden) points out that Carroll is a heel. Indeed, he's involved with the married Gail Patrick, wife of Carroll's "Money Man". This sets Patrick up for some sophisticated "bitchery" that unfortunately the usually tough Hayward doesn't rise to crush with her pinkie.
The musical numbers are lavishly set up, especially the Count Basie specialty "He's the Harlem Sandman" (sung by a young Dorothy Dandridge) and the Latin number Carroll croons to Hayward's music (using a series of different sized large drums). Re-titled "Change of Heart" for re-release (the name of its Oscar Nominated song), the film can attribute its music to Broadway legend Jule Styne ("Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", "Bells Are Ringing", "Gypsy", "Funny Girl"), so it is of historical interest.
While Patrick is at her best brittle bitchiness, the film lacks a nice confrontation where Hayward shows while the character might be a small town girl, the actress is from Brooklyn! Arden gives her usually witty performance, especially during the liver pill ditty she sings as a radio commercial. Her wisecracks, usually aimed at Carroll's right-hand man Walter Catlett, are right on target. "Hit Parade of 1943" may not be as lavish as the colorful musicals MGM and 20th Century Fox were turning out the same year, but it is still satisfying as a fun war era diversion.
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