It's a Great Life (1929)

Passed   |    |  Comedy, Musical, Romance

It's a Great Life (1929) Poster

Casey and Babe are sisters who work in a department store and each year the store puts on a show. As expected, things are going wrong with every act until Casey comes out to help Babe with ... See full summary »


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16 January 2010 | AlsExGal
| The long lost color finale has finally been restored to the film
The Warner Archives got this one right. The last time this film was shown in its entirety on TCM back in the 1990's, the color finale was still lost. After it was found, the restored film was never shown on TCM to my knowledge, but the discovered color finale was often shown on Turner Classic Movies under its "One Reel Wonder" series between films. The Warner Archives DVD-R release restores the color finale to the film itself, so we get to see it as it was supposed to be seen and was seen in 1929.

The story involves sisters Babe and Casey Hogan, (Vivian and Rosetta Duncan), salesgirls at a department store, which is ruled somewhat like a banana republic in that store employees are required to assemble and sing the store song each morning. The girls have been orphaned since Babe was a child, and Casey is the older sister. Thus Casey is accustomed to looking after sister Babe and deflecting the advances of Jimmy Dean (Lawrence Grey), who has a strong romantic interest in younger sister Babe. This was the Duncan Sisters' only sound film, and they come across oddly on camera. Vivien is somewhat like a husky Anita Page, and Rosetta reminds me in voice and actions of Lucille Ball, although Rosetta does not have Lucy's delicacy of features.

Pieces of this story looks like it inspired Singing in the Rain. For example, there is a show by and for the department store employees about half way into the film that includes a fashion show. A song is sung by a male tenor as each girl steps down a staircase to present the latest in flapper fashions - much like the Beautiful Girl number in Singin in the Rain. Also, Babe gets deathly ill towards the end of the film and goes unconscious, allowing a couple of over the top musical numbers that are the highlight of the movie - "The Hoosier Hop" and the recently found finale "Sailing on a Sunbeam". These numbers are supposed to be Babe's hallucinations as she lies unconscious. These numbers rather reminded me of the long "Broadway Melody" number in Singin in the Rain, with its wild colors and big sets in that film within a film.

Recommended for those who enjoy the early sound films.

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