1 August 2003 | Ron Oliver
Desperate for Broadway, the traveling troupe of The Phantom Sweetheart must always go ON WITH THE SHOW!
Here is another very early talkie musical, full of excitement for the new medium, but bloated by too much talk, unexciting songs sung by the chorus with mostly unintelligible lyrics and an overlong running time. The plot deals with the usual frustrations & jealousies that most backstage musicals seem to find requisite.
The cast includes William Bakewell as the head usher eager to get his sweetheart, box-office girl Sally O'Neill, her chance at the Great White Way. Betty Compson plays the temperamental star and Arthur Lake the whiny young male lead. Louise Fazenda is the company's eccentric comedienne, who is given little to do but laugh at inappropriate moments.
The film does have some compensations. Rubber faced Joe E. Brown is cast as the company's brash comic and, as always, he is funny simply to look at. Best of all, the incomparable Ethel Waters is brought in to sing a couple of songs, including 'Am I Blue?' Miss Waters has no connection with the rest of the story whatsoever, but just enjoying her for a few minutes is pure pleasure.