24 March 2005 | drednm
Great Musical Despite IMDB's Lowering the Ratings on All Marion Davies Films!
This musical comedy features beautiful Marion as a bored French teacher who runs off to Hollywood. Seems like a standard 30s musical. But wait. The narrative structure of this film is more complex than it at first seems.
At a teachers' meeting at the Briarcroft School, one old maid complains that Davies (she teaches French) is always late because she spends too much time dreaming. They take her some papers to correct and find her.
When Davies turns on the radio and gazes out at the night sky she starts to wish upon a star. Just as she says "I wish I may, I wish I might...." Bing Crosby's voice cuts across the moment as he begins the lyric of "Our Big Love Scene": "Don't waste the night in wishing..." as though in answer to Davies' wish upon a star. She sits up, startled, and packs her bags.
So sets off not to go to Hollywood, but only to find Crosby, who plays a famous radio singer about to embark by train to Hollywood to star in a picture. Crosby is also involved with the picture's French star, played by Fifi D'Orsay. As Crosby is packing up to go, and after a live broadcast of his singing "Beautiful Girl" to Sterling Holloway, Davies finds him. He brushes her off as just another fan and heads to the Grand Central Station, where he sings "Going Hollywood."
On the train, who should show up but Davies. In today's context, Davies is certainly a crazed fan stalking her idol, but in 1933 her actions were (in the context of this film) acceptable. D'Orsay catches the two together (Davies is correcting Crosby's French pronunciation) and immediately suspects them of being up to something. D'Orsay is on the rampage because her maid has quit. Of course Davies becomes her maid, having taught French and all. The second time D'Orsay catches them together, she slaps Davies. Davies quits her job.
Next we find Davies in Hollywood at "Central Casting," asking to see Crosby. She's turned away and meets Patsy Kelly, a film extra. They hit it off right away, and Kelly invites Davies to share her digs. The director (Ned Sparks) walks by and hires them as extras in the film starring Crosby and D'Orsay.
At Kelly's bungalow, Davies takes a nap and has a bizarre dream about herself and Crosby starring in a surreal production number called "We'll Make Hay While the Sun Shines." While Davies dreams, we are shown a huge close up of her face, which is occasionally superimposed over the dream-scene action so that we don't forget it's all a dream. The scene opens with Crosby and Davies in a cozy cottage. Crosby starts the song, and the couple is strolling through a field of giant, swaying daisies and then sitting in a carriage where Davies joins Crosby in a brief duet. They come upon a farm scene of dancing scarecrows . Suddenly Davies emerges from the dancers and takes center stage in a dance lively number. But Crosby and Davies are still sitting in the carriage. Davies points to herself dancing and asks Crosby, "me?" He nods and soon he also is in the dance number. A windstorm suddenly comes up and everyone is drenched by the downpour. Crosby and Davies run back to the cozy cottage where they sit by the fire, wrapped in blankets, while Crosby finishes the song.
On the movie set, Davies once again finds Crosby. He's in between scenes when Davies approaches. She's in blackface and dressed like Aunt Jemima. He doesn't seem to notice that she is not really black. D'Orsay catches them again and slaps Davies for a second time.
Next we're on location and D'Orsay is about to sing her big number, "Cinderella's Fella." The number has a Cinderella theme with the blonde-wigged D'Orsay as the Prince. As she launches into the song, Sparks stops her and tells he she's doing it all wrong because she's doing it as a kooch dance. She throws a fit and storms off the set. Back in her trailer, Crosby tries to comfort her. Meanwhile, back on the set, the Radio Rogues do a series of impressions of current radio stars who include Kate Smith, Morton Downey, and Crosby's singing rival of the day-Russ Columbo.
Davies is then coaxed into doing an impression (Davies was famous for her ability to mimic, and does so in several of her films). Of course she launches into an impression of D'Orsay singing. D'Orsay hears this and marches out to catch Davies in mid-dance and hauls off and slaps her for a third time. This time Davies strikes back and delivers D'Orsay a black eye. D'Orsay quits and Davies is hired to star in the film! Talk about your Hollywood dream!
There is an abbreviated scene, with Davies and Crosby dating, with Crosby singing the wonderful "After Sundown." Later, Davies attempts to deliver some flowers to Crosby, but standing in the hallway outside his door she hears D'Orsay talking to Crosby.
D'Orsay lures Crosby to a Mexican bar and plies him with drinks, knowing he will be fired from the picture after being absent for days. Davies tracks him down yet again and tries to get him back but he's drunk and can't think straight. This sets up the film's best number and another yet dream sequence. Crosby sings "Temptation" while sitting at the bar and drinking what looks like absinthe. As he sings we see huge close-ups of D'Orsay (to match the close-ups of Davies in the previous dream sequence) and cutaway shots of a dance floor crowded with same-sex couples. In the bar itself, no one is dancing. As Crosby approaches the last notes of the song, he lifts his glass and drains the last drops. It's an amazing sequence.
The scene shifts back to the film set where, after seeing a dance montage to "Cinderella's Fella," Davies is about to film an elaborate production number, be-gowned in a massive ermine and sequin outfit. As she is about to begin the scene with Crosby's replacement, Bing can be heard reprising "Our Big Love Scene," and the lovers meet. End of film.