11 May 2011 | dougdoepke
A Davies Showcase
Spirited young teacher leaves uptight girl's school for fame and fortune in Hollywood.
I tuned in to catch the legendary Marion Davies, WR Hearst's (Citizen Kane) favorite squeeze, and was generally impressed even though the movie is unexceptional. She's got some natural charisma, and can dance and act as well as most musical performers. So this is not a case of a rich Daddy Warbucks making a silk purse out of a no-talent.
The movie itself is expensively produced with a couple impressive dance numbers (e.g. the massed train station), plus a youthful Crosby crooning at his most tuneful. But except for the torchy Temptation, the selections themselves are pretty forgettable. Nonetheless, the many behind-the-scenes look at movie sets remains fascinating. At the same time, macho director Walsh and noir producer Wanger may seem odd choices for the production end of a musical, but this is still early in their respective careers.
Speaking of directors, Ned Sparks who plays the raspy director in the movie appears to have swallowed a lemon and followed it up with a load of sandpaper, providing much of the comedy relief, along with a young Patsy Kelly. But funnier than anyone without even trying is D'Orsay's cartoonish French siren. For cultural historians, there's the guy mimicking radio personalities of the day, making an informative and entertaining novelty act. But I can't help noticing a couple of Davies', shall we say, unusual costumes—one is so fancy, it looks like the crinoline is swallowing her, while the other resembles a big furry snow cone minus the snow. Good thing the rest of her wardrobe is 30's conventional.
All in all, it's a good glimpse back in time, even if the musical end lacks staying power.