This picture should have had it all...a great cast, a first rate studio, and one hit song. What went wrong? In her autobiography, Ginger Rogers says she was loaned out by RKO while she was making Flying Down to Rio (riding her bicycle between studios). She goes on to say that the songs they gave her were awful and she demanded better. Given her choice of songs (rejects from other pictures) she chose "Did You Ever See a Dream Walking." Wise choice...it became a huge hit and is still heard to this day. "Dream Walking" was the song used in the huge 'flesh & feathers' production number at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, they could/should have dispensed with the rest of the film. Ginger and her equally reliable co-stars, Jack Oakie, Jack Haley and Thelma Todd, tried valiantly to shine, but ultimately were all but entombed in the wooden film. The script lumbered aimlessly along, going nowhere in particular. Even luscious Thelma Todd was saddled with a role so thin it could have been played by any blonde.
Rarely shown, this feature is almost legendary because of its unavailability. I waited for decades to see it and finally found a 16mm print for sale on e-Bay. Sadly, the print quality was abysmal...so bad that at times the players features seemed to be washed off their faces. I reluctantly returned it to the seller. Indeed there may be no decent prints of it in existence. A friend borrowed a 16mm print from Universal Pictures (before the 2008 studio fire consumed their 16mm library) and he said that even their print was substandard. I notice the director, Harry Joe Brown only directed two more pictures after Sitting Pretty. Small wonder. He had been, and continued to be, a successful producer up into the 1960's.
Long a fan of Miss Rogers, as well as rest of the cast, I really expected to love this movie. The final production number, built around the "Dream Walking" song, is truly amazing. It is the closest imitation of Busby Berkeley's work I have seen to date. Ginger is truly jaw dropping in her black sequined dress. It is, however, too little too late to save the picture. Fortunately upon completing Sitting Pretty, Ginger rode her bicycle back to RKO and embarked on one of Hollywood's most legendary careers. She would be sitting pretty for a very long time! Luckily the rest of the cast also emerged unscathed.
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