11 November 2007 | donofthedial
Greatest strengths - Irving Berlin score, plus Dick Powell and Alice Faye
Songs include : He Ain't Got Rhythm - This Year's Kisses - You're Laughing At Me - The Girl on the Police Gazette Slumming On Park Avenue - I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
"On The Avenue" has been sitting on my video shelf for more than a dozen years - unwatched and overlooked. An oversight.
In spite of one of the other reviews above, the film is hardly the cinema tragedy painted by that reviewer.
Dick Powell, on loan out from Warner Brothers to Fox, Madeline Carroll and Alice Faye and The Ritz Brothers head an all star cast of Hollywood favorites - Joan Davis, Billy Gilbert, Alan Mowbray, Walter Catlett, George Barbier, Cora Witherspoon, Sig Ruman, Stepin Fetchit and others.
The production values are quite high, though the story in uninspired. Beautiful crisp blacks and whites fill the screen. Half a dozen hit tunes - some still performed 70 years later - written by Irving Berlin. Both Powell and Faye are in top voice and each get their share of tunes to introduce.
Alice Faye receives third billing under Powell and Carroll. This was likely one of the last times she would be billed as such - top stardom was right around the corner for her.
The dance routines are very 1930s and staged, somewhat generically, by Seymour Felix - lots of chorus girls and big stages. Sadly, "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm", the most enduring song of the film, is kind of tossed away in a production number of modest proportions.
The Ritz Brothers are an acquired taste, perhaps. They do have some better moments in the film, especially so in the opening number where they are less zany than in the rest of the film. Dance skills? Absolutely!
Madeline Carroll is an attractive woman, but Alice Faye sings, dances and quietly radiant through-out the entire film.
There are some amusing similarities between this film and "Hollywood Hotel" another Dick Powell from 1937 - both are show business stories, Powell gets slapped in the face in both films by a stuck up girl and uses the same facial expression both times, Powell escorts his female star around the circumference of an outdoor fountain at night in both films, Alan Mowbray also appears in both films
It's not a great film or a great musical, but it is as entertaining as many musicals of the era with it's greatest strengths being its score and its 2 top performers, Powell and Faye.