"Everybody Sing" is a hodgepodge of a musical, comedy, and romance. The film itself is similar to the mess of the dysfunctional family that the movie takes place around. There's a lot of acting talent with prominent actors of the day in here. The very young (16) Judy Garland has second billing to actor-singer Allan Jones. She hadn't yet achieved top star status, but would the next year with two successive smash hit films - "The Wizard of Oz" and "Babes in Arms." Actually, right after this movie, Garland would make the first of several films with Mickey Rooney in the Andy Hardy series. That would cement her singing voice and roles for her career.
This film is a very interesting look at Garland, whose voice was not yet quite settled, even though she had been performing in vaudeville with two older sisters. It also has some good singing and uplifting acting by Allan Jones and Fanny Brice. Brice made only seven movies, and this is a good film to see the comedic talent of the Ziegfeld Follies comedienne. Barbra Streisand, in "Funny Girl" of 1968 gave Brice's name recognition for a generation that hadn't known of the famous Broadway star. But this and the other half dozen films Brice was in shows that she didn't have a very dynamic singing voice. Her comedy made her acts. Streisand's 1968 role highlighted the comedy, but her very talented voice also gave the allusion that Brice might have been known and famous for her singing as well.
Anyway, a host of other very good actors lend to the comedy and wonderful acting and mayhem in this film. None other than Billie Burke plays Garland's Judy Bellaire's mother, Diana Bellaire. Reginald Owen plays her dad, Hillary Bellaire. Reginald Gardiner plays an actor, Jerrold Hope, and Monty Woolley plays John Fleming. Other good roles are turned in by Lynne Carver as Sylvia Bellaire and Henry Armetta as Signor Vittorino
The screenplay for this film seems a little slipshod, and the filming, editing and direction have some problems. But this film has as much historical value as anything, in the cast it has assembled for the times in the careers of various members. The last of the Ziegfeld Follies had been staged in 1936 and Fanny Brice was done on Broadway. But she would continue to star on the long-running "Baby Snooks" radio show until her death in 1951. Judy Garland was just on the road to stardom as a singer and actress, but her life would be one of problems with five marriages, drugs and alcohol until she would die of a barbiturate overdose at just 47 years of age in 1969.
Billie Burke was at the height of her career and would go on to make many movies in splendid supporting roles as the giddy, forgetful, and very funny matron of the household. Allan Jones was just getting his start and would appear in several more musicals into the early 1940s when he became one of the first performers to volunteer to entertain the troops during WW II. After the war, he played the nightclub circuit for 20 years and then appeared in a couple of later musicals.
Reginald Owen was continuing in his stride and had three decades remaining of very good movies, TV films and TV shows, many with his bombastic comedic persona. Reginald Gardiner too, had a flourishing career ahead with many good supporting roles. Monty Wooley would continue acting in some leads but mostly fine supporting roles for more than two decades. But two members of this fine cast would have their careers and lives end early due to health. But both performed right up until their end. Henry Armetta would die of a heart attack at age 57 in 1945; and Lynn Carver would die of cancer at age 38 in 1955.
"Everybody Sing" isn't in the league of top musical revue films that Hollywood would make many of through the 1950s. But, it is a good film, with some good singing and routines, and some good humor along with looks at some wonderful performers of the past
Here are some favorite lines from this film.
Diana Bellaire, "Olga, this isn't what I want. I said strawberry jam." Olga Chekaloff, "You said blackberry but I gave you the raspberry." Diana Bellaire, "Olga, your cap is on crooked."
Hillary Bellaire, "What a household. Servants butting in, telling you how things should be done." John Fleming, "Well, after all, they represent the masses. Do you know what I mean by the masses? People who are not actors. There are dozens of them and they come in very handy at the box office. Strangely enough, if they don't like a show, the show closes. Moliere, if you remember, used to ask the advice of his cook."
John Fleming, "Olga..." Olga Chekaloff, "Yes, sir." John Fleming, "... what do you think of Mr. Bellaire's play?" Olga Chekaloff, "Well, it depends on how I feel. Sometimes I feel it ain't so bad, and sometimes I feel it ain't so good. But I don't like to say."
Hillary Bellaire, "I'd like that speech better if I hadn't written it myself."
Diana Bellaire, "Only a woman suffers as a woman can - quietly, deeply, bravely." Hillary Bellaire, "I wrote those lines too."