2 May 2005 | mik-19
"All good-lookin' like he is, there's no use in getting' yourself all messed up", a black boy ponders, when 'Skeets' Harrigan (John Payne) drops out of a promising boxing career to pursue his dreams of becoming a renowned Tin Pan Alley song publisher with his friend from the Midwest, Harry Calhoun (Jack Oakie). On their way to the top they meet the Blane sisters, Katie (Alice Faye) and Lily (Betty Grable). 'Skeets' and Katie fall in love, but he is adamantly focused on his career and when he gives a song meant for Katie to a famous musical star, she has had it and leaves for London with her sister. That is when World War I erupts ...
'Tin Pan Alley' has more charm than it has plot, and it's a delightful watch with charismatic actors. Faye and Grable are a wonderful pair of tap-dancing sisters, Oakie is genuinely funny as the befuddled average Joe playing at being a tough guy, and John Payne, a Robert Taylor look-alike, clearly in a role that must have been written for typical Faye co-star Tyrone Power, rises to the occasion and delivers his all, a perfect mix of athletic hunkiness and crooning abilities, not the easiest performance to pull of, as 'Skeets' is quite callous in the way he presses forward.
The film abounds with great music and showpieces, 'Honeysuckle Rose' in Faye's very nice rendition with a boy chorus, 'The Sheik of Araby' featuring glorious tap-dancing by The Nicholas Brothers, the rousing "America, I Love You", and the only song actually written for the film, Harry Warren's 'You Say the Sweetest Things (Baby)", utilized to the fullest in a clever montage.