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  • Universal released this film shortly before America entered the war in 1941 but it has a feeling of escapist fare that would make a country or a G.I. forget his or her troubles even if for only 62 minutes. It's got an easy to follow plot, beautiful girls and the incredible singing of the Merry Macs, a wonderful singing quartet who made their most famous film with Abbott and Costello in Ride Em Cowboy (1942). The group has several delightful songs that would please any audience of any era in time. Lon Chaney Jr. and Shemp Howard are a poor man's version of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello (it's very probable that the writers used the comic duo as inspiration for this). Shemp is hysterical as a bumbling thug who can't seem to keep his mind off of the ladies. Eve Arden is a highlight as she delivers her lines with the skill of a veteran comedian. Pity that it's one of those seldom seen gems that languish away in deteriorating vaults that may never see the light of day again. If you are lucky enough to find it, grab it and just enjoy away. Don't look for Gone With The Wind but be prepared for an hour of wonderful singing and some good comic bits.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Comedy and music are key in this above average B from Universal where the Merry Macs, the beautiful Jane Frazee, the wisecracking Eve Arden and bumbling gangsters in the form of Shemp Howard and...get this...Lon Chaney Jr. It's a breezy hour that flies by from the B musical unit from Universal, not a classy affair like the Deanna Durbin musicals or featuring Olsen and Johnson like the A release of "Hellzapoppin'". The hot beat of the 1940's is totally jivin' here, and it is a ton of fun.

    What there is in story involves Frazer and Arden running a nightclub that they simply got locked in overnight that seems to have been abandoned. A band hired by the owners who are nowhere to be found shows up, and Frazee finds romance with bandleader Robert Paige. They turn it into the hottest spot in town, and at the height of their opening, all hell breaks loose. Bartender Howard got his experience "spending a lot of time behind bars", while chef Chaney broils a steak meant to be rare until it's burnt, eventually showing up with a raw side of beef. It all ends with a water fight, and while there's a few issues unresolved, the job has been done. As usual, Arden gets in the best lines, promising to write a check for the two hoods and sign it a weak later. The check may bounce, but so will you to the fabulous melody of this pre-war musical.
  • 1941's "San Antonio Rose" is a delightful musicomedy 'B' from Universal's busy wartime era, an early credit for future horror star Lon Chaney, just a few months before "The Wolf Man" (which became the first film to drop the 'Jr.' from his name). Playing the bullying hoodlum Jigsaw Kennedy, Chaney gets teamed with former (and future) Stooge Shemp Howard, delivering a number of slaps just like Moe, or perhaps Bud Abbott. Working on behalf of a crooked nightclub owner, the two try to disrupt business for a rival club across town, but fail to reckon with the awesome Eve Arden ("take your gat and git!"). Much like Joan Davis in Abbott and Costello's "Hold That Ghost," the 29 year old Eve proves to be an expert scene stealer, and easy on the eyes as well (only singing a duet with Jane Frazee). The Merry Macs, better known for appearing with Ella Fitzgerald in another Abbott and Costello, "Ride 'Em Cowboy" (which began shooting just weeks after this film wrapped) enjoy their finest showcase here, introducing the popular "Hut Sut Song," which as kids we all heard in the concurrent Warner Brothers cartoon "Horton Hatches the Egg" (many will no doubt recognize "Hi Neighbor"). Charles Lamont would become one of Abbott and Costello's most prolific directors, and a good time was had by all, great fun for Chaney fans.
  • I saw the website rating for "San Antonio Rose" and thought it would be a good one to buy. I really enjoy musicals, especially if the music is good, and I thought the cast was intriguing and with some interesting possibilities. So it was a big letdown to watch and wait for something better.

    I didn't mind that the story was half-baked, because most often with musicals you wait for the songs anyway - and this one was half-baked. But with a musical comedy the comedy is often funny, but not here. It's too late now, but Lon Chaney cannot do comedy. He and Shemp Howard are a slapstick team of bumbling crooks and it was painful to watch Chaney slap Howard around - not like in the 3 Stooges shorts. And Eve Arden, one of my favorites, tried her best but was given some wisecracks which were unfunny and lacked the acerbic bite she was famous for.

    The music, however, was a mixed bag. Saving grace here was The Merry Macs, who were a treat to watch and hear. Having said that, they can't carry a movie by themselves but were just about the best part of the picture. They sang "The Hut-Sut Song", which I thought was the best number in the picture. Most of the rest of the score was forgettable, but as I said, this was a 'B' musical. If it comes on TV it is worth watching as it is a mercifully short 63 minutes.
  • Hope (Jane Frazee) and Gabby (Eve Arden) hitch their way to the "Plantation", a venue owned by Nick Ferris (Luis Alberni) where they are hoping for an audition. However, the owner of a rival venue sends a couple of thugs - Jigsaw (Lon Chaney Jr) and Benny (Shemp Howard) - to the "Plantation" and Ferris ends up closing down his nightclub within half an hour as a result. Hope and Gabby end up locked inside the club and spend the night there. The next day, the Merry Macs arrive as they have been booked to perform. With no-one around, Hope, Gabby and the Merry Macs take management of the club into their own hands. They spread the word and people start to flock to their venue. An attempt is made to sabotage their plan as Jigsaw and Benny turn up again, posing as a couple of waiters with a mission to drive everyone away.

    The story is largely irrelevant as this film is basically an excuse to churn out several music numbers that are nice but forgettable. There are some amusing segments that come from Eve Arden and her wisecracks and Lon Chaney Jr when he is being rude to everyone who arrives at the restaurant section of the club - "what do you want?". He is pure class as he throws the menus onto the table for the guests. That's it, I'm afraid, on the comedy front. Lon Chaney Jr is also involved in the more tedious sections of the film which involve a sort of mock Abbott and Costello routine between him and Shemp Howard, whereby he keeps slapping Howard and it's just not ever funny. Just like Abbott and Costello are never funny. Shemp Howard is really irritating in this film - he's sort of an American Norman Wisdom - really unfunny. Based on his performance here, I have no intention of ever watching anything by 'The Three Stooges'. Ever.

    Despite some good songs - all of them are quite catchy and performed in that group swing-style a la Andrews Sisters - it's just not enough to warrant keeping onto the film to watch again. There is also a half-hearted attempt at romance chucked in that is very unconvincing and pointless. A final mention must go to the ruling by the Hayes Code that did not allow married couples to share a bed. Well, in this film, Jigsaw and Benny share a bed together so it seems that poofery is OK by the powers that be but not straight relationships. It's a crazy world we live in.