A young girl fresh out of reform school who is singing in a burlesque show is offered a scholarship to a famous music camp by the camp's owner. She must overcome the suspicions of the other ... Read allA young girl fresh out of reform school who is singing in a burlesque show is offered a scholarship to a famous music camp by the camp's owner. She must overcome the suspicions of the other students in order to prove herself.A young girl fresh out of reform school who is singing in a burlesque show is offered a scholarship to a famous music camp by the camp's owner. She must overcome the suspicions of the other students in order to prove herself.
In spite of all of that, the movie ends up being very well-done. Unlike a similar film two years earlier, "They Shall Have Music," this movie doesn't just include kids, it's ABOUT kids. And frankly, the kids carry the movie and steal the show here. Their lack of acting experience only adds to the spontaneity of the film. Kaye Connor, one of the few kids with any acting background, does a good job of covering for the others when needed. Prodigy Patricia Travers is surprisingly effective portraying a spoiled brat. 14 year old Heimo Haitto is as unbuttoned in the movie as he was in real life. And a young Diana Lynn (as Dolly Loehr) appears in the first of her many ingénue' roles.
Musically, the film is excellent. The kids actually perform all the music they're seen playing, and they do so as well as professionals. This isn't surprising, since many of the kids in the orchestra, who came from various training orchestras in the Los Angeles area (notably the Meremblum orchestra) were also in the youth orchestra of the Goldwyn film "They Shall Have Music", made two years earlier. Opera stars Richard Bonelli, Tandy MacKenzie, and Irra Petina appear in the finale. Works performed are by Wagner (from the operas "Rienzi" and "Tannhäuser"), Sousa (Stars and Stripes Forever), Anton Rubinstein (Romance in E-flat, sung by Connor and performed by Travers), Brahms (Hungarian Rhapsody no. 5, performed by Haitto), Grieg (Piano Concerto, performed by the orchestra and Loehr/Lynn), Gounod (from Faust) and Bizet (Carmen). The finale, which features Faust and Carmen performed and sung simultaneously, is a wonder all by itself.
Foster is given plenty of chance to show off her incredible range, hitting and holding a near-impossible B flat over High C (by contrast, the great Lily Pons could only reach F over High C, although admittedly, Pons had a much more dynamic voice). She also does excellent imitations of Marlene Dietrich, Bonnie Baker, and Judy Canova, and a reasonable one of Katherine Hepburn.
All in all, this is a wonderful film that's been terribly neglected. Good luck finding a copy of it anywhere---it took me six months. Maybe we can persuade one of the classic movie cable stations to play it.
- Mar 23, 2004