30 July 2005 | Tom_Barrister
Decent "B" Musical by Universal
During the war years of the 1940's, Universal produced a string of "Hep-cat" musicals, one of which "What's Cookin'?". The general idea of these movies was to cram in as much song, dance, comedy, variety, and "hep" talk as possible---then build a story around that. The movies, which were usually the second half of a twin-bill, were built to appeal to the young crowd; as such, they were fast-paced, light, breezy fare.
"What's Cookin'?" was no exception. The plot, an adaption of the Edgar Allan Woolf story "Wake up and Dream", was tailored to the teen viewers: The kids want a swing concert, but a stuffy highbrow adult prefers the classics. The kids contrive to get their way, and swing music wins.
The music and other entertainment is excellent: The Andrews Sisters headed the bill. Popular teen singer Gloria Jean has a prominent part in the movie. There were plenty of other stars of the day: Woody Herman and orchestra, Jane Frazee, Robert Paige, Billie Burke, and The Jivin' Jacks and Jills, to name a few.
But the movie is probably most noteworthy as being the first one made by Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan as a song/dance team. They were listed ninth and tenth in the credits.....something that never happened again in the twelve movies they appeared together in (not counting "Follow the Boys", which featured nearly every star in Universal's employ as well as many who were not).
As is the case with most of the "B" musicals of the 1940's, this one is rarely seen, and finding a copy of it is difficult. However, you can get a copy of this movie from Gloria Jean herself on her website. IMDb policy forbids the posting of URL's in reviews; however you can find her website by using your favorite search engine and her full name of "Gloria Jean Schoonover".
All in all, "What's Cookin'?" is good entertainment, although a lot of the dialog is dated to that era. If you like the old musicals, you'll probably enjoy this one.