1 October 2008 | frankfob
Like Grable, it's pretty to look at. That's about it
Splashy Technicolor musical with Betty Grable and Martha Raye has beautiful photography, Grable's incredible legs--although they're not featured as much as you'd think they'd be, considering they were what she was most famous for--and not a whole lot more. The musical numbers are for the most part uninspired, and the casting of unknown John Harvey as Grable's romantic interest was a big mistake. He's a bland, not particularly good actor who tries too hard to be the peppy "boy next door" type and has no chemistry at all with Grable. Dorothea Kent as Grable's sidekick is enjoyable but for some reason she vanishes about halfway through the film. Martha Raye, as always, gives it her best but the songs they stuck her with are, to be charitable, pedestrian and, in the case of "Yankee Doodle Hayride", downright stupid. Grable's "Don't Carry Tales Out of School" is boring--I have no idea why it's performed two different times in the film, as it doesn't get better with repetition. Raye's "Red Robins, Bobwhites and Bluebirds" is a juvenile time-waster and she looks almost embarrassed performing it--the lyrics are childish and the song makes virtually no sense. Just about the only number that has any spark at all is "Once Too Often", which Grable dances with the great Hermes Pan. It's not one of his or Grable's best, but compared to the rest of the numbers in this picture, it's a masterpiece. Joe E. Brown is an acquired taste, which I haven't acquired, but if you like him I guess this is as good a place to see him as any. The tap-dancing Condos Brothers are good, there's a campy but somewhat entertaining roller-skating number early in the film and a very bizarre and really out-of-place sequence at the end where Betty is a drill sergeant putting a female drill team through a series of complicated marching routines--it's almost surreal to watch her carrying a sword and shouting "Dress that line, there!" and "Hup, hip, hoop, harch!"--but even that dose of wartime weirdness doesn't do much for the picture. Overall it's a lower-rank, by-the-numbers effort from people who've done far better. Worth a look maybe just so you can say you've seen it, but other than that, there's not much reason to spend any time on it.