30 October 2010 | HarlowMGM
Una Merkel's A Sweetheart, The Movie is Nobody's Darling
Una Merkel was one of the most popular second-leads during the 1930's in Hollywood, adding so much to many classics with her delightful comic personality. SWEETHEARTS OF THE USA (1944) offers Una - quite lovely and youthful at 40 - a rare top-billed role but not much else. Una stars as a defense plant worker who accidentally knocks herself out with a heavy wrench and while out dreams she is blackballed out of the industry by her mean boss, leading her to seek a new career, opening a nightclub for servicemen and plant workers with the aid of her boyfriend. radio comedian Parkyakarkus, a rather incompetent detective. It's not a "spoiler" to reveal it's all a dream given midway in the film it pointlessly gives us a few seconds of footage of the still unconscious Merkel on the plant floor thus ruining the "surprise" of the ending.
This Monogram musical doesn't offer much for comedy other than Una's vivacious personality and Parkyakarkus' mangling of common American phrases. There are several songs and (quite modest) dance numbers and in true low-budget 40's movie fashion, a couple of the tunes are repeated. Other low-budget tell tales include limited sets, a low number of closeups, and apparent camera glare from a lighted chandelier.
Una Merkel was at a career low point at the time and this was the end of her career as a "youngish" performer, when she returned to films three years later in 1947 it would be as a decidedly middle-aged character actress. This modest little movie is no great shakes; to quote The Gin Blossoms, "If you don't expect too much, you might not be let down". Not terrible but definitely not good and it was rather nice to see the always endearing Una Merkel in a starring role even if this film was far from worthy of her talents.