We have 5 featured singers or singing groups, plus the often zany dance team of teenage Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan, sometimes billed as Universal's answer to MGM's Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland team. As singers, besides Don and Peggy, Ray Eberle was occasionally on hand with his orchestra, which backed up some of the other musical numbers. Ray had been a soloist for Glenn Miller, while brother Bob was a soloist for the Jimmy Dorsey and some other bands.Frank Sinatra had great respect for his singing talent and feared that Ray would get ahead of him as a solo pop singer. Here, Ray sings Sinatra;s big hit of the previous year "All or Nothing at All". According to Sinatra, his rendition was recorded and released in '39, but went nowhere. Rereleased in '43, it became his first big hit as an independent singer... Also on hand is the all African American Bobby Brooks Quartette to sing "At Sundown". Bobby's soprano-like voice sounds like it should be coming out of a woman! Another member of the quartette with a deep base voice sometimes chimed in for contrast. This group also had a song in the '43 Universal films "Top Man" and "Honeymoon Lodge"
The fifth featured singer is blond Suzanna Foster, who also serves as Don's reluctant love interest. Under contract with Universal since '41, she had starred in the Technicolor "Phamtom of the Opera", which showcased her remarkable coloratura soprano voice.But, from there it was downhill, in her mind, as she was included in a series of low budget, mostly B&W, films in '44 and '45, including this one.She walked out in '45. Ironically, here, she plays an 18 year old infatuated with a man probably 20 years her senior, who's not interested in her. Ironically, a few years later, she would marry a singer 20 years older. Despite 2 children, this didn't work out very well and her life continued to spiral downward until she was homeless, living in her car, for a while .She seems to have suffered from a degree of mental illness in her later years, as did her alcoholic mother and drug-addicted son. Her other son has posted a partial biography and some of her films, including the present one, on You Tube.
The film begins with Don(Jimmy) carrying a cake for Angela's(Suzanne) 18th birthday. It ends with Angela finishing "It's a Girl", on stage, begun by Don, symbolizing their long delayed romantic union. The last note of this song tests Suzanna's high range, thus the title of this review. Here and there, Suzanna sings several other songs, the most familiar being "With a Song in My Heart", my favorite. Through most of the film, Angela's heart flutters for Major Hilary Jarret(Patrick Knowles), established army surgeon, divorced from his professional photographer wife. Problem is the Major is not interested in marriage, especially with such a young woman, who wants a house in the country with a white picket fence and, no doubt, a couple of kids. The Major has long been hooked on an adventurous life, traveling to various parts of the world, and is in no mood to settle down. Nonetheless, Angela eventually weasels an engagement ring out of him. Meanwhile, Jimmy(Don), is in love with Angela, but she considers him too young and immature. Sally (Peggy Ryan) has fun dancing and singing with Jimmy and wants him for her boyfriend. But, she can't shake off his lust for Angela. Jimmy eventually meets the Major's ex-wife, Harriet(Louise Allbritton): a striking -looking blond. Jimmy tries to weasel his way into her life to try to rekindle a romance between her and the Major, to get Angela away from the Major. It's a very hard sell, but persistence eventually pays off, and he eventually convinces Angela that Harriet is the right woman for the Major, despite their problems. At the end, Angela is beginning to warm up to Jimmy, and thus presumably a happy ending for two couples is in the offing, but still leaving Sally in the cold.
Given the prior dialogue, one has to suspect that the Major and Harriet were mostly play acting their apparent reconciliation. Perhaps Harriet had been a demure nobody when they married. But now she was a head-strong bossy traveling professional. Marriage seemed as impractical for her as for the Major.
One gets the impression that the message of this film is that young women shouldn't be tempted to marry men more their father's age. Well, my wife is 21 years younger than I, and we've been together 24 years now. It all depends on the personalities and circumstances of the individuals.
One of the highlights of this film is the informal "You're a Lollapalooza". Peggy starts out singing in her somewhat squeaky voice, joined by Don, with his rich mellow voice. Then they do a wild bebop-style dance. Lollapalooza means an extraordinary or very interesting person or thing, which Don was. Peggy later initiated a stage number "Yippee-I-Voot"('the hepcat cowboy's melody') in cowgirl attire and Betty Hutton-exuberant style.Don later joins her in song and dance. Peggy has one more stage number: "Gremlin-Walk", in which supposed gremlins, in clown suits, eventually appear, to dance with her, as she is trying to sleep. Yes, Peggy shines in this one.
I recommend this film primarily for its musical highlights. The romantic melodrama gets a bit tedious after a while: the downfall of many musicals of this era.
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