18 September 2009 | bkoganbing
Where The Real Elite Met
After the days of Prohibition where Sherman Billingsley made his money, he founded The Stork Club which was in New York what the Cocoanut Grove was in Los Angeles, where the elite meet to eat as Duffy's Tavern used to advertise. It was only natural that sooner or later one of the studios would make a film centered on the famous night spot and Paramount was the one that finally did it.
The nightclub serves as a backdrop for the story of one of the hatcheck girls in this case Betty Hutton. When she sees Barry Fitzgerald falling in a lake and starting to drown, Betty remembers her Girl Scout training and jumps in and saves him. Barry doesn't tell her, but he's a multimillionaire who then becomes her secret benefactor, much like Magwitch was to Pip in Great Expectations. Of course it all turns out a lot happier in the end for this cast.
Barry's presence leads returning serviceman boyfriend Don DeFore to suspect the worst that Betty's found herself a rich sugar daddy. It doesn't sit too well with Mrs. Fitzgerald played by Mary Young.
Fitzgerald was in the publicity gathered by his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Going My Way. For the next few years Barry received more screen time and in this case, co-star billing with Betty Hutton.
As for Betty she and the cast get songs from a variety of sources. The best known number is the famous Hoagy Carmichael-Paul Francis Webster song, Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief which Hutton sings with her usual gusto. Betty's fine, but the really primo version of this song was done by it's composer who was a pretty fair entertainer as well.
Owner Sherman Billingsley was played by actor/radio announcer Bill Goodwin. In real life Billingsley was hardly as genial a person as Goodwin plays him.
Still the film is a must for Betty Hutton fans and for those who want to celebrate the past era of gaudy, yet tasteful nightspots.