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Archive for the ‘Alice Faye: SCREEN GODDESS’ Category

Weekend In Havanna

23 Dec

Weekend In Havana – Directed by Walter Lang. Musical. A cruise ship to Cuba crashes and the lawyer assigned to prevent a suit comes up against a determined lady. 81 minutes Color 1941.

* * * *

Brilliant! Partly because of the Technicolor process that made color something it never was in real life. And, of course, one didn’t go to the Fox musicals for real life any more than one went to a box of Toffinetti chocolates for a hearty meal. One went for wit, ebullience, and a blond with the common touch. Alice Faye was an Irish lass from Hell’s Kitchen, good hearted, easy, accessible. She had an allure she seemed almost unaware of, but the camera was not unaware of it. Her big, subtle, sleepy, China-blue eyes and her sensual and volatile mouth drew one in, as did her sultry alto when singing, at which point the camera drew close to catch it all. Gosh, what a lady! And she’s a darn good screen actor, too, as is the lushly handsome John Payne opposite her. The amazing costumes of the Fox musicals are in full array on her, as they also are on that island of tropical repose, Carmen Miranda. This movie is not like one of the deep naturalistic musicals of Gene Kelly at MGM, which moved musicals forward. It was rather the confection of a brilliant production crew and a formula for entertainment that was crisp, exotic, and fantastical in its detail and array. I have a high opinion of Fox musicals. I think of Fox musicals as piñatas. They don’t change much from one to the other. They always have the same predictable function and form, but they bring delight and they are full of astonishing gifts! Also with Billy Gilbert, Leonard Kinsky, Sheldon Leonid, Cesar Romero.

 

 

Tin Pan Alley

04 Jul

Tin Pan Alley – Directed by Walter Lang. Musical. An inconsiderate song plugger looses his mate who runs off to become a stage star with her sister. 94 minutes Black and White 1940.

* * * * *

Alice Faye has the most seductive upper eyelids God ever thought of. She is sultry, easy, withdrawn, and has a magnificent bust. It is interesting to see her paired with Betty Grable who is the opposite. Grable is outgoing, open, eager, and everything is in perfect physical proportion. Actually, neither of these fine ladies is the focal character of this picture. That falls to John Payne, who it is difficult not to look at with wonder and amazement. For he is the most beautiful male imaginable. He first appears in the boxing ring dressed in so little that one can see what a strapping physique he had, broad shouldered, slim, and muscular. In this picture he remains clothed for most of it, and looks good in his suits, which work better than the Edwardian rigs worn by the ladies. (His face resembles that of Lee Pace.) Payne is about 27 years old here and at the peak of his masculinity. He has the perfect patined hair of the era. He has a sensual and flexible mouth, with dimples when he smiles. A wonderful nose. A beautifully shaped head. And so forth and so on, but the reason one cannot take one’s eyes off him is that all of this is backed up by a technique that is fluid, full of fun, and highly responsive. Watch him and Faye and Oakie sing a trio, to see what I mean. The show looks really well rehearsed, and that counts for a lot with this sort of backstage musical. Billy Gilbert sings the Sheik of Araby while the Nicholas Brothers do another of their stupendous dance routines. Jack Oakie in his pie-in-the-face style of acting brings the elan of the died-in-the-wool vaudevillian to the scene, and it’s most welcome in all its silliness. Boy, can he put over a bad song well! I have a strong fondness for Fox musicals. I like their color, and their emotional values, and I rejoice in Betty Grable, who was shortly to replace Alice Faye, to become the top box office movie star for 10 consecutive years. Gosh, was she engaging! There is a certain energetic vulgarity to Fox musicals that I appreciate, so different from RKO’s white telephone musicals and the family-value musicals at MGM. Anyhow this is a good example of the Fox genre. A good film to watch with the whole family.

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Weekend In Havana

29 Mar

Weekend In Havana  –directed by Walter Lang – Musical Comedy. A cruise ship to Cuba crashes and the lawyer assigned to prevent a law suit comes up against a determined lady. 81 minutes Color 1941.

* * * * *

Brilliant! Partly because of the technicolor process that made color something it never was in real life. And, of course, in those days one didn’t go to the Fox musicals for real life — heaven forfend! — any more than one went to a box of Barricini chocolates for a hearty meal. One went for wit, ebullience, and a blond with the common touch. Alice Faye was an Irish lass from Hell’s Kitchen, good hearted, easy, accessible. She had an allure she seemed almost unaware of, but the camera was not unaware of it. Her big, subtle, sleepy, China-blue eyes and her sensual and volatile mouth drew one in, as did her sultry alto when singing, at which point the camera and all the crew drew close to catch it all. Gosh, what a lady! And she’s a darn good screen actor, as is the lushly handsome John Payne opposite her. The amazing costumes of the Fox musicals are in full array on Faye — as they also are on that island of tropical repose, Carmen Miranda. This movie is not like one of the deep “naturalistic” musicals of Gene Kelly at MGM, which moved musicals forward. Fox musical marked time in dazzling close order drill. They were rather the confection of a brilliant production crew and a formula for entertainment that was crisp, exotic, and fantastical in its detail and array. I have a high opinion of Fox musicals. I think of Fox musicals as piñatas. They always have the same predictable function. Their contents don’t change much from one to the other: they’re vibrantly vulgar and gaudy, but give them a good whack and they bring delight because they are full of astonishingly colored gifts!

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