Archive for the ‘Edward Everett Horton’ Category

Springtime In The Rockies

04 Jun

Springtime In The Rockies – directed by Irving Cummings. Backstage Musical. 91 minutes Color 1942.


The Story: A Broadway star flees from the unsteady attentions of her fiancé and dances off with a cad to perform at Canada’s Lake Louise, which is somehow invaded by Brazil.


There are sixteen reasons for the focus on the Latin American market in this musical. The first one is the wartime need to confirm South-Of-The-Border friendly relations in order to keep the Axis out of the Western Hemisphere. The other fifteen are that island of repose, Carmen Miranda.

For here she is friends, in all her comic electricity, her big heart, her fanatical hands, her inexplicable and perfect enunciation, and her hips. She appears before us at all times on heels which are stacked as tall as she. She delivers her good natured malapropisms with zest and shrewdness and conviction. She brings every scene she is in to life, and she would exhaust us if she were in any more of them.

We also have Betty Grable at her best, and this is one of Grable’s best musicals. As usual she is better in her early scenes because the writing and direction is fresh, and because she was left to her own devices. But she is one of the most outgoing of performers – the most widely skilled of all the female musical stars of her era – generous and loads of fun.

As a dancer she is a power in a body. She moves with miles of technique around her. She dances with John Payne in a thunderstorm and is brilliantly inventive and right. In the finale, she appears with him in the most beautiful dance costume she ever wore – bare shoulders and turquoise sequins from her bust to her hips, then half fringed to her thighs and fully fringed to her calves. Take your eyes from her if you can.

She is essentially a comedy dancer. Cyd Charisse was one too, but Grable is quite different, so that, unlike the poker-faced Charisse, you cannot take Grable seriously in a solemn tango with Cesar Romero which Hermes Pan has choreographed for her in a misguided attempt to imagine she has the port de bras of Ginger Rogers.

Charlotte Greenwood does her usual high kick number she – which she has done in many musicals and whose merits I have never understood. Jackie Gleason has moments of his characteristic authority as the agent. Harry James, who married Grable, is mercifully whisked off stage when he is not playing the trumpet. And Edward Everett Horton plays the millionaire butler always so necessary for these musicals.

The Whitman Sampler plot of these Fox musicals is before us, and carries us in any direction that appeals to the eye. It does not much matter. For Grable is an actress of wonderful application, as witness her delightful scene with Miranda in the powder room.

Entertainment is the order of business – and why not? Sample it, whydoncha? It’s not fattening and it leaves no bitter aftertaste. Indeed, no after of any kind. And taste was never the issue to begin with.


Reaching For The Moon

19 Jun

Reaching For The Moon — Directed by Edmund Goulding. Musical. An inconsiderate tycoon looses it all in the crash as he falls for a millionairess. 71 minutes Black and White 1931.

* * * *

A musical curiously truncated by the removal of all the music. Irving Berlin’s pieces, too. But judging by what was left in, they must have been stinkersoos. Bing Crosby sings one of the remains. And a beautiful actress, Bebe Daniels, sings another. Even these we might have been spared. Except that Bebe Daniels, who made 230 movies in her lifetime, is an enchanting actress, I am riveted by her ease of attack, fluidity, musicality of delivery. If she appeared in films today she would be entirely acceptable and desirable. Wonderful eyes. I am in love. The script is raised above the floor by the presence of Edward Everett Horton who plays the mentor butler hilariously. Risque too in those pre-code days. His Mr. is Douglas Fairbanks playing a bumptious billionaire. Laughing perpetually, he races around after Daniels, crawls up the walls, slides down the flagpole and in general inspires her derision, until… until he speaks his true heart. Now never let two things be said again: 1] that he was not an actor; 2] that he avoided love-scenes. For he is superb in this scene, and no wonder it wins her. Fairbanks they say was at the end of his career and downcrest and frantic; they say he was not interested in talkies and grieved the loss of the acrobatic spectacles he made his name with, but…he was too old. He’s in his late 40s. He had only two films left in him. Fairbanks doesn’t sing, but the sets by William Cameron Menzies do. If you’ve never seen a White Telephone Movie this one will boggle your eyes. Check out that ocean liner, check out that nightclub. And check out those evening gowns, boys and girls. Wow, did they ever know how to drape a lady’s derriere. Sweet were the times. The film ends abruptly at its climax. Like this.







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