Does anybody know? #1

Wayward Hayworth 

Does anybody know if Columbia Pictures ever made a good musical?

I was all set to enjoy YOU’LL NEVER GET RICH — I like Robert Benchley*, and I love Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. The film has an amusing credit sequence, there’s a little dance between Fred and Rita which is quite charming, and then it becomes a shapeless unfunny lumbering thing without appealing characters or interesting situations or even much good musical action. I haven’t seen all of it but I probably won’t watch more unless somebody tells me there’s a great dance at 1hr 22 mins or something.

I haven’t watched the other Rita and Fred show, YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER, but am I wrong in assuming it’s identical in every way?

I got a deja vu feeling and remembered how much I’d disliked DOWN TO EARTH as well — forced and unfunny and kind of DUMB in a way that even really silly Hollywood movies weren’t, usually.

In a flash, I just remembered THE SKY’S THE LIMIT, which has Astaire’s great angry dance to “One for my baby”, but checking it, I find it’s an R.K.O. Radio Picture.

TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT kind of bored me too, and it had some really horrid colour schemes, like M.G.M. seen through a hangover, though there was one nice bit where a young artiste tap-dances to a Hitler broadcast: “No, leave it on, I often dance to this fellow.” You don’t see nearly enough of that sort of thing.

It might actually be that I just don’t like Columbia. Their idea of greatness was Capra, who I’m rather iffy about. My favourite Columbia films were made by visiting independents — ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. I love GILDA, but the director of that one, Charles Vidor, ended up suing studio boss Harry Cohn for psychological injury. This could be one of those studios that I’m just temperamentally unsuited to.

(I love Paramount, especially 20s-30s. Love Warners, esp. 30s-40s. Love R.K.O. — almost everything. Love lots of different things from Universal. Love M.G.M. musicals but almost nothing else from that studio, and even with the musicals I have to leaven them with something drier or I tend to break out, and not in song.)

happy shiny person

*I like Benchley for his dreamlike qualities. There’s an essay that starts something like this: “So, on top of all this other work I’ve got to do, they tell me I have to build the Hoover Dam. I said to them I was already very busy and couldn’t they get somebody else, but no, it had to be me.”

5 Responses to “Does anybody know? #1”

  1. I think Cover Girl is a really good musical. And Gilda qualifies as a kind of noir musical

  2. Ah, Cover Girl! I knew there had to be SOMETHING. I’m going to run that one soon.

    Gilda is certainly part-musical.

  3. If you want a good Columbia Musical with Rita in it , then you need PAL JOEY 1957.
    Not great by any means , but there’s a lot to enjoy there.

  4. I do feel sorry for Rita H though, being cast aside for La Novak. It is a good one though.
    But OK, that’s two and a half good Columbia musicals, not exactly the Freed Unit but nothing to sneeze at.

  5. […] comic relief and everything else, AND sensational dancing and songs. I was moaning about all this here before and then the esteemed David E said “They made COVER GIRL, you know,” and I […]

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