Paramount Unimportance

The title PARAMOUNT ON PARADE was taken.

Watching STAR SPANGLED RHYTHM because it’s an Alan Ladd – Veronica Lake movie is a bad idea — they share no scenes, aren’t in the good bits, and don’t really do the things we like to see them do. It’s moderately good fun to see Lake spoof her image in the Sweater, Sarong & Peekaboo Bang number along with Paulette Goddard (?) and Dorothy Lamour, none of whom can sing terribly pleasingly, and it’s, well, strange to see Ladd take part in a pointless, desultory little sketch set in an expressionist pool hall. But then, none of the sketches in the film is any damn good.

Some of the musical numbers are pretty fine, though —

Stick with this one! It’s all about the Golden Gate Quartette (sic).

There is actually a plot, though the movie is forced to suspend it for large swathes of its runtime. It gets us from one musical sequence to another, shoehorns in a bunch of cameos, and the best of these, for both film-historical and entertainment reasons, are those of C.B. DeMille and Preston Sturges. Sturges does a great trip as he angrily exits a screening room. Not quite up to William Demarest standards, but very funny, especially for his furious look right at the camera department.

George Marshall directs, but it’s no BLUE DAHLIA.

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6 Responses to “Paramount Unimportance”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

    “Thank Your Lucky Stars” is a wildly superior version of this sort of All-Star revue. It’s headed by Eddie Cantor but the real fun is the numbers featuring Ann Sheridan, Bette Davis, Alexis Smith, Hattie McDaniels and others on the Warners lot

  2. Ann Sheridan must have baulked at the Sweater Girl number here, which shows a lack of the proper spirit, I feel. But I love her anyway.

  3. chris schneider Says:

    You don’t mention songwriting team Harold Arlen (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics), who are particular favorites of mine. And, good as the Quartette are, I think Mary Martin and Dick Powell also deserve some credit. The staging of “I’m Doin’ It For Defense” is miserable, what with that stuff with the jeep, but the song is so good that I don’t care. There’s also “That Old Black Magic,” which isn’t on my Arlen & Mercer short-list but certainly has staying power.

    In addition to that, there was a funny song Arlen & Mercer wrote for Cass Daley, one that was cut and then showed up in another picture, called “He Loved Me Till The All-Clear Came.” *Very* WW2, And with a punchline — one that you have to search out on tapes of radio performances and/or YouTube — which is decidedly sapphic. As I remember, “he” turns out to be named “Mame.”

  4. bensondonald Says:

    In distant youth I figured Paramount as the good comedy studio, mostly on the strength of local stations running their Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Bob Hope and early Martin & Lewis movies (“newer” Martin and/or Lewis were still in prime time). Warner was great old cartoons and action movies, be they in fedoras or tights. Universal had Abbott & Costello, but was otherwise vintage monsters and scifi, plus modern films differentiated from their TV output by the occasional woman in a bra. MGM was understood to be Important: Upscale fare like Thin Man, or Red Skelton pratfalling in expensive sets. A Fox or Columbia logo didn’t really tip anything for a kid, except when the Columbia segued into a Three Stooges short. The RKO Radio tower was a puzzlement; one was vaguely aware it had been absorbed into something else. Republic was old cowboys and serials. Disney was Disney, its hoarded vault appearing only in a weekly anthology hour when re-release value was exhausted.

    Of course there came a point where identifiable studio styles all but disappeared. Disney clung to a house style until it nearly collapsed, and Universal’s Bs were crowded with familiar faces and exteriors, but that was about it.

  5. ehrenstein47 Says:

  6. ehrenstein47 Says:

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