Sunday, April 15, 2012
Ginger Rogers Film Review #23 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
Run Time (approximate): 89 Minutes
Directed by: Ray Enright.
Assistant Director (Second Unit): Gordon Hollingshead.
Production Management: Al Alleborn.
Dialogue Director: Stanley Logan.
Cinematography by: Sidney Hickox.
Art Director: Esdras Hartley.
Editor: Clarence Kolster.
Camera Operator: Wesley Anderson.
Sound Recorder: Gordon M. Davis.
Sound Mixer: C. A. Riggs.
Lyrics: Al Dubin.
Music: Harry Warren.
Conductor of Vitaphone Orchestra: Leo F. Forbstein.
Music Arranger: Ray Heindorf.
Music Mixer: George Groves.
Makeup: Perc Westmore.
Costume Design: Orry-Kelly.
Costume Jeweller: Eugene Joseff.
Supervisor: Samuel Bischoff.
Also Starring: Pat O'Brien (as Russell Edward 'Rush' Blake), Dick Powell (as Buddy Clayton), Donald Mills (Himself - one of the Four Mills Brothers), Harry Mills (Himself - one of the Four Mills Brothers), Herbert Mills (Himself - one of the Four Mills Brothers), John Mills (Himself - one of the Four Mills Brothers), Ted Fio Rito (as Himself - Leader of the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra), Allen Jenkins (as 'Uncle' Pete), Grant Mitchell (as Chester A. Sharpe), Joseph Cawthorn (as Herbert 'Herbie' Brokman), Joan Wheeler (as Marge the Receptionist), Henry O'Neill (as Lemuel Tappan), Johnny Arthur (as Norma Hanson's Secretary), Jimmy Hollywood (as Himself - one of the Three Radio Rogues), Eddie Bartell (as Himself - one of the Three Radio Rogues), Henry Taylor (as Himself - one of the Three Radio Rogues).
UNCREDITED CAST: Oscar Apfel (as Walcott - Hotel Manager), Diane Borget (as Radio Fan), Matt Brooks (as Third Hillbilly), George Chandler (as Reporter Johnny Klinger), Virginia Dabney (minor role), William B. Davidson (as Bill - Woodcliff Inn Manager), The Debutantes (as Themselves - song 'What Are Your Intentions?'), Shirley Dunstead (as Patron at Woodcliff Inn), Jay Eaton (as Hotel Desk Clerk), Bill Elliot (as Third Man in Brass Rail), Fern Emmett (as Radio Fan in Bed), Leo F. Forbstein (as Conductor Brusiloff), Eddie Foster (as First Hillbilly), Morris Goldman (as Fourth Hillbilly), Eddie Graham (as Brass Rail Patron Wanting 3 Beers), Charles Halton (as Sound Effects Man), Sam Hayes (as Sam, Peggy's Announcer), Grace Hayle (as Mrs. Martha Brokman), George Humbert (as Woodcliff Inn Headwaiter), Eddie Kane (as Second Man in Brass Rail), Milton Kibbee (as Pete's Annonuncer), Charles Lane (as Reporter), Muzzy Marcellino (as Himself), Sam McDaniel (as Deacon - Waiter), Larry McGrath (First Man in Brass Rail), Johnny Murray (as Himself), Dennis O'Keefe (as Reporter), Bob Perry (as Brass Rail Manager), Donna Mae Roberts (as Radio Fan), Jean Rogers (as Radio Fan), Rosalie Roy (as Telephone Operator), Harry Seymour (as Buddy's Announcer), Eddie Shubert (as Reporter Jimmy Bull), Billy Snyder (as Second Hillbilly), Charles Sullivan (as Taxi Driver), Victoria Vinton (as Blonde Radio Fan), Billy West (as Bellboy), Dick Winslow (as Page Boy).
Ginger's Character: Peggy Cornell.
Approximately 18 Minutes and 9 Seconds (20.4% of the film).
GingerTunes: "Out For No Good", "I'll String Along With You (duet with Dick Powell at end of movie).
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 7.5 - It's gonna be hard to talk about this role and not 'contrast' with her role in 'Finishing School'... but this role is a 'solid' one, ultimately not all that different than her role in 'Sitting Pretty', albeit with one suitor rather than two. She is not overtly 'sassy' here, but IS pretty cool, in a 'good ol' girl' sense...if that MAKES any sense. She is somewhat of a 'pushover' in this one, but does stand her ground at times, such as when she finds out her man has been (supposedly) running around on her. Final analysis...I like this Ginger better...period.
Film Quality (1-10): 8.0 - solid copy from TCM... not currently available on DVD...(WB Archives, are you out there???)
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: The tale of Twenty Million Sweethearts is one of those "rise to fame - fall in love - lose love because of fame - lose fame because of lost love - regain love due to second chance (you know, the fool's name for fate) - regain fame - and ultimately live, if not happily ever after, at least reasonably so" type films that we all know and love... OK, maybe it's not THAT simple, but, it's the general storyboard...and sorry if I give away the ending, but...c'mon, y'all...you KNOW how it's gonna wrap up...
So, let's focus on how we get to that ending, shall we? We begin with a swarthy talent scout named 'Rush' Blake (Pat O'Brien), who is in San Francisco looking for singers for his radio network boss back in New York City, Chester Sharpe (Grant Mitchell).
Rush is barely afloat (well, is 'underwater' financially, as a matter of fact), and is about to give up, when he wanders into a Beer Garden (which appears to just be a saloon that also allows women to drink beer), where a young waiter gets up and wails out the 'Flying Trapeze' tune, which works pretty well in this, how you say, "Beer Garden" (which only needs pizza at this point to become a full-fledged Shakey's Pizzeria (kids, ask your parents...)).
Well, the folks just love it, which impresses Rush to the point of grabbing this young fellow Buddy Clayton (Dick Powell) and persuading him to go to NYC for a radio audition... but, Buddy points out to Rush that patrons of the beer garden will pretty much cheer on anything that is presented to them...no matter, for Rush's REAL motive is to get Buddy to pay their (read: Rush's) way back to NYC.
Well, the duo arrive in the Big Apple (was it the 'Big Apple' in the 30s? I'm asking lots of questions today, aren't I?), where they make it into the Consolidated Radio Network studios... and Rush does talk his boss Sharpe into giving Buddy an audition. It's while Buddy is waiting outside the office and wanders around where he happens upon Peggy Cornell, who is 'in studio' rehearsing a tune, Ginger - Out For No Good...well, he makes a rather bad first impression on Miss Cornell, who draws the shades on him.
Well, we HAVE to get those two kids together, right? And it happens in short order in the lunchroom/bar/commissary area, and soon Buddy walks Peggy home (that ALWAYS seems to work, y'all...) and hit it off, as expected.
Buddy has his rehearsal...but he wants to sing a typical 'crooner' tune... for some unexplained and totally asinine reason, Rush insists he sing the 'ol 'Flying Trapeze' tune... but remember, we're not in the beer garden anymore, Tito... and of course Buddy fails miserably.
Well, days pass, and Buddy and Rush are hanging on by a thread, trying to find a gig...when along comes one of the writers for the network, "Uncle" Pete (Allen Jenkins), who is also a sort of 'Depression-era radio Captain Kangaroo' (again, ask your parents...) for the station. Well, Pete has scrawled out a pretty nice tune, I'll String Along With You (a song you'll know by heart by film's end...) - he shows it to Buddy, who jumps on the keyboard and sings it very 'crooner-ly'...which catches the ear of Rush in the shower. Well, they all rig up a 'impromptu' performance during Peggy's show (she feigns fainting fairly fastidiously) - and Buddy jumps in and sings the tune.
Well, the 'twenty million sweethearts' are awakened from their dreadful slumber across the nation (and 6 stations in Canada), and Buddy becomes an overnight sensation. All is well, as Buddy plans on marrying Peggy ASAP...until Rush and the bigwigs determine it's not good to have Buddy hitched, when so many women everywhere are enthralled with him. So, Rush breaks up the nuptials by throwing a lot of slander about Buddy out there... mainly that he is hooked up with some actress chick whom Buddy's never even met... but SHE'S got the rep of 'playing the field', so the headlines are hard to discredit.
Buddy gets out of the singing game for awhile, and Peggy is in a stage play-production of some sort, and neither one is happy without the other... Rush feels bad about the deal, and works the two back together by getting Buddy to sing at some joint outside of town...Rush gets Peggy to show up, and she falls in love with Buddy all over again, and bails him out when he forgets the lyrics to the song he has song a million times - well, at least 3-4 times in the film ALONE.
And, well, that's it, y'all. some cool appearances by actual radio personalities of the day, most notably the Mills Brothers...actually, the best 'non-Ginger' tune is when Dick Powell and the Mills Brothers do 'Out for No Good' - they are a 'scat' singing band, and Powell jumps right in with them pretty well.
Overall, a good way to spend 90 minutes, although this is one of those films they could have 'trimmed' down 15 minutes or so, and probably wouldn't have lost anything.
Favorite Ginger Moments: Well, Ginger is pretty prominent throughout this one, and has quite a few areas which allow her to throw in a bit of 'sassiness' - although not TOO much - as well as some dramatic scenes... which overall makes for a pretty Gingery experience. Of course, her 'Out For No Good' number yielded umpteen 'screen caps', so I'll have to make a separate post of those in the near future... as for the 'alternate storyboard', well, hopefully Ginger will heed the saying, "Caveat Emptor" ...
"...Hey, Peg, I got this letter from some high roller dude over in Nigeria, who says he has to float a million bucks or so over here in order to get at it later...and he said he'll cut some of the dough out for whoever lets him use their bank account to 'divert' those clams... sounds like a SWEET deal! Heck, I'd just be happy with the INTEREST off of that little deal sitting in my account for six months or so... but don't tell anybody else, it's supposed to be in the strictest confidence...in fact I probably shouldn't have told you, you know, with you being a dame and all...and how y'all like to yammer on about stuff incessantly... take my mother-in-law...that woman can talk on and on and on about the most insignificant and trivial matters...why, I remember one day she was all hepped up on the fact that Rudy Vallee was going to be in Rochester for a weekend show, and she wanted ME to drive her all the way from Schenectady..You know how FAR that is? Why, I didn't even have..."
"STIFLE!!! ...Pete, you bonehead, that Nigerian thing is a scam! EVERYBODY gets that letter! It's nothing but a scheme to bilk YOU out of the few miserable bones you manage to rake in each week working at this joint!"
...just an observation - this is a pretty cool shot of Ginger and the band...
"...and I already told this dingleberry I don't want to participate in his freakish little pyramid scheme!"
"...and boom goes the dynamite, to you, my friend..."
"...now I have no distractions, so I can warble this fine little ditty..."
"...into this inordinately large microphone / periscope device..."
"...so you really think this Nigerian deal isn't on the up-and-up, eh, Peg?"
"...look, Pete, it's obvious... WHY would they be contacting a dolt like YOU to be entrusted with their million dollars?"
"...but hey, in the words of that old sooth-sayer Preston, nothing from nothing leaves nothing - so, if you feel froggy, then go for it! I'm SURE the Nigerian government will greatly reward you for your efforts..."
"...excuse me...I notice that you aren't holding your pinkie aloft whilst partaking in your heated beverage..."
"...listen, chump, if you don't get yer grubby claws offa me, I'll rip YOUR pinkie off and use it for a swizzle stick...and I don't even DRINK anything stronger than Ginger Ale!"
"... well, I'm glad you've decided to let me handle all your investment needs, Peggy...and also thanks for not ripping off any of my digits..."
"...thanks for dropping by... my esteemed associate Rush and I have been talking about some new financial opportunities in South Florida...seems like there's loads of undeveloped land down there, and a small investment could potentially return a hundredfold profit..."
"...of course, neither Rush nor I currently have any currency...that's where YOU come in... seems like YOU are the only one around here who has an inkling of work ethic, thus any legal tender... so let me summon Rush, and he'll clue you in on what we need for the investment..."
"...well, I have a few hundred dollars for y'all...how much is needed for this 'bait-and-switch' deal y'all are getting me mixed up in?"
"...er, I probably shouldn't have given him my account number...nopenopenope...not good..."
"...WHY didn't I diversify my portfolio?"
"...Peggy, I heard those dudes are heading to Miami with a wad of dough to blow on some swampland down there..."
"...well, I'll just have to trust them to do the right thing...after all, they ARE professional financial investors...just keep telling yourself that, Peg... it's the only way to keep from totally losing it and slaughtering both of them upon their return..."
"...Hello? I'm here to see the financial expert...or Buddy, if he's available..."
"...actually, it was in CENTRAL Florida...near a little town called Orlando... It seems to be some pretty solid property, baby doll... we just need to get the trees cleared and the area rid of vermin, and it'll be prime real estate..."
"...now, here's some of that lip service you've been hankerin' for, mama!"
"...yeah, he's a total rube, but he MAY have hit on a good deal for me..."
"...and who knows? Maybe we can MOVE down there... it would be a lot warmer, for sure... no Snow, White sands...just our own little Kingdom..."
"...I know it's kinda Goofy, but wouldn't it be a Cinderella story?"
"...er, I've got some bad news, Peggy..."
"...it appears the company we invested with was...well, not really a company at all...but just some dude who worked out of his step-van..."
"...and the contact number he gave us ends up being to some type of exotic alligator wrestling outfit..."
"...well, at least you kept some of my dough in reserve, like we talked about, right, Rush?"
"...er, was that YOU who wanted to do that? ...um, well...nope...that is...I pretty much shot the works with your cash, Peg..."
"...I..I can't believe this is happening...I'll have to sell my Duesenberg..."
"...So, Peggy, Rush and I have decided to go find that fellow who heinously 'diverted' your funds, and reclaim them...lest you start shooting death lasers out of those incredible eyes of yours..."
"...well, Rush, I appreciate what you and Buddy are trying to do, but I have no more money to give y'all to return to the 'scene of the crime'..."
"...so...guess y'all need to start walking, eh? It's a long way from Yonkers to Kissimmee..."
"...they're back! Well, Buddy is, anyway... It looks like he might be trying to SING something... I guess that is a fair sign... either that or he's lost the few marbles he was trying to work with..."
"...We not only got ALL your money, back, Peg, but we also made a few extra bucks parlaying a few ponies down at Hialeah Park..."
"...so, we'll just hang out here in the Big Town and stash all that bread into low-risk stocks and guaranteed bonds...I got you covered, doll..."
"...oh, yeah...Rush is staying in Florida - he said he thinks that area could still be developed into SOMETHING...maybe an amusement-type park, kinda like Coney Island or something - says that a movie studio would be a good partner to develop it with..."
"...I can see it now...Jack Warner World!"
"...Brimful of life and vitality...Miss Ginger Rogers is both intelligent and charming." - London Times
"...Miss Rogers puts an amazing amount of feeling into her interpretation. A growing sensitiveness is visible in her acting." - Los Angeles Times
"Ginger Rogers does well as Peggy...Ray Enright's direction is splendid. He reveals originality and freshness in his scenes. It is a happy picture, this Twenty Million Sweethearts." - New York Times
"Miss Rogers, who always strikes me as being one of the most engaging, natural and attractive of the cinema soubrettes, is of vast help to the proceedings, as she usually is." - New York Herald Tribune
"Dick Powell is certain to increase his present popularity through his good work in this one, and you have never seen Ginger Rogers look better or play with greater skill." - New York American
"The lapses in the story are compensated for by the pleasant vocalizations of Mr. Powell and Miss Rogers." - New York Evening Post
From GINGER: My Story: "Pat O'Brien led the billing of another Warner Brothers musical, 20 Million Sweethearts. Perennial Warner Brothers performer Dick Powell was my romantic interest. He was a young man I had met in Indianapolis, where he played a banjo in the orchestra. I thought he would make a very attractive leading man and was pleased that Warner Brothers had found him and pushed him to stardom. When this script came along, I was offered the feminine lead opposite him. I couldn't have been more thrilled, and enjoyed working in that film very much."
--- The original title of the film was "Hot Air"...really not a bad title.
--- 'Also Known As' titles from other countries: "20 Milhoes de Namorados" (Portugal); "Universo Innamorato" (Italy); "Tyve Millioner Kaerester" (Denmark).
--- Twenty Million Sweethearts is generally regarded as Warner Brother's response to 1932's "The Big Broadcast" form Paramount Pictures; oddly enough, the Mills Brothers appear in both films.
--- a 1949 remake (of sorts) by Warners was "My Dream is Yours", which starred Jack Carson and Doris Day in the leads.
--- Was playing on a TV in a scene from Carnal Knowledge (1971)...decidedly a 'post-code' film...
GingerFilm Ranking: #05 of 24. Well, the comparison to Sitting Pretty generally mandated that this one fall somewhere around that one, and honestly, Ginger is a wee bit better in this one... but it's purt near a toss-up...actually, Sitting Pretty may be a better movie overall.
After Twenty-Three Reviews:
#01 - Rafter Romance
#02 - Professional Sweetheart
#03 - 42nd Street
#04 - Flying Down to Rio
#05 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
#06 - Sitting Pretty
#07 - The Tenderfoot
#08 - The Tip-Off
#09 - Queen High
#10 - Young Man of Manhattan
#11 - You Said A Mouthful
#12 - Carnival Boat
#13 - A Shriek in the Night
#14 - The Thirteenth Guest
#15 - Don't Bet On Love
#16 - Chance at Heaven
#17 - Finishing School
#18 - Broadway Bad
#19 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#20 - The Sap From Syracuse
#21 - Suicide Fleet
#22 - Follow The Leader
#23 - Honor Among Lovers
#24 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Change Of Heart... Ginger has a different role in this one, which overall isn't a very 'uplifting' one... but we'll sort it out for ya.
Until then, as always...