Classic B Musicals

The FATW “B” library contains a group of old-fashioned musical features that are all a charming remnider of a genre that has largely disappeared.  We note in passing that we also have a number of far more-elaborate, huge-budget musical television programs, which are listed in the “Golden Age of Television” section of this web site; however, they offer many challenges that are not present with the “B” movies – it if far easier to convert film negatives or prints to modern digital (DVD) formats; the exploitation “rights” for the music was perpetual and without limitation for the movies, whereas new music licenses have to be obtained for each of the television programs; there were no residual obligations to the actors for these early movies, whereas there are such obligations for the television programs.  FATW has released a number of the musical television programs, through joint ventures with Video Artists International; the “B” musicals listed in this section are either available through Mr. FAT-W Video on Amazon or through resellers, or will be available in the coming months.

CLUB HAVANA
DANCING PIRATE
DIXIE JAMBOREE
DOWN MISSOURI WAY
HEARTACHES
HOW DO YOU DO
I’M FROM ARKANSAS
THAT’S MY BABY
TROCADERO

CLUB HAVANA  (1946)

C. 5 Nov. 1945  P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP13581
B&W  62 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                  Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:                     Ray Schrock
Producer:                Leon Fromkess
Cinematog.:           Ben Kline
Composer:             Howard Jackson
Editor:                     Carl Pierson
Story:                       by Frederick Jackson
Cast:                         Tom Neal, Margaret Lindsay, Don Douglas, Isabelita, Dorothy Morris, Ernest
Truex, Donald Douglas, Gertrude Michael, Paul Cavanagh, Pedro de Cordoba,
Marc Lawrence, Renie Riano, Eric Sinclair, Sonia Sor
el

Edgar G. Ulmer-directed film about a number of different  characters “unfolding love, hate, and death problems during an evening in a fashionable Latin nitery…. Carlos Molina Orch. plus vocals by Isabelita, who sings ‘Tico Tico’ and ‘Besame Mucho,’ show up as relief. Ditto a samba dance performed by Iris and Pierre.”   (Variety, January 23, 1946) “A kind nightclub owner comes to the aid of an employee who is despondent over a failed romance.  The musical is a cheap reproduction of Grand Hotel.”   Corel All Movie Guide 2

Review, IMDB:   “This movie is very hard to find, even if it is an Ulmer’s one. Produced by PRC company and starring Tom Neal, we can consider it as a sort of poor man’s Grand Hotel, that takes place in Havana, of course. The topic is not very interesting, a mystery mixed with romance and musical. Only the climax is really not bad. But I was very glad that the running time was only 63 minutes. That’s not the best Ulmer movie ever. Far from that. But if you are a great PRC films fan, try it anyway. Or for the warm Caribbean nights atmosphere. You can also hear, in this movie, some well known songs. A cheap movie. And a rare one. Nothing more.”

DANCING PIRATE  (1936)
C. 22 May 1936  Pioneer Pictures  LP6422

Color 87 Mins.  PD (but copyrighted music is good copyright, and there is an exclusive synchronization license to FATW for the music) In addition, IMDb notes that “Although the U.S. copyright to this film was not renewed, it is a derivative work from the 1930 novella “Glorious Buccaneer”, whose U.S. copyright was renewed and does not expire until 2025.”

Director:                 Lloyd Corrigan
Writers:                   Francis Edwards Faragoh, Ray S. Harris, Boris Ingster, Jack Wagner
Producer:               John Speaks
Cinematog.:          William Skall
Art Directors:       Wiard Ihnen, William Ihnen
Music Dir.:             Alfred Newman
Editor:                     Archie Marshek
Choreography:   Russell Lewis
Story:                       Emma-Lindsay Squier
Cast:                          Frank Morgan, Charles Collins, Luis Alberni, Cyrus Q. Kendall, Victor Varconi,
Jack La Rue, Steffi Duna, Eduardo Cansino, Nora Cecil, James Farley, Mitchell
Lewis, Vera Lewis, Ellen Lowe, William V. Mong, Julian Rivero, Max Wagner,
Harold Waldridge
Songs:
“When You’re Dancing the Waltz”
by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Performed by Charles Collins, Steffi Duna and chorus

“Are you My Love?”
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Performed by Steffi Duna

This picture, the first full-length Technicolor musical,  “has exploitation possibilities despite the fact it went haywire.  Save for potentialities that Charles Collins suggests, Pioneer’s [Pioneer Pictures, the John Hay Whitney-backed studio which produced “Becky Sharp,” the first full-length Technicolor movie] ‘Pirate’ is too comic operetta to qualify as 1936 film fare.  Forepart is almost acceptable as Collins is shanghaied for a  piratical cruise around the Horn from Boston to Lower  California, but after he enlists the lassoing honest injuns to best the brigand Spaniards it’s a bit too much…. ‘Dancing Pirate’ is an old-time Shuberty musical comedy label and the story matches the tab…. On technic, the color pars Pioneer’s last attempt at 100% Technicolor in ‘Becky Sharp’ – the patterns were achieved at the expense of natural expressions…. Two  Rodgers and Hart songs are more or less incidental,  titled ‘When You’re Dancing the Waltz’ and ‘Are You My  Love?’ of which the former is the more prominent and the most likely.  Russell Lewis’ dancers are in the Spanish motif, with the usual musical comedy liberties for free ‘n’ easy introductions, such as when Collins gets a respite from the jail and the courtyard is suddenly filled with terping fandangoists in a cape routine or  Collins’ tap dancing on the scaffold with a noose ’round his neck.  Alfred Newman’s usually brilliant orchestrating is given fuller and colorful scope with the characteristic score.”  (Variety, June 24, 1936) “This romantic adventure is most notable for its early use of Technicolor.  The film tells the story of a Boston dance teacher who is hijacked by pirates and taken towards the Caribbean.  En route the dancer jumps ship and lands in Mexico.  There he begins a romance with the mayor’s daughter.  Included in the film are songs by Rodgers and Hart.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

Academy Award Nomination: Best Dance Direction, for Russell Lewis

NOTE: The Technicolor process that was used for this movie, was a “three strip” process – in substance, there were three integrated cameras, each using a different primary color film; when mated up in a very complicated printing process, they produced the rich colors that only Technicolor had.  However, it was an expensive process; in the search for less expensive ways to make color movies, the “Cinecolor” process was developed.  It is easy to tell the difference between a Cinecolor movie and a Technicolor movie; the former’s colors are slightly off – there is a kind of brownish tone to the movie.  Some genius discovered that by printing only two of the three color strips of an actual Technicolor movie, a kind of artificial Cinecolor could be printed, at far less cost than a full-blown Technicolor print.  This was done when FATW’s DANCING PIRATE and its companion movie, BECKY SHARP, the world’s first Technicolor feature, were re-released in the 1940s.  Unfortunately, the un-needed third strip was either lost or destroyed – it may be buried in the Cinecolor vaults, which are now owned by Technicolor, but we have never been able to get anybody at Technicolor to bother looking for them.  FATW has complete 35MM and 16MM negatives of the remaining two strips, and can easily generate a “Cinecolor” digital master for DANCING PIRATE, but it would really be a conservation crime to do so.  Instead, we hope to one day find a Technicolor 35MM print for it, so that the third strip can be re-created, as was done by the UCLA Film and Television Archive for BECKY SHARP, which can be seen in its original glorious Technicolor (with the permission of FATW, since our two strips were crucial to the restoration process).

NOTE: The dance troupe that plays the part of “Mexican” villagers, is The Royal Cansino Dancers (IMDb credit).  Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino.  “Hayworth was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1918 as Margarita Carmen Cansino, the oldest child of two dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino, Sr., was from Castilleja de la Cuesta, a little town near Seville, Spain. Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish-English descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies.The Catholic couple had married in 1917. They also had two sons: Eduardo Jr. and Vernon Cansino. Margarita’s father wanted her to become a professional dancer, while her mother hoped she would become an actress. Her paternal grandfather Antonio Cansino was renowned as a Spanish classical dancer; he popularized the bolero and his dancing school in Madrid was world famous. Rita later recalled, “From the time I was three and a half… as soon as I could stand on my own feet, I was given dance lessons.”She noted “I didn’t like it very much… but I didn’t have the courage to tell my father, so I began taking the lessons. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, that was my girlhood”.She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex, where she was taught by her uncle Angel Cansino. She performed publicly from the age of six. In 1926 at the age of eight, she was featured in La Fiesta, a short film for Warner Bros. In 1927, her father took the family to Hollywood. He believed that dancing could be featured in the movies and that his family could be part of it. He established his own dance studio, where he taught such Hollywood luminaries as James Cagney and Jean Harlow. During the Great Depression, he lost all his investments, as musicals were no longer in vogue and commercial interest in his dancing classes waned. He partnered with his daughter to form “The Dancing Cansinos”. Since under California law, Margarita was too young to work in nightclubs and bars, her father took her with him to work across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. In the early 1930s, it was a popular tourist spot for people from Los Angeles. Due to her working, Cansino never graduated from high school; she completed ninth grade at Hamilton High in Los Angeles. At the age of 16, Cansino took a bit part in the film Cruz Diablo (1934), which led to another in In Caliente (1935) with the Mexican actress Dolores del Río. Cansino danced with her father in such nightspots as the Foreign and the Caliente clubs. Winfield Sheehan, the head of the Fox Film Corporation, saw her dancing at the Caliente Club and quickly arranged for Hayworth to do a screen test a week later. Impressed by her screen persona, Sheehan signed her for a short-term six-month contract at Fox, under the name Rita Cansino, the first of name changes for her film career…. During her time at Fox, Cansino appeared in five pictures, in non-notable roles. By the end of her six-month contract, Fox had merged into 20th Century Fox, with Darryl F. Zanuck serving as the executive producer. Dismissing Sheehan’s interest in Cansino, Zanuck did not renew her contract. Feeling that Cansino had screen potential, the salesman and promoter Edward C. Judson, whom she would marry in 1936, got her the lead roles in several independent films and arranged a screen test with Columbia Pictures. The studio head Harry Cohn signed Cansino to a long-term contract, and cast her in small roles in Columbia features. Often cast as the exotic foreigner, Cansino appeared in several roles in 1935: in Dante’s Inferno, with Spencer Tracy; and Paddy O’Day, in which she played a Russian dancer. She was an Argentinian in Under the Pampas Moon and an Egyptian beauty in Charlie Chan in Egypt. In 1936 she took her first starring role as a “Latin type” in Human Cargo. Cohn argued that Cansino’s image was too Mediterranean, which reduced her opportunities to being cast in “exotic” roles, more limited in number. With Cohn and Judson’s encouragement, Hayworth changed her hair color to dark red and her name to Rita Hayworth. She had electrolysis to raise her hairline and broaden the appearance of her forehead. By using her mother’s maiden name, she led people to see her British-American ancestry and became a classic “American” pin-up.”  Wikipedia We think that she had an uncredited appearance in DANCING PIRATE as a dancer in her father’s dance troupe – during the first big dance scene, in which the costumed “Mexican peasants” perform an elaborate dance-nunber, the very first female dancer who dances directly at the camera, is a tall, chubby-faced dark-haired girl with beautiful cheekbones.  We think that is Rita Cansino/Hayworth; but you’ll have to make up your own mind if you ever see the movie!

DIXIE JAMBOREE  (1944)

C. 15 Aug. 1945  PRC Pictures, Inc.  LP13618
B&W  72 Mins.  PD

Director:             William Christy Cabanne
Writer:                 Sam Neuman
Producer:           Jack Schwartz
Cinematog.:      Jack MacKenzie
Art Dir.:               Paul Palmentola, Paul F. Sylos
Editor:                  Robert Crandall
Cast:                    Frances Langford, Guy Kibbee, Eddie Quillan, Frank Jenks, Charles Butterworth,
Fifi D’Orsay, Lyle Talbot, Louise Beavers, Ben Carter, Angel Cruz, Joe Devlin, Almira
Sessions, Anthony Warde
Songs:
“You Ain’t Right with the Lord”
Written by Michael Breen and Sam Neuman (lyrics)
Sung by chorus

“The Dixie Showboat”
Written by Michael Breen and Sam Neuman (lyrics)
Sung by Frances Langford

“If It’s a Dream”
Written by Michael Breen and Sam Neuman (lyrics)
Sung by Frances Langford

“No, No, No!”
Written by Michael Breen and Sam Neuman (lyrics)
Sung by Fifi d’Orsay

“Big Stuff”
Written by Michael Breen and Sam Neuman (lyrics)
Sung by Frances Langford

“If It’s a Dream”
                                   Written by Michael Breen and Sam Neuman (lyrics)
Sung by Frances Langford, with trumpet solo by Eddie Quillan

Musical comedy that takes place aboard a Mississippi River showboat.  “Other than a couple of songs enhanced by the way Frances Langford puts ’em over, there isn’t much to recommend ‘Dixie Jamboree.’….There is one sequence, however, for those wide awake enough to notice, which is a rare specimen in movies.  It permits Lyle Talbot and Frank Jenks (two gangsters on the lam) to ridicule a couple of acts put on by the showboat crew.  Many a worse musical number on the screen has been given willy-nilly approbation as a doting camera carefully picks out nodding heads and smiling faces on the sidelines….Plot is mostly about the two mobsters who plan to take over Capt. Jackson’s boat and contents after they’ve discovered that the Cap’s new batch of patent medicine was unwittingly mixed with liquor instead of aqua. Story idea isn’t bad…” (New York  Daily News, January 1, 1945)

“A Mississippi showboat provides the setting for this adventurous musical comedy.  It tells the tale of the last showboat upon the Big Muddy.  Aboard is a wacky selection of characters.  Much of the story centers around a medicine man who is mistaken for a bootlegger by two former convicts.  They attempt to steal his potent elixir.  Songs include: “Dixie Showboat,” “No, No, No,” “If It’s a Dream,” “You Ain’t Right With the Lord,” and “Big Stuff.” “Corel All Movie Guide 2

DOWN MISSOURI WAY  (1946)

C. 1 Aug. 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP455
B&W  75 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                 Josef Berne
Writer:                     Sam Neuman
Producer:               Josef Berne
Cinematog.:          Vincent J. Farrar
Art Director:         Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:             Karl Hajos
Music, Lyrics:       Kim Gannon, Walter Kent
Composer:             Karl Hajos
Editor:                     Donn W. Hayes
Set Decor.:            Glenn Thompson
Cast:                         John Carradine, Martha O’Driscoll, William Wright, Eddie Dean, Chester Clute,
Renee Godfrey, Earle Hodgins, Paul Scardon, Mabel Todd, Will Wright, William
Wright
Songs:
“Old Missouri Hayride”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent
Sung by Eddie Dean

“There’s a Rose That Grows in the Ozarks”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

“Big Town Gal”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

“Monkey Business”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

“Never Knew That I Could Sing”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

“I’m So In Love With You”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

“Just Can’t Get That Guy”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

“If Something Don’t Happen Soon”
Written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

Musical hillbilly opus starring John Carradine, Martha  O’Driscoll, and Eddie Dean is “out of the rut of the motheaten oatrunner formula and in the groove with an upbeat musical score, a zany laugh-getting script and a good cast… one of PRC’s [Producers Releasing Corp.] best offerings to date. It’s a hillbilly mule opera with a tongue-in-cheek treatment… A total of eight numbers, all highly listenable and several of sock  quality…. Cast is topped by John Carradine who’s taken off the leash in his role of a Hollywood director and given plenty of space in which to deliberately ham up the screen…. Story is some frothy nonsense concerning the attempt to find a hep mule for a motion picture role in a hillbilly operetta.  Madcap angle is played up in the fact that the animal is matriculating as an  experimental student in an agricultural college.”   (Variety, August 14, 1946)

“In this comedy, a Hollywood director journeys to the Ozarks in search of the perfect mule for his upcoming hillbilly movie.  He finds one.  Unfortunately, it is being used for experiments at a farming school.”  Corel All Movie Guide 2

IMDb Review:    “Probably the best John Carradine musical ever! That doesn’t mean this
isn’t a terrible movie, though. Carradine gives a (deliberately) hammy performance as a film director trying to make a hillbilly movie in the Ozarks. (He seems to be doing a spot-on imitation of his mentor/idol, John Barrymore.) Just about everything else in this mess is done poorly, though there are a couple of songs that are tolerable (at least, the first time they’re sung–the best of them is repeated about four times). The people you’ve heard of, such as Martha O’Driscoll, make you wonder how they ever got careers. The others make you wonder why they even got this chance! There’s a mule that’s supposed to be quite talented, but I missed any glimpses of any special ability. There’s a moment of Carradine singing during a hayride, and it’s interesting, though mainly for the forced enjoyment on the old boy’s face. This one is barely tolerable for the avid Carradine fanatic, others should do themselves a favor and have jaw surgery instead.”

HEARTACHES  (1947)

C. 27 May 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1136
B&W  71 Mins.  PD

Director:                  Basil Wrangell
Writer:                      George Bricker
Producers:              Marvin D. Stahl, Benjamin Stoloff
Cinematog.:            John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Art Director:           Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:               Irving Freedman
Music, Lyrics:         Kim Gannon, Al Hoffman, Walter Kent, John Klenner
Editor:                       Charles Gross
Cast:                            Lash LaRue, Sheila Ryan, Edward Morris, Chili Wills/Williams, Ken Farrell,
Charles Mitchell, Frank Orth, Phyllis Planchard, James Seay, Ann Staunton.
Song:
“Heartaches”
Composed by Al Hoffman and John Klenner

“Carrying a top revival tune as its title, ‘Heartaches’ is a moderately entertaining whodunit, with songs, that emerges as suitable fare to round out double bills….  With the story’s locale centered about Hollywood, yarn deals with the career of a film crooner, portrayed by Ken Farrell.  He’s okay with looks, but his ‘voice’ is actually that of Chill Wills, whose piping is dubbed on the sound track. Of course, studio execs make every  attempt to prevent a leak that Wills croons for Farrell.   Complicating matters are a number of mailed threats on  Farrell’s life.  Cops, as well as reporter Edward  Norris, are inclined to discount them as publicity gags,  but are convinced when a radio agent is rubbed out, followed by the shooting of the crooner’s own rep, Frank  Orth. Culprit is eventually rounded up and Norris wins Farrell’s femme flack, Sheila Ryan.  Sandwiched in the footage are several songs, including the oldie ‘Heartaches’ plus a trio of new ones by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent.  Best of these is ‘Can’t Get That Gal.’ ” (Variety, July 2, 1947)

“In this mystery, a reporter looks into two killings and winds up implicating a popular singing movie star.  When it comes out that the singer’s voice is dubbed in by another, a career is almost destroyed.  Things are rectified when the reporter finds the killer.”   Corel All Movie Guide 2

IMDb Review:    “I comment it before it erases from my memory. A typically little mystery
yarn as American film industry made by dozens between 30’s and 40’s. Short, yes, but also talkative and with boring moments; such singing sequences – three or four times – to fill up the film length. As for B westerns, when you saw the horse galoping all over the plains with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry riding it, six minutes long – not straight, of course, so that the feature may reach the 55 minutes. Or the sequences where you saw guys opening and shutting doors – not in a row, as you may guess – at least twenty times in the movie. If you add, it made three or four minutes. I tried the count once !! So, this little crime flick takes place in a cinema studio, where the lead, a singer, has his life threaten by a mysterious killer. That’s all I can say about it. Nothing else. A manufactured product useless to comment any further.”

HOW DOOO YOU DO!!! (a/k/a HOW DO YOU DOOO?  (1945)

C. 7 Jan. 1946 P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP15
B&W  80 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                 Ralph Murphy
Writers:                   Joseph Carole, Harry Sauber, Paul Webster
Producer:               Harry Sauber
Cinematog.:          Ben Kline
Art Director:         Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:             Howard Jackson
Music, Lyrics:       Hal Borne, Paul Webster
Composers:            Hal Borne, Paul Webster
Editor:                     Thomas Neff
Story:                       Harry Sauber
Cast:                          Bert I. Gordon, Harry Von Zell, Cheryl Walker, Frank Albertson, Claire Windsor,
Keye Luke, Ella Mae Morse, James Burke, Leslie Dinison, Thomas Jackson, Fred
Kelsey, Sid Marion, Matt McHugh, Charles Middleton, Claire Windsor
Songs:
“Boogie Woogie Cindy”
Written by Hal Borne and Paul Francis Webster
Sung by Ella Mae Morse

“I’ve Got a 12-Hour Pass”
Written by Hal Borne and Paul Francis Webster

Musical comedy ” story concerns cast of a radio show who travel incognito to a desert resort.  During their first night a hated radio agent is murdered by someone supposedly in show biz…. Turns out that ‘victim’ was under drug administered in experiment by his doctor… In its own pedestrian manner, serves to further point up a couple of personalities who might develop into fair screen draws.” (Variety, May 22, 1946)  Stars Bert  Gordon, radio comedian, Harry Von Zell, long-time announcer for George Burns and Gracie Allen T.V. show,  singer Ella Mae Morse, etc.  Some songs.

IMDb Review:    “Bert Gordon (the mad Russian) and Harry Von Zell retreat from their
radio show to the mountains in order to hide out from the crazy women in their lives. At the hotel the men find the women are there. Unable to get a bus home they spend the night only to find a murder has happened. The sheriff refuses to let anyone leave until the crime is solved. Gordon manages to get word to his actor friends-all having played detectives- and asks them to come up and solve the crime…Slow rambling and way too long film thrashes about being neither mysterious nor funny. It just sort of lies there. Its a shame because the cast is to die for……then again its clear that any mind that made Gordon and Von Zell the stars of a film probably wouldn’t know a good script if it bit them on the bum. Frankly I feel like the studio executive in the final scene before the genuinely funny black out gag…this film shouldn’t have been released. A major disappointment.”

THAT’S MY BABY  (1944)

C. 1 Sept. 1944  Republic Pictures Corp.  LP12829
B&W  67 Mins.  PD

Director:                 Lester William Berke
Writers:                  Nicholas Barrows, William Tunberg
Producer:              Walter Colmes
Cinematog.:          Robert Pittack
Art Director:         Frank Dexter
Music Dir.:             Jay Chernis
Editor:                     Robert Jahns
Story:                       Irving Wallace
Cast:                         Richard Arlen, Ellen Drew, Richard Bailey, Billy Benedict, Alex Callam, Jack
Chefe, Fred Fisher, Isabelita, Pat Kelly, Leonid Kinskey, Adia Kuznetzkoff, Lyle
Latell, Marjorie Manners, Frank Mitchell, Minor Watson
Songs:
“Song of the Tachanka”
Music by Konstantin Listov

“Razza Ma Tazz”
Written by Freddie Fisher

“Isabelita”
Written by Isabelita Castro

“Crying”

“Ti qui ta”

“Rock-a-bye Baby”
Traditional

“Better than average” musical starring Richard Arlen and Ellen Drew. They’re faced with the problem of pulling her dad out of a severe psychiatric depression. “Among the specialties are the Freddie Fisher and Mike Riley Bands; Gene Rogers, Negro boogie-woogie pianist, Isabelita, and the Guadaliara Boys. All are seen briefly, with good results.”  (Variety, October 25,  1945)

“This interesting film offers a blend of animation, live-action, comedy, drama and music.  The story centers on an engaged couple who try to help the bride-to-be’s depressed father find happiness again.  Dave Fleischer (“Popeye’s” animator) provides the animation.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

IMDb Review:    “The DVD I watched is from an American rights company called Alpha
DVD. Increasingly their output is delight and dismay because so many of the attractive films in their catalog seem to be created from DVD copying a TV print videotape directly off a computer monitor or television screen. THAT’S MY BABY looks like this as it has some weird patterned sheen over the whole image… like bathroom glass. This imperfection in the presentation detracts from what is a major musical find for anyone interested in Republic films of th 40s… and for you out there who love vaudeville zaniness will rush to find a copy. This would have been an A grade film from Republic with excellent art direction set design and a beautiful music score. Then there is the hilarious and energetic roster of auditioning stars and their orchestras… with added throw in and away guest appearances by everyone else possible. There is even break dancing from tap maestro ‘Pigmeat” Markham. Some terrible TV edits rob us of some wild, barely seen adagio gymnastics, but one dance duo who I can’t identify are jawdropping to briefly see: he is a massive lug in a cartoon dinner-suit, like a football forward in a tux and she is absolutely tiny in an even tinier miniskirt; they proceed to slide-jive and hop about like the Big Bad Wolf and Lambchop! The number is brief and made even shorter by cutaways for dialog… maybe it was risqué.. but what we so briefly see is live cartoon craziness perfected. Later in this very concise 68 minute musical is a wondrous sequence by Dave Fleischer creating a cartoon, mostly in a fascinating montage that delivers the hilarity needed for the fade-out. A great DVD print release of this thoroughly enjoyable mini musical is much deserved. It is alternately silly and spectacular… and the musical numbers, each and every one worth the cost of the DVD alone. The boogie woogie scene in the restaurant needs to be repeated 200 times just so you believe you actually saw it. It is a movie about a cartoon; and so is a musical with cartoon sensibilities… if that is possible…. well it is and it is called THAT’S MY BABY, Republic Pictures 1944. Whata hoot this would have been to see with a huge crowd. The Hilarious and droll Al Mardo and his (useless) dog were a staple of 50s television; Lead acress Ellen Drew is breathtaking, she is very much like Hedy Lamarr; her measured dialogue delivery is particularly appealing. Yep, all this in 68 minutes.”

NOTE: This review perfectly illustrates the difference in quality between first-class digital masters made from original film and negative materials, as FATW’s are, and multi-generational poor copies made from second-rate materials – often an obsolete VHS cassette!

TROCADERO  (1944)

C. 29 February 1944 Republic Pictures Corp. LP12544
B&W  74 Mins.  PD

Director:                   William Nigh
Producer:                 Walter Colmes
Cinematog.:            Jackson J. Rose
Music Dir.;               Jay Chernis
Composer:               Jay Chernis
Editor:                       Robert Crandall
Story:                        Charles F. Chaplin, Garrett Holmes
Cast:                           Rosemary Lane, Sheldon Leonard, Ralph Morgan, Johnny “Scat” Downs, Charles
Calvert, Dave Fleischer, Ruth Hilliard, Ida James, Erskine Johnson, Marjorie
Manners, Cliff Nazarro, Dick Purcell, Dewey Robinson, the Starbusters, Emmett
Vogan
Songs:
“Trocadero”
Played over the opening titles
Played by four orchestras in the finale

“Roundabout Way”
Written by Sidney Clare and Lew Porter
Performed by Cliff Nazarro
Later performed by the Stardusters with Gus Arnheim and his orchestra

“Bullfrog Jump”
Written by Lew Porter
Performed by Rosemary Lane and Bob Chester and His Orchestra

“How Could You Do That To Me”
Written by Lew Porter
Performed by Rosemary Lane and Johnny Downs

“Louisiana Lulu”
Written by Teepee Mitchell and Lew Porter
Performed by Rosemary Lane and Matty Malneck and his orchestra

“The Music Goes Round and Round”
Performed by Wingy Manone and His Orchestra

“Trying to Forget”
Written by Tony Romano
Performed by Rosemary Lane

“The King Was Doing the Rhumba”
Written by Lew Porter

“Shoo Shoo Baby”
Written by Phil Moore
Performed by Ida James with Bob Chester and His Orchestra

“A story of a Hollywood nitery, ‘Trocadero’ is a mildly entertaining musical with a potpourri of talent that should make it right for the duals. Story has two adopted children, played by Johnny Downs and Rosemary Lane, being left a night club at the end of Prohibition by their foster-father. Pickings are lean until they hire a swing band that skyrockets the club to fame.  Separate romances of both children make for the love interest.  Eight new songs are introduced in addition to two revivals, none of them outstanding. Following the vogue of having ‘name’ bands, picture has Eddie LeBaron (actual owner of the Troc), Bob Chester, Marty Malneck and Gus Arnheim. Wingy Mannone is in for one bit doing a musical and vocal rendition of “the Music Goes Round and Round,’ Ida James warbles ‘Shoo Shoo Baby,’ and the Stardusters do one number. Club background is also used to drag in the Radio Rogues with their imitations, Cliff Nazarro singing and making with the double-talk, and cartoonist Dave Fleischer doing some drawing. Rosemary Lane, looking very well, is convincing in the emotional scenes, and does several songs in good style, while Johnny Downs does a hoofing routine and acts with assurance. Rest of the cast do satisfactorily.” (Variety, April 26, 1944)

“In this musical, two young people inherit their father’s nightclub.  The joint teeters on the brink of bankruptcy until they bring in exciting jazz music and entertaining acts ranging from comedy to cartoonists.  Songs include: “Shoo-Shoo Baby” (Phil Moore), “The Music Goes ‘Round and Around” (Red Hodgson, Ed Farley, Mike Riley), “Roundabout Way” (Sidney Clare, Lew Porter), “Bullfrog Jump,” “How Could You Do That Too Me” (Porter), “The King Was Doing the Rhumba” (Jay Chernis, Porter), “Trying to Forget” (Tony Romano), and “Can’t Take the Place of You” (Walter Colmes, Porter).” Corel All Movie Guide 2

IMDb Review:    “Delightful Music and Rosemary Lane, A Cheapy, but Goody  The plot of
the history of a nightclub is the excuse to present a bunch of musical numbers. The music is really nice. If you’re a fan of the Big Bands of the 30’s and 40’s and/or swing, you’ll enjoy it.
A couple of the unique perks are wonderful brief appearances by Dave Fleischer and Ida James. Dave, along with brother Max, did the classic Betty Boop, Koko the Clown, and Popeye cartoons. Here he draws a cute little cartoon character named Skimpy who becomes animated. Ida James is a beautiful and terrific black singer/actress from the period who sings her hit song “Shoo, Shoo, Baby.” Another perk is the appearance of the incomparable Sheldon Leonard. He is the ultimate Brooklyn gangster. Here, he is gentle as lamb. He continued acting regularly for another 40 years after this, but is best known, perhaps, for producing a series of hit television shows in the 1950’s and 1960’s, including “The Danny Thomas Show,” The Andy Griffith Show,” and “I Spy”. The main attraction of the movie for me is Rosemary Lane. I’ve seen her in a couple of movies where she was good, but overshadowed by her bundle of energy sister, Priscilla Lane. Here, she is the main attraction, and she handles her role as one of the nightclub owners with charm, cool and intelligence. She looks great in the stylish dresses and sings delightfully. This was sadly her penultimate movie out of about 20 that she made in a short 10 year acting career. I knew her sisters Priscilla and Lola could carry a movie, but this showed me that Rosemary was able to carry one on her own. There is one interesting scene that she plays in complete profile. I’ve never seen an actress do that. At first, I thought it was a mistake, because you can’t really see her reaction, but at the end of the scene she turns so that we can she her full face. It is quite effective. It was probably the director’s decision, but only a very confident actress would have played the scene as well as she did. Anyways, if you are a 30’s/40’s music fan or a Lane sister fan, this is a fun ride.”