Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


ON THE AVENUE (1937). Directed by Roy Del Ruth.

A charming and genuinely amusing musical with some pleasant (if unspectacular) Irving Berlin songs. Gary Blake (Dick Powell) is the star of a hit Broadway revue, and his co-star, Mona Merrick (Alice Faye), seems a bit smitten with him. In one of the show’s most popular sketches, Mona plays a well-known heiress, Mimi Carraway (Madeleine Carroll), and Blake is her very stuffy father, the Commodore (George Barbier). Father and daughter Carraway are outraged by the sketch and Mimi contacts Gary in an attempt to gain revenge. The two wind up falling in love with each other, naturally, and Blake agrees to make the sketch less offensive. However, a jealous Mona decides she’s not going to take all the juice out of the sketch, and ... well, let’s just say it leads to the funniest sequence in the movie. All three leads and the supporting cast are in top form. Especially notable is Cora Witherspoon as Mimi’s free-spirited aunt, who thinks the aforementioned sketch is hilarious and seems to be the only person in the family with a sense of humor. The Ritz Brothers do some funny routines but one of them goes on forever and nearly stops the picture dead. Otherwise, this fast-moving musical comedy is a pip.
Verdict: Lots of fun. ***.

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