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

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Just a guppie: Jessie Matthews
EVERGREEN (1934). Director: Victor Saville.

Music hall star Harriet Green (Jessie Matthews) has fallen in love and decided to retire. Her sycophants tell her that she is ageless and will remain "evergreen." Then someone gives her distressing news and she runs off all of a sudden. Decades later, Harriet's lookalike daughter, also named Harriet, shows up in London, and winds up masquerading as her own "ageless" (and deceased) mother. She herself becomes a music hall star, but how long can the deception last? Aside from one lovely tune, 'Springtime in Your Heart" -- which I believe is by Roger Woods and not Rodgers and Hart, who contributed one or two minor ditties -- this is a decidedly poor British musical starring the "talents" of the fish-faced Jessie Matthews whose singing is a trial for the ears -- Betty Boop, anyone? At least when her friend Maudie (Betty Balfour) does a horrendously bad version of an aria from Rigoletto, it is meant to be funny. At one point young Harriet's singing boyfriend Tommy Thompson (Barry MacKay) pretends to be the older Harriet's son, and the two put on a romantic (!) act together, which is gross in of itself. The final production number is okay, there is a weird "futuristic" bit with descending tubes transforming dancers into space-types, but for the most part these numbers are bad imitations of MGM musicals. Matthews later played the mother of Tom Thumb. Matthews has her fans; I am not among them.

Verdict: Stupid, with mostly uninteresting players, and just one good song. **.  

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