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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

HOLLYWOOD CAVALCADE

Alice Faye and Alan Curtis
HOLLYWOOD CAVALCADE (1939). Director: Irving Cummings.

Michael Connors (Don Ameche) a brash wannabee director, talks new Broadway actress Molly Adair (Alice Faye) into going to Hollywood with him to have careers in silent pictures. They manage to become very successful with movie after movie. Michael thinks of himself and Molly as an unbreakable team, but the lack of romance in their lives causes Molly to do the quite sensible thing and marry her handsome co-star, Nicky Hayden (Alan Curtis of Good Girls Go to Paris). This starts Michael on a downward spiral, and eventually a tragedy results. Hollywood Cavalcade is a colorful look at the silent movie era with an attempt at a dramatic underpinning that doesn't quite come off. Alan Curtis' character is so under-developed (and comparatively unmourned) that he hardly exists, and Michael is too unlikable to be sympathetic, despite the obvious heartbreak he's undergoing. The performances are fine, with Faye [King of Burlesque] beautifully underplaying her very emotional sequences; Ameche [Guest Wife] is good if a bit less effective. Donald Meek is wonderful as a producer, and there are guest appearances by Buster Keaton. Rin Tin Tin Jr., and Al Jolson, who recreates a scene from The Jazz Singer. The other recreations of silent movies are all well done and mostly quite funny. Irving Bacon and Robert Lowery have small but well-played parts. The movie is said to be loosely inspired by the lives of Mabel Normand and Mack Sennett, who briefly appears as himself in the film.

Verdict: Glorious technicolor can't quite disguise the pic's deficits, but the film is entertaining. **1/2.
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