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

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Cagney and Evelyn Daw
SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT (1937). Director: Victor Schertzinger.

"A Japanese who speaks better English than I do, with a weakness for wiener schnitzel. It's too much for me in my weakened condition." -- Terry. 

Terry Rooney (James Cagney) is a popular musical theater man who is tapped to go to Hollywood to make his first picture. Planning to send for his singing sweetheart, Rita (Evelyn Daw), he goes to the studio and meets publicity man Hank Meyers (William Frawley) and studio chief B. O. Regan (Gene Lockhart of A Scandal in Paris), as well as major star Stephanie Hajos (Mona Barrie of The Devil's Mask). After a blow out on the set, Terry walks out and marries Rita, only to discover his first film is a big hit and he's a big star himself. The only trouble is that his marriage must be kept secret ... Cagney is, as expected, swell in the picture, as are most of his supporting players, including Dwight Frye as a hairdresser and Philip Ahn, as his butler, Ito. There's an excellent scene when Ahn reveals that he speaks English perfectly (although in real life he was Korean-American and not Japanese). As for leading lady Daw, it's easy to see why she appeared in only one other movie. Despite a heavy chin, Daw was cute, and not unappealing in an amateurish way, but she has one of the the worst soprano voices I've ever heard -- shrill, nasal, and altogether awful (if not quite as bad as Florence Foster Jenkins). Director Schertzinger's discovery, she retired to get married not a moment too soon. Something to Sing About has some nice tunes, including the title number, Cagney does a lovely soft shoe routine with two professional dancers, and of course is given a chance to belt guys around to prove his "manhood." A shipboard sequence features an actual "cat fight" with two real cats boxing one another (!) and a sailor in drag is tossed over the railing!

Verdict: Frothy, mindless, and reasonably entertaining. **1/2.

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