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

Thursday, August 23, 2018


George Murphy and Ginny Simms
BROADWAY RHYTHM (1944). Director: Roy Del Ruth.

John Demming (George Murphy) is a Broadway producer and dancer who is planning a new show and hoping to get film star Helen Hoyt (Ginny Simms) for the lead. For her part, Helen thinks John's script is too "arty" and she can't afford a flop, but she is importuned by John's father Sam (Charles Winninger), to appear in his production, a show about the illustrious Demming family itself. John's sister, Patsy, (Gloria DeHaven) also gets into the act. Broadway Rhythm is a sort of oddity, a backstage musical with a creaky "let's put-on-a-show" plot that is filmed in startling Technicolor. The songs feature the work of a number of composers, but except for a couple of old standards, they are mostly forgettable. The film's musical highlights include Lena Horne (playing a character instead of herself but getting little dialogue) singing "Somebody Loves Me," and Charles Winninger and Tommy Dorsey teaming for "I Love Corny Music." Murphy [No Questions Asked] is smooth and pleasant, as is Simms [Night and Day] in one of her infrequent film appearances; DeHaven is also notable. Charles Winninger [Destry Rides Again] is as winning as ever, and whether singing or clowning Nancy Walker is delightfully deadpan throughout. Others in the cast include perky singer Kenny Bowers; Eddie "Rochester" Anderson; the excellent dancer Walter B. Long (his only film appearance); Sara Haden (in an unbilled bit as a school headmistress); and Ben Blue as Felix. Dean Murphy certainly makes an "impression" as a farmhand who is also an expert impressionist, imitating everyone from Mortimer Snerd to Jimmy Stewart to Cary Grant to (hilariously) Bette Davis! The Ross Sisters do an awful number called "Potato Salad," but they are certainly skilled contortionists if nothing else. Tommy Dorsey proves as personable as rival band leader Kay Kyser in this.

Verdict: Oddball but entertaining musical. **1/2. 


angelman66 said...

Once upon a time I actually interviewed Senator George Murphy near the end of his life in the early 1990s. What a lovely, sweet and dear man. You can imagine how excited I was to meet a man who had danced with both Judy Garland and with Shirley Temple back in the golden days of Hollywood!

William said...

Wow! That's some achievement! It's odd how I got such little exposure to Murphy when I was a kid, possibly because his movies were never on "Million Dollar Movie" or whatever Late Shows I'd watch. I knew him much more as a politician. That must have been quite an interesting interview. Glad to hear that he was a sweetheart in real life. He comes off as quite likable in "reel" life as well.