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

Thursday, August 9, 2018


Kay Kyser and Marilyn Maxwell
 SWING FEVER (1943). Director: Tim Whelan.

Lowell Blackford (Kay Kyser of Carolina Blues) is a classical composer who hopes to interest someone in his music. He is befriended by band singer Ginger Gray (Marilyn Maxwell of Summer Holiday), but he misinterprets her interest in him. Ginger has a boyfriend named "Waltzy" Malone (William Gargan), who is interested in the boxing racket. When Malone learns that Lowell can fix people with an "evil eye" and literally knock them out, he wants him to use his power on his boxer's opponent. But then his opponent's crew kidnap him ... Kyser had already done several movies before this, but this was the first and only time he was playing a character and not himself. True, he doesn't come off much different than before, but his performance is more than competent and he is, as usual, appealing in his nerdy way. Musicians such as Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey, who have cameos in this film, may be better remembered today, but Kyser was the only popular band leader who became a nominal movie star. As for Swing Fever, you can tell that any movie with this plot is probably not going to be very good, and that is sadly the case with this picture, although the other performances are okay and there are some pleasant song numbers. Maxwell warbles "Undecided" but she's outshone by the three young people who shake and shimmy to the music afterward. Weird comic Ish Kabibble, who frequently appeared with Kyser, appears briefly and his routines are unfunny, to put it mildly. Others in the film include Lena Horne, Morris Ankrum, Pamela Blake, singer Harry Babbitt, and the amusing Curt Bois [That Night in Rio], who plays Malone's partner.

Verdict: Kyser is likable but the picture is no knock-out. **. 


angelman66 said...

Was not aware that Kay Kyser acted--I knew he was a bandleader and that his band had appeared in several films, but did not know that he played roles other than himself.

William said...

Only once, in this picture. Other than that he was Kyser all the way, for better or worse, LOL! He was no Danny Kaye, but he wasn't that bad, either.