Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Rose of Washington Square (1939) Film Review

Plot Summary - "Stand By Your Man" - - Musical starring Alice Faye as Rose Sargent, singer who performs at New York's "The Classy Vaudeville" theatre, belting out a tune in clingy black satin gown while patrons throw coins at her feet. At the Burlesque theatre ("28 Beautiful Girls") across the street her partner, Ted Cotter (Al Jolson), seems to have a side job singing in the aisle while selling sheet music ("The Latest Song Hits") and boxes of "Yum Yums" at intermission. Feeling like their act's not getting anywhere, Rose decides to get away from it all and takes off with her gal pal to a "summer hotel" for a break. Who should show up - just to use the phone - one gum-chewing, a little bit arrogant charm boy Bart Clinton (Tyrone Power), and, man, is he handsome! When Bart sees Rose singing in the hotel parlor with a crowd of people, he decides to stay the night. Now, these two make one gorgeous couple - you just know they're meant to hook up. And yes, before you know it she's clinging to his arm and going down the road with him to a party thrown by Bart's wealthy war buddy. But turns out Bart has a shady side - he's a small time crook who's mixed up with gambling, crimes, and gangsters. He gets in trouble with the law right after the party and leaves in the middle of the night, no word to his new love Rose. But time goes by and they hook up again, when he spots her performing at a speakeasy. Now this guy just keeps getting into jams, but Rose loves him so much she'll stand by her man no matter what! And soon she gets her big break and gets signed to star in the Ziegfeld Follies - while Bart faces a possible jail sentence.

Review - This is a fun, entertaining film with lots of star power and great musical numbers to keep you happy. I especially enjoyed Alice Faye singing "I'm Just Wild About Harry" in the speakeasy scene, accompanied by none other than Louis Prima (love him!) - and the finale number where she sings "My Man", her vocals in rich, deep, sultry tones. Al Jolson also performs several well done numbers, including "Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye" and Mammy in blackface. There's tons of chemistry between Faye and Tyrone Power - when they kiss, sparks are flying (and who can blame her, as I said above - man, is he handsome). Alice Faye is just beautiful and glamorous here, as usual - she's one of my favorites. Watch for William Frawley as the agent, Charles Lane as a talent scout, Leonard Kibrick as a newspaper boy, and specialty dance duo, Igor and Tanya, who are really great as Igor spins limber Tanya around like a rag doll in part of the "Rose of Washington Square" number. The film is set during Prohibition but you wouldn't know it by the clothes, all the gowns are strictly modern 1939. The film is in black and white, and looks very nice on the 20th Century Fox DVD. It includes several deleted songs including Faye singing "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows". Rating - 8/10 stars

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