Sun Valley Serenade

It’s where a Norwegian war refugee meets up with a band pianist in whom the star vocalist has her hooks, the Norwegian’s pretty clever and gets him, though, it ends with the vocalist bowing out for an ice show, the band in white tie, violins added.

Crowther took a vacation in his New York Times review and wrote a sensible appraisal. Geoff Andrew of Time Out Film Guide likes Glenn Miller and His Orchestra and Hermes Pan and, with Crowther, finds a “slim storyline”. Halliwell’s Film Guide substantially agrees, calling it “simple-minded”.

The refugee gag is a publicity stunt thought up by Nifty, the pianist goes to the train station for a babe in arms and gets Sonja Henie, who dances memorably on black ice at the conclusion.




To the Shores of Tripoli

The film is as tough as basic training on several points that narrow or broaden to the definition of a Marine, as distinct from a man of talents as a scholar from a pedant. This is outlined at the very first, the Marine Corps is no respecter of persons, even at Tripoli.

A Marine is a Marine, names don’t matter. This is a remarkably efficient way to run an outfit.

It takes a long time, eight weeks, for a recruit to learn, that’s what boot camp is for, and what the film is.

Crowther thought the opposite, and recommended wiring Congress in his New York Times review.

The beautiful Technicolor serves the artistic occasion, and the perfect jokes.


Happy Go Lovely

The director of Sun Valley Serenade and the author of Break in the Circle meet at Elstree Studios (and on location in Edinburgh) to put on a musical not like any other, except possibly Ken Russell’s The Boy Friend. Though it must be said that, after this, Let’s Make Love was inevitable.

A fine study could be made of Happy Go Lovely’s relationship to Royal Wedding, which was filmed at the same time, and which is often strikingly similar. The material comes from several sources, including Speak Easily and A Christmas Carol, with a foretaste of Mary Poppins.

Humberstone makes use of Degas lighting, and even a touch of Blake (!). Cesar Romero is made to resemble Diaghilev, Vera-Ellen looks surprisingly like Wendy Hiller, and early on David Niven gives a hint of Cary Grant (in, say, Bringing Up Baby).

The stage musical being put on is billed thusly, “John Frost presents Janet Jones in Frolics to You”.

I Love Lucy borrowed the plot, with Philip Ober as Dore Schary pretending to be an actor hired to play Dore Schary.

The general action of the film is actually conveyed by the dances, from a Scottish mating ritual to a Vera-Ellen solo (by way of a Fragonard fantasy and a romance on Hooker Row), and was overlooked by the critics. “Mine eyes dazzle.”


Tarzan and the Lost Safari

The posh safari flies in on a comfortably appointed plane that takes a low swoop to admire the flamingoes and is struck by them. It crashes on the verge of a precipice, and Tarzan (Gordon Scott), who has been dozing not too far away, helps them out just before the wreckage goes over and falls to the valley floor below.

He fights off some fierce-looking tribesmen, who are revealed to be in league with the white hunter Tusker Hawkins (Robert Beatty). Eventually, Tusker lands the safari on the sacrificial altar of the tribe.

Doodles Fletcher (Wilfrid Hyde-White) has continual trouble lighting his cigarette, but each time Cheta (a gifted and remarkable performer) takes the recalcitrant gold lighter from his hand and ignites it for him effortlessly.

The girls too have poetic and evocative names, Diana Penrod (Betta St. John) and Gamage Dean (Yolande Donlan).