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Wed Jun 13, 2018, 10:00 AM

TCM Schedule for Thursday, June 14, 2018 -- What's On Tonight: TCM Spotlight - Mad About Musicals

Throughout the day TCM is going Mad About Musicals in the 1940s, continuing the decade covered on this Tuesday. Tell us more, Roger!

Musicals of the 1940s were affected by the changing times--most notably the turmoil of World War II--which made the escapism of the movie musical especially welcomed. Most major musicals were now shot in color, although James Cagney pranced to a Best Actor win in a black-and-white one portraying the super-patriotic George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

Significant changes were being made in the areas of pre-recording, post-sound and location shooting. Meanwhile, the '40s put the spotlight on new musical stars like Betty Grable (Moon Over Miami, 1941), Esther Williams (Bathing Beauty, 1944), Gene Kelly (Anchors Aweigh, 1945 and On the Town, 1949), Doris Day (My Dream Is Yours, 1949) and Kathryn Grayson (Two Sisters from Boston, 1946 and That Midnight Kiss, 1949).

Astaire lost Rogers as his dancing partner, but he rebounded with such co-stars as Rita Hayworth (You Were Never Lovelier, 1942) and Bing Crosby (Holiday Inn, 1942). Garland emerged as the brightest star of the studio most adept at making musicals, MGM. She starred in, among others, Strike Up the Band (1940), For Me and My Gal (1942), The Harvey Girls (1946), Words and Music (1948), The Pirate (1948) and Easter Parade (1948).

by Roger Fristoe


6:00 AM -- BATHING BEAUTY (1944)
A songwriter enrolls in an all-girl school to court a pretty gym teacher.
Dir: George Sidney
Cast: Red Skelton, Esther Williams, Basil Rathbone
C-101 mins, CC,

The movie was initially to be titled "The Co-Ed" with Red Skelton having top billing. However, once MGM execs watched the first cut of the film, they realized that Esther Williams' role should be showcased more, and so changed the title to "Bathing Beauty", giving her top billing and featuring her bathing-suit clad figure on the posters.

In this short film, a compilation of musicals are shown and the audience is invited to sing along. Vitaphone Release 1607A.
Dir: Jack Scholl
BW-11 mins,

8:00 AM -- THAT MIDNIGHT KISS (1949)
A singing truck driver battles snobbery to become a star.
Dir: Norman Taurog
Cast: Kathryn Grayson, Josť Iturbi, Ethel Barrymore
C-98 mins, CC,

Although this was officially Mario Lanza's film debut, he had previously appeared as an uncredited chorus member in Winged Victory (1944). Like the character he plays in the movie, Lanza was an opera singer from an Italian-American family in Philadelphia.

Two girls with Broadway aspirations find work in a Bowery saloon.
Dir: Henry Koster
Cast: Kathryn Grayson, June Allyson, Lauritz Melchior
BW-112 mins, CC,

Sammy Fain and Ralph Freed wrote additional songs that were not used in the picture: "Autumn Twilight," "Indian Holiday," "Lanterns in the Sky," "More Than Ever" and "Seattle."

11:45 AM -- TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR (1944)
Singing sisters create a World War II canteen and become rivals for the same man.
Dir: Richard Thorpe
Cast: June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Van Johnson
BW-124 mins, CC,

Nominee for an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay -- Richard Connell and Gladys Lehman

Gracie Allen loathed the hurry-up-and-wait tedium of making movies, but husband George Burns always talked her into it, claiming it was good for both their act and their bank account. By this point in their career the couple no longer needed publicity or money, so once filming was completed, Allen insisted this was to be her final movie - which it was.

An Argentine heiress thinks a penniless American dancer is her secret admirer.
Dir: William A. Seiter
Cast: Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Adolphe Menjou
BW-97 mins, CC,

Nominee for Oscars for Best Sound, Recording -- John P. Livadary (Columbia SSD), Best Music, Original Song -- Jerome Kern (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) for the song "Dearly Beloved", and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- Leigh Harline

Free space at the studio was limited during production so Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth rehearsed most of their routines in a nearby funeral parlor next to a cemetery. They had to stop rehearsing to the upbeat music whenever a funeral procession arrived.

3:45 PM -- MY DREAM IS YOURS (1949)
A talent scout turns a young unknown into a radio singing star.
Dir: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Jack Carson, Doris Day, Lee Bowman
C-101 mins, CC,

Certain elements of the Doris Day character's "back story" were "lifted" from Day's offscreen life at the time. Before being discovered by Warner stalwart Michael Curtis and cast in her screen debut Romance on the High Seas, Day had been a popular radio singer and recording artist. The subplot of her heartbreak at being separated from her young son in this film also reflected Day's true life experience: While pursuing her career as a big band singer, Day had to park her son Terry with his grandmother and rarely saw her child face-to-face. One of her first decisions after signing a seven year contract with Warners was to move both her son and mother to Burbank and establish a "real home" for her family.

5:30 PM -- ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945)
A pair of sailors on leave try to help a movie extra become a singing star.
Dir: George Sidney
Cast: Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Gene Kelly
C-139 mins, CC,

Winner of an Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- George Stoll (On 10 September 2001 Kevin Spacey purchased Stoll's Oscar statuette at a Butterfields auction in Los Angeles and returned it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.)

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Gene Kelly, Best Cinematography, Color -- Robert H. Planck and Charles P. Boyle, Best Music, Original Song -- Jule Styne (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics) for the song "I Fall in Love Too Easily", and Best Picture

It took Frank Sinatra eight weeks to learn the dance routine for the berthing area scene. Ultimately it took 72 takes to get the right footage, though this was probably more down to Gene Kelly's meticulous need for perfection rather than Sinatra's inexperience as a dancer. Sinatra later said that he could have made an entire film in eight weeks.


Spirited musical biography of the song-and-dance man who kept America humming through two world wars.
Dir: Michael Curtiz
Cast: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston
BW-126 mins, CC,

Winner of Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- James Cagney, Best Sound, Recording -- Nathan Levinson (Warner Bros. SSD), and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemheld

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- Walter Huston, Best Director -- Michael Curtiz, Best Writing, Original Story -- Robert Buckner, Best Film Editing -- George Amy, and Best Picture

Many facts were changed or ignored to add to the feel of the movie. For example, the real George M. Cohan was married twice, and although his second wife's middle name was Mary, she went by her first name, Agnes. In fact, the movie deviated so far from the truth that, following the premiere, the real George M. Cohan commented, "It was a good movie. Who was it about?"

10:15 PM -- HOLIDAY INN (1942)
When he loses in love, a song-and-dance man retires from show business to run a country inn.
Dir: Mark Sandrich
Cast: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Marjorie Reynolds
BW-101 mins, CC,

Winner of an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song -- Irving Berlin for the song "White Christmas"

Nominee for Oscars for Best Writing, Original Story -- Irving Berlin, and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- Robert Emmett Dolan

The firecracker dance sequence was added to the movie as a patriotic number, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, which took place during filming. The dance number required three days of rehearsal and took two days to film. Fred Astaire did 38 takes of the number before he was satisfied with it. The crew members had to wear goggles during filming, because the sand from the firecrackers flew into their faces. Later, Astaire's shoes for the dance were auctioned off for $116,000 worth of war bonds.

In this short film, four popular songs about moonlight are presented, such as "Moonlight Bay" and "In the Evening by the Moonlight." Vitaphone Release 1597A.
Dir: Jack Scholl
Cast: Pat McKee,
BW-9 mins,

12:15 AM -- MOON OVER MIAMI (1941)
Two sisters from Texas travel to Florida looking for rich husbands.
Dir: Walter Lang
Cast: Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Robert Cummings
C-92 mins, CC,

Betty Grable's dance partner in the number "Kindergarten Conga" was choreographer Hermes Pan, who also staged the musical numbers in this movie.

A serviceman and a starlet find love at the star-staffed serviceman's center.
Dir: Delmer Daves
Cast: Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Joe E. Brown
BW-124 mins, CC,

Nominee for Oscars for Best Sound, Recording -- Nathan Levinson (Warner Bros. SSD), Best Music, Original Song -- M.K. Jerome (music) and Ted Koehler (lyrics) for the song "Sweet Dreams Sweetheart", and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- Ray Heindorf

Originally conceived by Warner Bros. as a multi-studio (like the actual Hollywood Canteen) WWII effort with rival studios (Fox, Paramount, MGM, etc.) contributing cameo appearances by its stars. But when other studios balked at having performers appear (even though profits were reportedly earmarked for war effort), Warner turned it into a single-studio affair.

4:15 AM -- RHAPSODY IN BLUE (1945)
Fictionalized biography of George Gershwin and his fight to bring serious music to Broadway.
Dir: Irving Rapper
Cast: Robert Alda, Joan Leslie, Alexis Smith
BW-141 mins, CC,

Nominee for Oscars for Best Sound, Recording -- Nathan Levinson (Warner Bros. SSD), and Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner

Maurice Ravel actually rejected Gershwin as a student because he was afraid that classical training would interfere with Gershwin's unique style.

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