Catching Up on Rita, Eddy, and MacDonald

I’m slowly catching up on all my DVRed musicals that have been building up over the past month, and it’s been somewhat curious viewing them all en masse. Though there have certainly been some gems in there, it’s interesting to watch a span of movies that have all, for whatever reason, been deemed not popular enough to get a wide DVD release–but are culturally important enough to make their way onto TCM. For the most part, that usually just means there isn’t a huge star in them, or they’re just odd or “off” in some other way.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of these pictures have technically been on my That’s Entertainment watchlist, so in the interest of recording them regardless, I’m just going to go through a few of them at a time.

I Married an Angel: A MacDonald/Eddy collaboration (my first!), this is a funny little morality play about a selfish kind of lothario who proclaims that the only woman he could ever marry would have to be an “angel”–which he then must prove when an actual angel descends from heaven to marry him. I haven’t been reading any descriptions or looking up posters of the films, so I was delightfully surprised that the title turned out to be literal, huge feathered wings and all. There’s a great bit where he brings the angel to a party, but she doesn’t know how to lie–and gets into some trouble with her honesty. I also really enjoyed the reverse of that scene, when she turns sort of evil (for an angel) and is testing out all the new, deceptive powers of the white lie. The ending is kind of bizarre and not exactly what I’d call a “happy” ending, for her at least, but I guess it works for the time.

Broadway Serenade: This was pretty slow to start, but I liked it more once the couple got divorced (is that awful?). There was just more of a clear purpose to it after that point, and I could root for them to get back together instead of just kind of drifting apart. There’s some great, painfully cruel melodrama that I loved–when Mary Hale (MacDonald), at the height of her fame, is at a department store on Christmas Eve and swarmed by adoring fans asking her to sing something, and her ex-husband accompanying her as the store’s piano player, unbeknownst to her. So terrible, so great. There’s a trippy Busby Berkeley number at the end that’s funny in that it’s such a different type of spectacle from the rest of the film that it’s immediately apparent whose mind it has sprung from.

Tonight and Every Night: Gorgeous Rita Hayworth picture set in a London theatre during the Blitz. There are some great, vibrant, energetic musical numbers, and Hayworth is in top form. Her performance in “You Excite Me” is especially, well, exciting, as she flounces about in that fantastic costume. The ending of the movie is pretty intense… Robert Osbourne emphasized that it was an early musical drama in his introduction, but I was not expecting what happened. The final, teary number is very emotional, hitting in a guttural place, especially considering they were still filming this as WWII raged on.

Looking forward to continuing this series… I have two more MacDonald/Eddy’s to get through, and I’m saving Robin and the 7 Hoods for sometime special, because I’m anticipating a big hit.

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