This month features a few theme nights that play into my strengths—namely, some Eleanor Powell and Bob Hope flicks. There’s a lot of other interesting stuff, featuring some of the biggest names in musicals, so let’s get to it!
Tuesday November 4
12:45am / The Seven Little Foys (1955) [my review] Part of a primetime Bob Hope celebration, here he stars as vaudevillian Eddie Foy who gets his kids in on the act. Jimmy Cagney cameos as George M. Cohan, his Yankee Doodle Dandy character, and they share a memorable tabletop tap number.
Thursday November 13
1:15am / Born to Sing (1942)
Some classically full-blown wartime Americana, Virginia Welder and Ray McDonald put on a show to support their country in a Mickey-and-Judy-esque display of patriotism. Busby Berkeley steps in to direct the big—and I assume, subtle and restrained—finale, “Ballad for Americans.” (I haven’t seen this one, but please note it appears to include the use of blackface.)
Friday November 14
It’s Dick Powell day—so for those of you who aren’t fans… avert your eyes!
7:15am / Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934)
Promoter Pat O’Brien tries to make Dick Powell a star—at the expense of his marriage to Ginger Rogers. Remade in 1949 as My Dream Is Yours, starring Doris Day.
8:45am / Shipmates Forever (1935)
Powell plays an admiral’s son who has aspirations of the song-and-dance lifestyle. Luckily, he finds Ruby Keeler as a partner.
10:45am / Broadway Gondolier (1935)
What do you do when a radio producer doesn’t notice you among all the other singers in New York? Why, follow him to Venice, and catch his ear as a singing gondolier, of course! This bright idea comes courtesy of Powell again, this time paired with Joan Blondell.
12:30pm / Stage Struck (1936) [my review] An apparently forgettable Powell/Blondell vehicle, released shortly after they married—my memories came flooding back upon watching the bizarre “The Body Beautiful” all-male acrobatic number, however.
Saturday November 15
12:15pm / Kismet (1955)
Vincente Minnelli directs Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, and Dolores Grey in this Arabian Nights-style tale.
Tuesday November 18
7:00am / The Singing Fool (1928)
Al Jolson’s melodramatic follow-up to The Jazz Singer, your opinion on this one may depend largely on your opinion of Jolson. Early musical directed by Lloyd Bacon, later the helmer of 42nd Street and Footlight Parade.
8:45am / Say It With Songs (1929)
An accidental murder sends Al Jolson to jail, sacrificing his family. Man, some of these early musicals get DARK. Another Bacon production.
3:30pm / Navy Blues (1941)
A boat full of sailors get into trouble on leave in Hawaii, as sailors on leave in Hawaii tend to do. Ann Sheridan, Jack Oakie, Martha Raye, and Jack Haley star in another Bacon film.
Friday November 21
Set the DVR ’cause it’s Eleanor Powell day!!!!!!!!!!!!
6:30am / Born to Dance (1936) [my review]
An embarrassment of riches in musical form: peak Eleanor Powell entertains advances from young sailor Jimmy Stewart, as Broadway Melody familiars Una Merkel, Sid Silvers, and Buddy Ebsen offer support.
8:30am / Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) [my review] Columnist Jack Benny tries to frame producer Robert Taylor by using Powell, who poses as an outrageous, ridiculous French coquette for part of the time. Buddy Ebsen pairs with sister Vilma here, and we also get Merkel and Silvers.
10:15am / Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
Trouble in paradise as backstage problems plague a musical production, with Powell again teaming with Taylor. A young Judy Garland famously croons “Dear Mr. Gable.”
12:15pm / Rosalie (1937)
West Point cadet Nelson Eddy falls for princess Powell, in this middling musical with a classic Cole Porter score.
2:30pm / Honolulu (1939) [my review] Robert Young in a dual role as a movie star and a Hawaiian plantation owner. One of them woos Powell onboard a cruise ship. George Burns and Gracie Allen’s final film together.
4:00pm / Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
Powell comes between dancing team Fred Astaire and George Murphy, as they engineer miscommunications to get back on top. Sublime tap dancing numbers from Astaire and Powell.
6:00pm / Lady Be Good (1941)
Ann Sothern and Robert Young play songwriters who test the limits of their marriage while putting on a show, which includes Powell alongside Red Skelton.
Saturday November 22
9:45pm / The Kid From Brooklyn (1946)
Danny Kaye, a softspoken milkman from Brooklyn, accidentally becomes a prizefighter when organizers discover his mean hook. Featuring ladies like Virginia Mayo, Vera-Ellen, and Eve Arden.
Sunday November 23
6:00am / Two Girls and a Sailor (1944)
June Allyson and sister Gloria DeHaven fight for the right to sailor Van Johnson. Revue number includes Lena Horne and Gracie Allen.
12:00pm / Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Not super rare, but out of stock on Netflix for the time being—so you may want to set the tape just in case. Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, and Ann Miller star in the film adaptation of Cole Porter’s Broadway musical, based on The Taming of the Shrew.
Wednesday November 26
11:00am / The Glass Slipper (1955)
Lovely Leslie Caron stars in this fantastical, musical adaptation of Cinderella.