Honolulu (1939)

When you settle in to watch a film called “Honolulu,” you might expect to see a lush, expansive musical with plenty of opulent sets and numbers, perhaps a sequence or two in Technicolor to highlight the natural beauty of the island and to wow the viewer’s imagination. But, lest you start to think that all of 1939’s films were big epics, that’s really not the case for MGM’s 1939 Honolulu—it’s a very small-scale movie, set mostly in the interiors of passenger ships and homes instead of tropical jungles and pristine beaches. Instead, we’re treated to some fun trick photography and several Eleanor Powell dance numbers, which may be a fair enough trade for some people.

The Fleet’s In (1942)

There’s something so inherently charming about the classic, sailor musical. For the American public, World War 2 had become such a part of their daily lives that it even began to infiltrate the typically happy world of musicals. It’s a subgenre that’s essentially impossible to recreate at any other moment in history—they’re inherently of their time, and I love the sweet kind of optimism and escapism that typically exist, despite the aspects of reality encroaching in. TCM focused on a specific subset of “sailors on leave” pictures a few nights ago, and I caught one that I had never seen: The Fleet’s In, starring Dorothy Lamour and William Holden.