Classic Musicals Collection: Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory, Vol. 3

Classic Musicals Collection: Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory, Vol. 3
Sometimes reaching into the vaults means that you scrape the bottom of the barrel. Hence this collection of inoffensive but mostly disposable classic musicals in which there’s nothing essential beyond the slightly diverting. Best of the bunch are three ’30s show people sagas by Roy Del Ruth: Born to Dance, Broadway Melody of 1936 and Broadway Melody of 1938. All involve Eleanor Powell as a good girl ingénue coming to make it big on the Great White Way, with a supporting cast that doesn’t change even as her love interest does. None of these are genius but they’re part of an unpretentious depression-era genus that is purely entertaining without pomposity. Not so Kismet, which is sort of the 1001 Nights of the Sands Hotel. Howard Keel heads up the cast of a parody Middle Ages Arabia in which a beggar/poet manages to insinuate his daughter into the heart of the Caliph. Racist overtones aside, the film is mostly pointless, though it has one or two standards. Hit the Deck is another "why did they bother?” number in which a trio of seamen have romantic adventures. It was apparently a hit on Broadway, though the indifferent production never finds its conceptual hook. Still, it’s better than Deep in My Heart, with Jose Ferrer as composer Sigmund Romberg, a biopic infiltrated by songs; it’s surprisingly disposable coming from one of the minds behind Singin’ in the Rain. Nancy Goes to Rio and Two Weeks with Love are both teenage romances starring Jane Powell as a girl who falls for much older men. But whether in contemporary Rio or the turn of the 19th century, they have the same denial of their more disturbing implications as teenage pap of the present. Last and least is Lady Be Good, which is less a musical than a strained romantic comedy with Ann Sothern and Robert Young as songwriters who can’t live together and can’t live apart. It’s mostly deadly, with Red Skelton on hand to kill what was already weak and enfeebled. (Warner)