Bowery to Broadway Film Details
Overview: Two Bowery vaudevillians find success in producing shows on Broadway, but when one of them suddenly departs to work for a beautiful woman, a feud erupts.
Tagline: TO FILL YOUR EYES…TO THRILL YOUR HEART!
Review: Baby-faced charismatic veteran character actor Jack Oakie and Bogart-like Donald Cook star in the melodramatic portions of this musical drama about two bachelor Bowery burlesque owners(O’Rourke and Dugan, respectively) in late 19th or very early 20th century Manhattan. They have been competing against each other for years, trying to steal each other’s stars and ideas, sometimes joining forces, periodically being jailed for indecent entertainment, or hitting the skids when their star vaporizes. The screenplay rather resembles that of Fox’s Technicolor hit of the previous year “Coney Island”, starring Betty Grable, Caesar Romero, and George Montgomery. Jack was in his favorite element, having spent much of his early theatrical career in Broadway musicals and comedies, and having costarred in such musical theater films as “Tin Pan Alley”, “King of Burlesque” and its remake “Hello, Frisco, Hello”, and in the earlier ’44 “The Monahans”, with teenage Don O’Connor and Peggy Ryan. The latter two had one stage production in this film, singing and dancing to “He Took Me for a Sleigh Ride in the Good Old Summertime”, certainly one of the stage production highlights of the film. A series of female singer/ actresses alternatively serve as the main star of one or the other establishment, then vanish from the stage. The first is blond Bonnie Latour, played by Evelyn Ankers, seemingly out of her element, as she was usually cast in Universal’s frequent horror films. She was replaced by the only historical personage in the screen play: Lillian Russell, who only sings as a member of the audience in Dugan’s club. Louise Allbriton, a striking young blond contract player for Universal, makes a very convincing Lillian, in a very fancy outfit. She participates in one of the highlights of the film, which begins as a male quartet on stage, moving to Lillian in the audience, then back to the stage for the finale. It’s done to the popular turn of the century ditty “Under the Bamboo Tree”, composed by an African American team, sited in Zululand. This song was done by Judy Garland and very young Margeret O’Brien, in the popular period “Meet Me in St. Louis”, also released in ’44. I find the production in the present film much more impressive. Louise was also impressive as an actress in the Universal musical comedy “This is the Life”, released earlier in ’44. The next big star find involved Suzanna Foster, as Peggy Fleming, a striking coloratura soprano, who is reluctant to become a theatrical star. Suzanna sings 3 songs,only one on stage. This is an elaborate production, with a backup chorus-dance troupe,to “There’ll Always be a Moon”, with Peggy siting on a swing-like crescent moon. .. Strangely, this show was begun a second time. But, part way through, Peggy falls off the moon, sustaining serious injuries. She is never again seen in a show, although she sings another song and appears periodically as a supporting character.Just before this mishap, Peggy doesn’t want to go on stage, reiterating that she doesn’t want to become a theatrical star. Ironically, the real Suzanna, who had been featured in a number of previous Universal and Paramount musicals, said she had no desire for a long career as a star or any other demanding career. She would quit Universal the next year, dissatisfied with her recent roles. The next show star is an established European actress and singer: Marina, played by first-billed Maria Mantez. Maria, although with said limited singing, dancing and acting talent, had been picked up by Universal a few years earlier.She had become very popular with wartime audiences in a series of forgettable escapist sand and sandals Technicolor films. Apparently, this is the reason for her first -billing, despite her limited appearances.She starred in one lavish production number. “My Song of Romance” and “Montevideo” were featured. I don’t know if she did her own singing, but it was quite adequate, along with that of her accompanying male singer/dancer. She was rather striking looking, as billed. Dugan develops a crush on her, which has its ups and downs,the final scene suggesting an eventual reconciliation. Aside from the O’Connor-Ryan number near the end, the final singing star discovered is Bessie Jo Kirby: the daughter of a couple who had long been with O’Rourke in the Bowery, but felt out of place on Broadway. Bessie is played by 16 y.o. Ann Blyth, who had sung some in two previous ’44 films starring O’Connor and Ryan, which featured her much more in the melodrama. Here, she stars in the final big production number. Presumably, it’s the song titled “The Love Waltz” I should mention an informal street verbal comedy skit by African Americans Mantan Moreland and Ben Carter. They engage in what was termed an ‘indefinite talk’ routine, in which they continuously cut off each other in mid-sentence, as if they know the rest of the sentence. Mantan had much previous stage experience with this. This B&W film is currently available at You Tube in 2 segments, which gives you a snack/bathroom intermission break.
Country: United States
Duration: 94 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Also known as: Natt över Broadway,Saudades do Passado,Luta pela Glória,Bowery to Broadway,Tras la fama,Due gambe… un milione!,Ilojen katu