Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Movie Review - Moon Over Miami

How I saw this…

My dad’s a big Betty Grable fan (not just of her legs – by the way she never really insured her legs for a million dollars, that was a studio publicity stunt) and for this reason I have seen many, if not most, of her films. (Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan myself – though I have nothing against either Grable or her undoubtedly fine pins, either). The latest one he bought was “Moon Over Miami”, which is, as most Betty Grable films are, watchable and entertaining enough without being spectacular.


The Story…

This 1941 movie is very similar to the later Grable film with Marylyn Monroe - “How to Marry a Millionaire”. This film is actually a musical remake of the play “Three Blind Mice”. I have a problem with the whole gold-digging idea anyway, but not so much that I can’t appreciate the humour of the situations herein. Kay Latimer (Grable) talks her sister Barbara (Carole Landis) and aunt (Charlotte Greenwood) into a crazy plan of spending their entire inheritance money going to Miami in the hope of her being able to marry a rich bachelor before their money runs out.

Her two prospective suitors are Phil O'Neil (Don Ameche) and Jeffrey Bolton (Robert Cummings) – though one of them is not as rich as they at first appear…


Corn

This film has it in abundance. The acting is corny and the plot cornier. And yet somehow that is the appeal of this sort of ultra-light musical – it’s pure escapism, so far removed from reality that it’s quite enjoyable. And after all, the plot is really just an excuse for lots of singing and dancing, and showing off Gable’s talents and wonderful figure (and Greenwood’s amazing dancing style!).

The competition between O’Neil and Bolton is frankly ridiculous, but it’s played for laughs and works most of the time.

And the opening sequence deserves a place in film history for being one of the most awe-inspiringly hammy song and dance routines ever!


The Cast

While Gable is her normal engaging self and Tyrone Power (who plays opposite Gable in many films) is his normal charming self, Cummings is a rather weak romantic lead and not up to the class of Gable’s normal leading men, Tyrone Power and John Payne. Jack Hayley turns in a good performance as Charlotte Greenwood’s put-upon love interest.


The Songs

The songs vary greatly in quality from "Is that Good?" (yes it is) to the frankly awful “Kindergatrten Conga”, which is so bad it makes your ears want to do you bodily harm. The dancing, however, ranges from good to excellent. The Condos Brothers feature in an extended dance routine with Gable, along with Jack Cole and company.

The quality of the dancing is probably above average for this type of film. The songs just about make average.


Overall

It really depends if you like this sort of film, and especially if you like Grable. If you do, then I’m sure you’ll find this one as enjoyable as most. If not, there’s nothing to particularly recommend this film. It’s not bad for what it is, but nothing remarkable either. The humour in the film works more often than not, but don’t expect anything sophisticated!


Other Details

Runtime: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Directed by Walter Lang.

Grable’s previous movie, “I Wake Up Screaming” (also 1941) saw a critically acclaimed performance by Grable in a more sombre role than usual. However, her fans didn’t like the fact that she didn’t show off her legs, so “Moon Over Miami” was commissioned to make up for it!

Legendary choreographer Hermes Pan, who worked with Grable on many movies, makes his one and only screen appearance in this film.

Related Review

If you like musicals, you may be interested in the musically brilliant Stormy Weather, one of the first films to feature an all black cast.

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