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Saturday, May 24, 2008

LILLIAN RUSSELL (1940)


Useless musical bio-pic of the great turn-of-the-century operetta diva fritters away a fine subject and a reasonably effective opening, homogenizing everything into a routine Alice Faye vehicle with lots of period trappings and a singular lack of narrative thrust. A male line-up of Don Ameche, William Warren, Edward Arnold, the real Weber & Fields and Henry Fonda (in abject misery thru-out) promise a bit of variety, but only Ameche gets up to anything. And he’s insufferable.


WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Probably the best of the Alice Faye bio-pics is ROSE OF WASHINGTON SQUARE/'39 where she plays a Fanny ('Funny Girl') Brice character in all but name. How close? Close enough for Brice to win a law suit against 20th/Fox.

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