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Thursday, April 23, 2009

HELLO, FRISCO, HELLO (1943)


Alice Faye’s return as queen of the Fox musical (after two-years off to start a family) was short-lived once this blandly formulaic Barbary Coast romance came out. It’s a loose remake of her own star-making vehicle, THE KING OF BURLESQUE/’35 with a listless John Payne (unappealingly mustached) in the old Warner Baxter role of a social climbing showman who gets burned by High Society before he learns to appreciate loyal little Alice. Jack Oakie also repeats from the earlier film, playing sidekick, this time well-matched with feisty June Havoc. They turn out to be the liveliest elements in a film that’s embalmed with plush TechniColor, too much physical production and flavorless period songs. (Luckily, there’s one new song for Alice and it’s a honey, the WWII classic ‘You’ll Never Know.’) Faye went on to play the nominal lead in Busby Berkeley’s astoundingly weird & wonderful THE GANG’S ALL HERE/’43 and she then tried a straight role in FALLEN ANGELS/’45. But she didn’t seem to care anymore.

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