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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

HERE COME THE WAVES (1944)


This harmless military comedy was the last film Mark Sandrich (of the Astaire & Rogers films) completed before dying at 43 during prep for BLUE SKIES/’46. It ought to be a lot better than it is. Bing Crosby plays a cross between himself & Frank Sinatra (note the swooning bobby-soxers & his OTT rendition of ‘That Old Black Magic’) who wants to join the Navy with his big pal Sonny Tufts. Trouble comes by way of twin sisters, a nutty blonde played by Betty Hutton & a sobersided brunette played by . . . Betty Hutton. (The split-screen stuff is nifty, with a couple of tricky crossovers thrown in.) They all wind up putting on a big recruitment show for the WAVES with songs from Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer. ‘Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive’ came out of this one, but they rarely show the clip (even in anthologies) because it’s in blackface! Oy! (Maybe this ain’t so harmless.) Well, at least Bing sounds great (dig those low notes on ‘Accentuate’) and Hutton gets her laughs, come hell or high water. She’s really quite charming as the quiet sis, a lot like Rosemary Clooney in WHITE CHRISTMAS/’54 which stole a good bit from this one.

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