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Page # 1948

zmu| Broadway Melody of 1936
Director: Roy Del Ruth, W.S. Van Dyke
Screenplay: Sid Silvers, Edwin J. Burke, Harry W. Conn, Jack McGowan, Moss Hart
Producer: John W. Considine Jr.
Cast: Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell, Robert Taylor, Una Merkel, Sid Silvers
Genre: Comedy

Running Time: 101
Aspect Ratio:  (NTSC )
Features: Black and White
Studio:  MGM (Video & DVD) DVD Region:  1 NR
DVD Release:  Feb 1995 Discs:  1 (VHS Tape) [$19.98]
Reviews:  This smash musical that won the Oscar for best dance direction was headlined by leggy Eleanor Powell abetted by a cast of superb dancers who danced, well.. spectacularly.

At 5'6', Ms. Powell is not Maurice Chevalier's little Gigi, but when she flashes one of her signature dance moves at you, you ARE sent crashing to the ceiling! Once you've seen a few of her flicks, you wait - with baited breath -- for some of her athletic moves so perfect they shame Olympians. This was Eleanor Powell's first starring role, made when she was a fresh, nubile 23. She became -- as they say -- an overnight sensation.

She plays a talented small town (Albany - as compared to NYC) lass who comes to the Big Apple hoping her high school squeeze (the young and impossibly handsome Robert Taylor) - now a biggie producer will give her a break. Taylor, a truly excellent actor, is clueless in his semi-officiousness and handicapped by the entreaties of the show's angel, (played deliciously by June Knight, a great hoofer in her own right) whose financial backing - she thinks - entitles her to the lead role - and a chuck of the producer's romantic affections. Robert Gordon (Taylor) wants to send Irene (Powell) back to safety of Albany.

The young Jack Benny plays a sleazeball tabloid reporter who provides the plot complications, aided by his undeft henchman, Snoop (Sid Silvers.) (Benny got top billing here and while great, he was over-ranked.) Cameo appearances by Frances Langford - a popular singer for decades - gave big-name heft to the movie. Irene's (Ms. Powell) plight is rescued by Taylor's clever Samaritan secretary (Una Merkel) who disguises Irene as a sexy French Fireball to get the starring role.

Fantastic dancing abounds. Powell, hoofing with Buddy & Vilma Ebsen, will knock your socks off. (Powell's vertical high kicks shame the Las Vegas show girls!) But the first big dance to the tune of "I've Got A Feelin' You're Foolin'" is just sensational - sans Powell - with June Knight (the angel) and Taylor's assistant in this flick, Nick Long, Jr. I cannot find any other movies in which Mr. Long danced. Indeed, he changed his vocation to set direction, but in this movie, he makes moves that rival Gene Kelly's, Donald O'Connor's and which even Fred Astaire could not do. You hafta see this.

While Ms.Powell's tap as the coquettish French fireball is fetching, her ballet in the dream sequence to "You Are My Lucky Star" is soul-stirring. When Powell arcs one of her shapely gams in a near-perfect circle (one of her signature moves) you thank heaven for little girls, because they grow up in the most delightful ways. Eleanor Powell certainly did.

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