One of the first color musicals to be lensed and released in both silent and talkie versions, SALLY is a tuneful extravaganza based on the Kern-Bolton 1920 stage show, which also featured Miller. It had been done as a silent in 1925 with Colleen Moore and Leon Errol, and that version,
while lacking songs and color, was far funnier. Miller is a waitress who dances and sings her way into our hearts as she ascends the staircase to the heights of Broadway stardom. That's about the size of the story. On this slim tale, they hung a cast which included Joe E. Brown for comic relief,
Gray for male sex appeal, Chaplin veteran Sterling for a bit of villainy, 150 gorgeous showgirls, 36 superb Albertina Rasch dancers, 110 musicians in the orchestra, and some of the largest sets ever built at that time, earning the film an Academy Award nomination for Best Interior Decoration.
Instead of taking the story outside, the producers constructed exterior-interior sets so they could better control the new sound technology as well as the color film exposure. Tiny Miller was a very important star in theaters, although her charm seemed to elude the cameras, despite an energetic
attitude and winsome ways.
Many of the Kern songs were tossed aside in favor of some new ones by studio writers Al Dubin and Joe Burke. The remaining Kern melodies were "Look for the Silver Lining" (lyrics by B.G. De Sylva) and "Wild Rose" (lyrics by Clifford Grey). Dubin and Burke reworked Kern's "Sally" and also wrote
"What Will I Do without You?" "If I'm Dreaming, Don't Wake Me Up Too Soon," "All I Want to Do Do Do Is Dance," "Walking Off Those Balkan Blues," and "After Business Hours." Even by 1929 standards, this story had been seen many times before. It wasn't long before the studios got wise and decided
that they needn't spend a lot of cash for stage rights. Rather, they commenced making original musicals for the screen, hired the best songwriters they could find, built their own stables of stars, and began a trend which lasted for decades.
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- Review: One of the first color musicals to be lensed and released in both silent and talkie versions, SALLY is a tuneful extravaganza based on the Kern-Bolton 1920 stage show, which also featured Miller. It had been done as a silent in 1925 with Colleen Moore and… (more)