Ten writers, including Dorothy Parker and Anita Loos, tried to come up with a workable script for this attempt at a cinematic equivalent of the Ziegfeld Follies, with Ben Hecht given credit for the final draft, reputedly written in two weeks. Critics have been hard on THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES,
but any picture that introduces Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen can't be all bad. The plot, mainly an excuse for the plentiful musical numbers, concerns failing film producer Oliver Merlin (Adolphe Menjou) and Hazel Dawes (Andrea Leeds), a plain-spoken young woman from a small town who is able
to tell the moviemaker why no one takes his films seriously. Merlin hires Hazel to be his consultant, sets her up in a chaperoned house, and sneaks her in and out of the studio, determined to keep the Hollywood crowd from spoiling her. After suggesting that Merlin give his version of "Romeo and
Juliet" a happy ending, Hazel considers his next big project, coming up with a storyline to suit the various performers Merlin has lined up for a film extravaganza not unlike THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES.
Among the dubious talents to perform in the film-within-the-film are a Russian actress Olga Samara (Vera Zorina, ballerina wife of choreographer George Balanchine), a talentless accordion player (Kenny Baker), the Ritz Brothers, and Bergen and dummy. Not surprisingly, Hazel comes up with both the
right plot twist and a young man to play the role it hinges on, Danny Beecher (Kenny Baker), a local short order cook. What's more, Danny and Hazel fall for each other, though this doesn't sit well with Merlin, who is in love with his pretty consultant. Everything turns out just fine in the end,
however, with everyone sitting around the piano singing "Love Walked In." In the middle of this, there is a big water ballet, featuring Zorina, arias from "La Traviata," and several songs from George Gershwin, who died during the making the film and whose tunes were completed by Vernon Duke (with
help from Oscar Levant). Sure, it's dumb and yes, it's about as real as a trip to Mars by streetcar, but there is some fun in the sheer silliness. The film earned Academy Award nominations for Best Interior Decoration and Best Score. The musical selections include "Romeo And Juliet" (ballet),
"Water Nymph" (ballet), "Here, Pussy, Pussy" (Ray Golden, Sid Kuller), "Serenade To A Fish" (performed by the Ritz Brothers), "Love Walked In" and "Love Is Here To Stay" (George, Ira Gershwin, sung by Kenny Baker), "Spring Again" (Vernon Duke, Ira Gershwin).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Ten writers, including Dorothy Parker and Anita Loos, tried to come up with a workable script for this attempt at a cinematic equivalent of the Ziegfeld Follies, with Ben Hecht given credit for the final draft, reputedly written in two weeks. Critics have… (more)