Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)

Article #1160 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-18-2001
Posting Date: 10-15-2004
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Featuring Kenny Baker, Frank McHugh, Alice Brady

A small-town electrician with a baritone singing voice is asked to go to New York to sing on a radio show, and becomes a sensation when a botched operation for quinsy turns him into a tenor.

I’d like to point out here that I go into a lot of these movies blind; I had no idea what this one was going to be about until I slapped it into the player and let it rip. It’s your basic “innocent from the country goes to the big bad city” tale, and if you know about these sorts of tales, you should be able to figure out how it ends. The fantastic elements are slight; I don’t know if a throat operation can change the tone of you singing voice, but if it can’t, that’s one of them. The other involves an invention (by the singer, who also happens to be a master electrician) that makes cheap radios sound as good as expensive ones. Both elements serve no other purpose than to set in motion certain plot contrivances, and when the plot is as slight as this one is, I have no choice but to consign the movie to the realms of marginalia. This musical is only of cursory interest if you happen to be a big fan of the song stylings of Kenny Baker, whose singing talents far outstrip his thespic ones. The best performance comes from Alice Brady, who wisely tempers the bitchy prima donna character she plays with a real charm and an unflappability which manage to reveal that the persona is just a witty pose.


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