SING, BABY, SING (1936)
Article 5377 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Sidney Lanfield
Featuring Alice Faye, Adolphe Menjou, Gregory Ratoff
What it is: Musical comedy / Horror
Poor Joan Warren! Not only is her singing career on the skids because she’s not a trendy “blue blood”, but she also has to preview comedy acts by the Ritz Brothers. However, her agent attempts to resurrect her career by romantically linking her with a vacationing but hard-drinking Hollywood actor.
Where does the horror come in? Well, the movie does feature the Ritz Brothers… and that’s a cheap shot, I’ll admit. It’s not their fault I tend to associate them with the dismal THE GORILLA; in reality, they were out of their element in that movie and they knew it. That’s not the case in this movie; there performance consists of a series of vaudeville song-and-dance routines, and there’s something to admire in the deftness of their comic hoofing, However, as far as comedy goes, I feel they come across as a less-inspired Danny Kaye crossed with Huntz Hall at his muggiest, and that’s not a comfortable place to be. Nevertheless, they are responsible for the fantastic content of the movie; one of their routines takes on the Dr. Jekyll story and also features a version of the Frankenstein monster.
Most of the movie is your typical musical comedy of the time. The best thing about it is Adolphe Menjou’s performance as an actor somewhat inspired by John Barrymore; I’ve seen this actor in many movies, but I’ve never quite seen him cut loose in a comic style like this. The movie also features Ted Healy, and quite frankly, the Three Stooges were better off without him. Alice Faye and Gregory Ratoff do a fine job, and some of the songs are pretty decent. All in all, it’s pretty marginal from a genre perspective, but I’ve seen a lot worse.