Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Puttin' Down the Ritz

I think I queued up On the Avenue (1937) because Miss Brodie's recent film quiz asked about Roy Del Ruth's films. Once I realized she wasn't talking about Del Lord, I decided I should watch a few, and this is the one that came up in Netflix. Not sure it was the best choice.

The plot is simple: Dick Powell has a Broadway show that satirizes a rich family. When the family sees it, they go on the warpath. Daughter Madeleine Carroll decides to get her revenge by throwing herself at Powell. He falls for her, but his leading lady and secret admirer Alice Faye tries to crimp his style.

The plot is really a series of practical jokes: Powell lampoons Carroll and family, Faye spoofs Powell and then Powell pulls one last trick to get Carroll back. So it all ends happily, except:

  • Madeleine Carroll is nice to look at, but doesn't have much going on. Alice Faye should have gotten Powell in the end - or at least more screen time.
  • Instead of Faye, we get rather a lot of the Ritz Brothers.
Now, I didn't like the Ritz Brothers the last time I saw them, in The Three Musketeers. They are better here - they make comic use of their very similar faces and do some crazy legs dancing. But they are not very good.

Neither are most of the rest of the musical numbers, even thought they were penned by Irving Berlin. "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" is best known, but Faye really sells "Last Year's Kisses". The big production number is the dire "Slumming on Park Avenue". 

Unless you love this kind of musical comedy, I wouldn't recommend this one.

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