See 1937 Gertrude Niesen - Top Of .
See Tap Dance 1937 (George Murph.
See Tap Dance - Early Peggy Ryan .
See Top Of The Town (Harold Adamso.
See Jesters Trio, Plush Room, San .
See 1937 Gertrude Niesen - Blame I.
See Frank Sinatra "Where Are.
See 1937 OSCAR-WINNING SONG: Sweet.
See GERTRUDE NIESEN - Broadway Rhy.
See 1937 Gertrude Niesen - Jambore.
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You'll probably never have a possibility to see this mind-boggling extravaganza from 1937; a colossal flop in its day, it's so fully forgotten actually that it doesn't even appear in Leonard Maltin's book. I can't imagine it ever coming out on video. But if you do see it -- as I did at Cinevent in Columbus, Ohio this spring -- you're in for an experience I'll bet you won't later forget.In 1936 a fresh administration swept into Universal Pictures determined to makeover the studio from top to bottom. "Top of the Town," released the next year, was part of that process and was obviously intended to be the musical to top all musicals. Well, it's not that, not by a long shot -- there are too many ghastly moments. But when "Top of the Town" is good, it's very nice indeed, and much of it is hilarious (though sometimes unintentionally).The plot, such as it is, centers on the opening of a luxury nightclub atop a 100-story skyscraper and the conflict over what type of floor present to present. Bandleader George Murphy wants hot tunes, belly laughs, nice dancing and razzle-dazzle, while the club's owner Doris Nolan (who has just returned from a trip to Russia filled with sympathy for the downtrodden masses) wants something artistic, deep and socially significant. Guess whose ver sends the audience away in droves, and guess whose ver brings them back singing and dancing.But the plot is just an excuse to string together a wild tons of musical-comedy specialty numbers. "Top of the Town" is like an old-time vaudeville show, with some nice comedy (like the Three Sailors, who combine their bodies in bizarre methods to "impersonate" camels and giraffes), some terrible comedy (Hugh Herbert, a tiny of whom...), a lot of terrific songs by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson (including two large hits, "There Are No Two Methods About It" and "Where Are You?", the latter of which became a standard), some nice dancing by Murphy and 13-year-old Peggy Ryan (in her first movie), and absolutely eye-popping Art Deco sets by legendary Broadway designer John Harkrider.And above all, the last half-hour, which starts with the (intentionally) hilarious disaster of the Doris Nolan character's "entertainment" tool and continues through George Murphy and the gang swinging to the rescue, is just about the most spectacular, cast-of-thousands-style toe-tapping production number in Hollywood history (the song, an infectious one, is named "Jamboree.") It's so irresistible that it easy erases any misgivings you might have had about the first 60 minutes. The performers, like the movie as a whole, are something of a mixed bag. George Murphy was clearly going territories (though no one should have predicted the U.S. Senate), as was tiny Peggy Ryan (she became a famous star in the 1940s in a series of B-musicals with Donald O'Connor; they were Universal's respond to Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland).A tiny more problematic are the two female vocalists. Ella Logan has pep and obvious talent, and she really shines in "There Are No Two Methods About It," but her enthusiasm becomes a bit obnoxious at times. Gertrude Niesen was, frankly, a tiny too odd-looking to create it in films -- stocky and rather hard-faced, with an unflattering Prince Valiant hair-do. Still, there are times when (thanks to Joseph Valentine's soft-focus photography) she suggests a younger, 1930s ver of Bette Midler. And she does a rendition of "Where Are You?" ("Where are you?/Where have you gone without me?/I thought you cared about me...") that is absolutely unforgettable. Since Niesen (like Logan) would become a major Broadway star in the 1940s, I suspect that this is a situation where a performer's movie career suffered not from a lack of talent but simply because the camera didn't like her. It's a true hodge-podge and definitely a mixed bag, but "Top of the Town," whatever its faults, is at least never boring. When it's nice it's terrific, and even when it's terrible it's entertaining. As I told before, you'll probably never receive the possibility to see it. But if you do, and if you play 1930s musicals, you won't be sorry you caught up with this one.
'Top of the Town' was low-budget Universal Studios' big-budget attempt to create the best film musical of all time. The result? Some aspects of this film are dazzling, but many another aspects are howlingly bad. Sadly, the terrible outweighs the good.The movie opens with an innovative and enjoyable game sequence, which introduces most of the performers (but not Joyce Compton, who has a larger role than few actors shown here). Then the film plunges into deepest cliché, with a Manhattan road stage accompanied by the hackneyed hustle-bustle melody that accompanies the opening shot in so many big-city movies. (Played on a xylophone, to deepen the cliché.) But actually Doris Nolan arrives, in a Venus-in-Furs rig that immediately got my undivided attention: in furs and kid-leather gauntlets, she strides across the set wielding a prop that can't decide whether it's a walking-stick or a riding-crop.Nolan plays Diana Borden, a dilettante heiress who has just visited Russia and who addresses strangers as 'comrades'. She wants to build the largest poshest nightclub of all time (I guess she got that concept in communist Russia), and she expects her four wealthy uncles to foot the bill.The cast contains few Hollywood stalwarts whom I don't usually associate with Universal. Obscure actor Ray Mayer gives a very impressive performance as the assistant of bandleader George Murphy. Ella Logan was an necessary theatre performer (she starred on Broadway in 'Finian's Rainbow') who made very several films, so I'm glad to see her here.This film is art-directed to a fare-thee-well. The sets are extremely impressive, but too distracting. The overkill is obvious when Ella Logan steps out of an Art Deco taxi cab. This has got to be the only Fresh York Town taxi that doesn't list its rates on the doors; apparently listing the fares would spoil the Art Deco design.En route to this movie's climax are some astonishing musical numbers. Hugh Herbert warbles 'Fireman, Save My Child' while chorines in pyjamas trapeze overhead. Juvenile tap-dancer Peggy Ryan does a virtuoso imitation of Eleanor Powell, although she doesn't do Powell's signature transport (the backbend over her shoulder, touching the floor with her hand). Recurring throughout the movie are a speciality act cried the Three Sailors: a trio of gobs, smacking every another and intertwining their bodies to impersonate camels and another unexpected things. The Three Sailors seem to be a cross between the Stooges and the Ritz Brothers, but with more physical discipline than those acts. I was very impressed by a music-hall turn in which the sailors tap-dance while skipping rope.Diana Borden has no difficulty raising the cash to finance her extravaganza, but she has problem finding performers. (In my experience, it's everytime just the another method round.) She manages to 'meet cute' -- not once, but twice -- with bandleader Ted Lane (George Murphy, better than usual). He wants to mount a traditional musical revue, but spoilt heiress Diana wants to do something 'meaningful'. She sacks all of Murphy's singers and dancers, but they present up at the nightclub anyway to work as waiters and cigarette girls. (Aren't there union guidelines vs this?)SPOILERS COMING. The climax takes zone on one of the most astonishing movie sets I've ever seen: a four-tier nightclub, filled with hundreds of dress extras. This is no miniature, no matte shot. The camera crane dollies from one lvl to the next, in a 360-degree pan that's even more impressive than the opening sequence in 'Touch of Evil'.But what's all this dazzlement for? It all builds to a floor present that's *deliberately* bad, with Russian peasants toiling in the salt mines while blackface minstrels pull faces. Mischa Auer, costumed as Hamlet (and looking amazingly like Conrad Veidt) recites the 'To be or not to be' soliloquy with an uncredited actor's dubbed voice. The nightclubbers are getting nasty. George Murphy signals the wait-staff; they swing into a production number that's *meant* to be nice (but isn't, very much) and all ends happily. This is one of those films in which the leading lady learns she that needs a boy to do her thinking for her, and this is supposed to be a satisfied ending.'Top of the Town' is one of the most unusual films I've ever seen, but that's not entirely favourable. I'll rate this film 6 out of 10.
What seems like an ordinary backstage musical at times ends up like French expressionalism as it goes into spaces that most film musicals avoid. The plot, as slight as most, is a strange and eye widening at tines as it deals with an American heiress (Doris Nolan) who returns to Fresh York after an extended stay in Russia, and channeling Garbo, Dietrich and all their imitators, strives to make a night club strictly for the poor, yet placing it on the 100th floor of a lavish skyscraper. George Murphy is the producer/host of this revue, giving limited tips of a romantic pairing with Nolan.The Three Sailors certainly are the funniest specialty act on screen that I've never heard of, their elastic presence definitely worthy of a several chuckles and a lot of smiles. They do one musical number with a loud mouthed singer who is obviously channeling Martha Raye. I was surprised to explore that this funny lass was none another than Ella Logan who soon originated "How are things in Glocca Mora?" In "Finian's Rainbow" a decade later. The Hugh Herbert lead production number of "Fireman, Save Your Child!", seems like something you might have seen on Broadway or in the soon Universal movie ver of Olsen and Johnson's "Hellzapoppin'". A stage in a speak simple changes the atmosphere drastically, and at times,the mood becomes strangely maudlin. During some if the bizarrely serious musical numbers, audience members create wisecracks, just like the two old boys from " The Muppets".But in spite of this, it's all very lavish, and cute impressive considering that at the time, Universal studios was undergoing some financial issues. Hero actors such as Mischa Auer (playing Hamlet with a black faced chorus!), Claude Gillingwater, Henry Armetta and Gregory Ratoff add spark, while a very young Peggy Ryan starts her long association with Universal. I suppose that newcomer Deanna Durbin was missing and that Karloff and Lugosi would have been an afterthought in casting. Certain elements of this create me wonder if somebody in charge was on some cute powerful hallucinogenics.
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