PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE (1951), a Warner Bros. musical available from the Warner Archive, was a delightful surprise.
Most reviews I've seen of this movie are only middling, but I have to say this one was totally up my alley. Bright and colorful, with a fantastic mid-20th Century look, and one great song and dance after another. Other than a handful of inexplicable scenes with Wallace Ford, I think I smiled all the way through the movie's 87 minutes. It's even got Tom Conway! My fellow musicals fans should give this one a look.
The movie is a spin on the popular theme of three beautiful girls looking for wealthy husbands. When singer Abby (Lucille Norman) discovers her fiance Vince (Dennis Morgan) hasn't kept his promise to stop gambling, Abby heads from Hollywood for Las Vegas along with Carol (Virginia Mayo) and June (Virginia Gibson). In Vegas the girls are booked to perform at the Golden Egg, owned by Uncle Felix (S.Z. Sakall).
Abby has a rebound romance with dancer Ted (Gene Nelson), who's been keeping a big secret. Abby's still in love with Vince, though, and June is pining for Ted. Meanwhile Carol tries to keep Ted's patrician Uncle Ben (Conway) from breaking up Ted's romance with a lowly performer.
The story is merely an excuse to connect the musical numbers, which are simply terrific. The "Mambo Man" dance with Mayo, Nelson, and Gibson benefits not just from great dancing but clever set design, as the floor lights up in different colors. I loved it!
There was more fantastic dancing with Nelson and Mayo in the steamy "Birth of the Blues," and the final dance with Nelson and Gibson on the Warner Bros. backlot was pure joy.
Throw in Morgan and Norman dueting on "Jealousie" and several other songs, and it's a recipe for fun. Tom Conway joins the cast in singing the final number and has a charming "What the heck am I doing here?" grin on his face.
And the visuals! The set design is terrific, from the interior of the girls' travel trailer to the pink walls of a hotel bedroom to the classic neon signs in Vegas. Anyone who loves '50s design will enjoy watching this film.
It's been great to have the opportunity to catch up with more of Virginia Mayo's '50s films via the Warner Archive, most recently in the brand-new Archive release of THE BIG LAND (1957) and also in an older Archive DVD, SHE'S BACK ON BROADWAY (1953). As a matter of fact, Nelson and Gibson were also in BROADWAY.
PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE was directed by Warner Bros. stalwart David Butler and filmed in Technicolor by Wilfred M. Cline.
PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE was one of the Warner Archive's very first releases, but as I've commented here before, one of the great things about the Archive is that "burned on demand" films never go out of print! The DVD looks fantastic. There are no extras.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.