Saturday, March 08, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Flirtation Walk (1934)

Tonight was a Dick Powell-Ruby Keeler double bill, pairing 42ND STREET with FLIRTATION WALK, a military-themed musical.

Soldier Dick (Powell) first meets general's daughter Kit (Keeler) in Hawaii. They are attracted to each other but their brief acquaintance doesn't end well. Dick, supported by his fatherly sergeant (Pat O'Brien), decides to apply to West Point and become an officer. Three years later, as Dick is about to graduate, Kit reappears in his life when her father takes command at West Point.

The film is lightweight but entertaining, with pleasant vignettes depicting military camaraderie. There isn't a great deal of music, but there are two very enjoyable, hummable songs in the closing show put on by Dick and his fellow West Point students: "Mr. and Mrs. is the Name" and the title tune. The biggest production number takes place at a grand-scale Hawaiian luau, which manages to incorporate some Berkeley-like designs into the performance of a native song (Berkeley did not work on this film). The marches at West Point also call Berkeley to mind at times.

The Hawaiian and West Point locales are well conveyed, mainly via second unit photography. It was rather interesting that a film made just a handful of years before the Pearl Harbor attack was partially set at Schofield Barracks and opened depicting military manuevers preparing to defend Hawaii.

The supporting cast includes Ross Alexander as Powell's West Point roommate; tragically, Alexander committed suicide in 1937. Henry O'Neill plays Kit's father.

FLIRTATION WALK was directed by Frank Borzage, who also directed HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT, SEVEN SWEETHEARTS, and FLIGHT COMMAND, all reviewed here over the past year (click titles for review links). Borzage's career began as an actor and director in the silent era. The year after FLIRTATION WALK, Borzage reunited with Powell and Keeler for SHIPMATES FOREVER.

The screenplay for FLIRTATION WALK was by Delmer Daves; Daves films reviewed here include THE LAST WAGON and a particular favorite of mine, THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU.

FLIRTATION WALK is available on video; the VHS print I watched was quite nice.

It can also be seen on TCM, which has the trailer available online here.


Blogger Terri said...

You know there really is a flirtation walk at West Point. But Cadets are not allowed PDAs (public displays of affections)...not even holding hands!

5:33 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's a wonderful anecdote, Terri!

Thanks much,

8:57 AM  

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