Saturday, October 05, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Melody Cruise (1933) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MELODY CRUISE (1933) is an engaging RKO musical which was released on DVD earlier this year by the Warner Archive.

The movie distinguishes itself immediately with a creative "winter" montage as the film begins, with various sounds such as shoveling ice creating a "musical" number in and of themselves. The sequence culminates with a train conductor singing a very long "All aboard!" as sun-hungry travelers get on a westbound train.

Playboy Alan Chandler (Phil Harris) ultimately ends up on a cruise with his friend Pete (Charlie Ruggles). Alan has a creative idea to make sure he doesn't succumb to the temptation of marriage while on the cruise: He sends Pete's wife (Marjorie Gateson) a letter detailing Pete's indiscretions, with instructions to only open it if Alan gets married. That way Pete will make sure Alan doesn't wed!

The problem, of course, is that Alan meets Laurie (Helen Mack), a sweet schoolteacher, and finally convinces her that he's serious about settling down and getting married. But what to do about the letter?

That's pretty much the plot, but what distinguishes the film are various classy and creative touches. As with the winter sequence, the film utilizes sound effects and montages to creative unique moments, including a series of scenes with Alan and Laurie in front of back projections of various California tourist spots. The editing is also especially good, with moments such as a falling vase dissolving into crashing cymbals on a drum set.

Films set on cruise ships are about as much fun for me as train movies, so I especially appreciated the extended time on board the gorgeous ship. There's also some enjoyably racy pre-Code dialogue, and to top it off, there's even an ice skating ballet! All in all, this 76-minute film is a fun watch.

It's almost hard to recognize the young Phil Harris, seen here in his first credited feature role. He and Mack, who was Harold Lloyd's sister in THE MILKY WAY (1936), are on the bland side -- I also find her a bit too sour -- but they're surrounded by an enjoyable and energetic cast, headed by the always-amusing Ruggles. There's even a Betty Grable sighting as a cruise ship stewardess! She's seen in this still second from the left, in the front row.

The supporting cast also includes Greta Nissen, June Brewster, Shirley Chambers, Chick Chandler, and Florence Roberts.

This movie was directed by Mark Sandrich, who headed up several classic Astaire-Rogers films, not to mention Astaire and Bing Crosby's HOLIDAY INN (1942). The movie was filmed by Bert Glennon.

The songs are by Val Burton and Will Jason; Jason was also known for directing numerous shorts.

The print and sound quality are good; the print is slightly soft but very acceptable for the film's age, with no major defects. There are no extras on the disc.

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger barrylane said...

Beautiful 'little' picture. Cut, shot and conceived to perfection. Played pretty well too, especially by Marjorie Gateson and Phil Harris.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Glad to know you enjoyed it! Just sent it off to my dad to check it out, it was mentioned in Jeanine Basinger's new book on musicals which he is currently reading.

Best wishes,

11:54 PM  

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