Friday, April 23, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Flying With Music (1942) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

Time for another Streamliner!

Tonight I dipped into ClassicFlix DVD set The Complete Hal Roach Streamliners Collection, Volume 4: The Musicals to watch FLYING WITH MUSIC (1942).  I previously reviewed the set's ALL-AMERICAN CO-ED (1941).

For those who are new to my Streamliner reviews, these Hal Roach movies are longer than a two-reeler short but shorter than a feature film, typically about 45-50 minutes. In the case of FLYING WITH MUSIC, it runs 46 minutes.

The FLYING WITH MUSIC plot, such as it is, concerns a group of five young ladies, headed by Ann (Marjorie Woodworth), touring South America via a seaplane piloted by Don Terry (William Marshall).

Their guide (Byron Foulger) is replaced by Harry (George Givot), who is on the run from a man (Edward Gargan) Harry thinks is trying to collect alimony payments.

And there's not really much more to the plot of this short little movie, which features several musical numbers. It's an extremely minor film, but even so, I found some things of personal interest. This movie might not have a great deal to offer an average movie-goer, but fans of the era might find it worthwhile from an historical perspective, as I did.

I especially enjoyed the chance to see another film with Streamliners regular Marjorie Woodworth, who was my most-seen actress of 2020 thanks to these films. This is the third Streamliner I've seen her in this year, along with TAXI, MISTER (1943) and PRAIRIE CHICKENS (1943). Woodworth may not be a great actress, but she's quite lovely and I enjoy seeing her in these movies. It's been rather fun to take a deep dive into the career of someone I'd never heard of a couple of years ago!

I also enjoyed the opportunity to see yet another "Good Neighbor Policy" film of the early '40s, one of the movies meant to help strengthen our relations with countries to our south during WWII. I've reviewed many such films here in the past, and it was fun to find this theme even made it into a Streamliner.

Somewhat amazingly, FLYING WITH MUSIC received Oscar nominations for Best Scoring and Best Song. The song, "Pennies for Peppino," is a throwaway number sung by some young children for the tourists; it's pleasant, but certainly not on a par with fellow nominees such as "How About You?" from BABES ON BROADWAY (1942), "Dearly Beloved" from YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942) and "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" from ORCHESTRA WIVES (1942).

The winner? A little number by Irving Berlin called "White Christmas," which first appeared in HOLIDAY INN (1942).

I was most impressed by the staging of "Song of the Lagoon," which is so steamy I'm rather amazed it made it past the censors. All of the film's five songs were written by Edward Ward, Chet Forrest, and Bob Wright.

Marie Windsor, who had an early role in ALL-AMERICAN CO-ED, was said by IMDb to be a "Native Girl" in this, but although I was watching closely I didn't spot her.

The supporting cast includes Claudia Drake, Norma Varden, Jane Kean, Dorothy O'Kelly, Jerry Bergen, and Rita Montoya.

FLYING WITH MUSIC was directed by George Archainbaud. It was filmed in black and white by Robert Pittack.

The ClassicFlix DVD print was excellent, with a strong soundtrack.

I'll be reviewing the final film in the set, FIESTA (1941), at a future date.

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger Rick said...

"Somewhat amazingly, FLYING WITH MUSIC received Oscar nominations for Best Scoring and Best Song."

This is pretty amazing until one looks at the rules in those days. From '37-45, each studio could name the score to any one of their pictures from that year and it got an automatic nomination. That's why you'll find some odd nominations in those years, such as the scores to BLOCK-HEADS, SHE MARRIED A COP, ONE MILLION B.C., KING OF THE ZOMBIES and TANKS A MILLION.

In the case of Best Song, until the 1945 awards, there was no limit on the number of songs which could be nominated, so some oddities slipped in there too.

Imagine if 18 or 20 songs per year were nominated for today's Academy Awards and each was performed during the Oscars' broadcast. It would take so long that one year's ceremony would just lead right into the next one.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Rick! Thanks so much for that, and adding to all our knowledge of the Best Song Oscar process. Interesting stuff! Glad to understand better how a jingle like "Pennies for Peppino" ended up alongside classics from the Great American Songbook.

Best wishes,

7:07 PM  

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