Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Here Come the Waves (1944)

Bing Crosby stars in Paramount Pictures' World War II musical HERE COME THE WAVES (1944).

Bing plays Johnny Cabot, a crooner stalked by swooning young ladies everywhere he goes. His ardent fans include Susie Allison (Betty Hutton), who has a nightclub act with her twin sister Rosemary (also Hutton).

Johnny joins the Navy and the Allison twins join the WAVES, the women's branch of the U.S. Navy. They all end up getting to know one another after being introduced by their mutual friend Windy (Sonny Tufts). Excitable Susie is crazy for Johnny, but he's more attracted to the placid Rosemary.

When Johnny is about to ship out, Susie hatches a plan to keep him stateside a while longer performing in a navy recruiting show. Romantic complications ensue, especially after Susie spends an evening posing as Rosemary, leaving Johnny very confused by her behavior.

HERE COME THE WAVES was a pleasant film; it's nothing especially noteworthy but is 99 minutes of agreeable company, as well as an interesting relic of the WWII era. (The title art, seen here, is beautiful.) It has a solid cast and some good Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer tunes, most notably the Oscar-nominated "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive."

It was a wonderful surprise when "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" turned up in the movie, as I hadn't been aware it originated with this film. Unfortunately it's performed in blackface, which is uncomfortable from a modern viewing perspective -- but what a great song!

Amazingly there were 14 nominees for Best Song that year, including "I'll Buy That Dream" from SING YOUR WAY HOME (1944); a personal favorite, "Anywhere," from TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1944); Jerome Kern and E.Y. Harburg's "More and More" from CAN'T HELP SINGING (1944); and the winner, Rodgers & Hammerstein's "It Might As Well Be Spring" from STATE FAIR (1944).

I've never been a Betty Hutton fan, finding her personality too hyper to be entertaining, but I warmed up to her a little thanks to her strong performance in THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK (1944), released the same year as HERE COME THE WAVES.

While blonde Susie is very much the "Betty Hutton" movie persona, I was frankly surprised how well Hutton pulled off her performance as quiet, dark-haired Rosemary. (She looks a bit like Jane Greer in this role.) If Hutton had played more of her movie roles in that emotional key I probably would have liked her more, though perhaps she would have lost what made her a distinctive personality.

When he's not singing, Crosby tends to take a back seat to the antics of the Huttons, who pull off their two roles with the help of some excellent special effects. The black and white photography was by Charles Lang.

Tufts is adequate as the fourth member of the film's romantic quartet. Ann Doran, always a favorite, and Anabel Shaw (GUN CRAZY), billed as Marjorie Henshaw, play two of the most prominent WAVES. Mona Freeman can be easily spotted as a screaming fan sitting next to the twins at Johnny's concert early in the film. When a group of women attack Johnny while he's standing guard, be on the lookout for Yvonne DeCarlo! She's seen here standing next to Crosby in a photo.

This was the last full-length film directed by Mark Sandrich, who had a heart attack a few days into directing Crosby and Fred Astaire in BLUE SKIES (1946). He was only 44.

I watched a very nice-looking DVD which is part of the five-film Bing Crosby Screen Legend Collection. It's also available in the eight-film Wartime Comedies Collection or as a single title in the Universal Vault Collection. It also had a release on VHS.


Blogger CLM said...

I've got to find this one as one of my special interests is women's war work!

5:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's interesting from that standpoint! Not sure I remember another film with the WAVES. KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY (1945) is a very enjoyable film about women serving in the WACs. I find women's wartime service interesting as well.

There are some very good WWII films on nurses you may already be aware of, such as SO PROUDLY WE HAIL! (1943). Looking beyond WWII to Korea, the hard-to-find FLIGHT NURSE (1953) is one I particularly like.

Best wishes,

10:24 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

That Bing Crosby Screen Legend Collection converted me into a fan of Bing Crosby musicals. I really loved WAIKIKI WEDDING.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm looking forward to delving into the Crosby set more in the future, DforDoom! I'll keep your recommendation of WAIKIKI WEDDING in mind. Thanks!

Best wishes,

10:42 AM  

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