Tin Pan Alley (1940)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.   

USA, 1940Screenplay by , , based on a story by Cinematography by Produced by Music by , Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by Academy Awards 1940.  

The famed New York City street that was once populated by music stores and struggling musicians is the setting for this tuneful revue meant to recapture the success of Alexander’s Ragtime Band and Jack Oakie are two aspiring music promoters who can barely pay their rent until they discover a song by Elisha Cook Jr that they manage to turn into a hit, which then leads to them running a small empire in their town. The two singers who helped make it happen are a sister act, played by Alice Faye and , who go their separate ways when Grable pursues the single life as a star and ends up in London, while Faye falls in love with Payne and lets him use her to sell songs while hoping against hope that he will take the odd night off and buy her a nice dinner.  This pedestrian plot would be repeated again in colour on the west coast in Hello Frisco Hello (with Lynn Bari filling in for Grable) and is tiresome in both cases (why do movies try to make us believe that men would fail in business because their girlfriends leave them?) but thankfully the studio music department outdoes itself and the Oscar-winning score is brimming over with great numbers, from the tunefully sweet “You Say The Sweetest Things”, to the patriotic “America, I Love You”, plus the marvelous “Honeysuckle Rose” performed by Grable.  Curiously, the film ends with a nod to the increasing pressure for World War II enlistment that wasn’t quite ubiquitous in the pre-Pearl Harbor days (other studios were still emphasizing isolationism) and it doesn’t have the pat-happy ending that films of its kind usually feature.

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