Frank Morgan

Rosalie 1937

Rosalie (1937)

Princess Rosalie of Romanzia (Eleanor Powell) doesn’t care much about her status. While studying at Vassar, she keeps her title a secret and enjoys doing normal college student things like going to football games. She has a big crush on Dick Thorpe (Nelson Eddy), a Cadet at West Point and top football player on their team. When they meet at a party, he falls in love with her too, not having any clue who she really is, and he agrees to meet her again in Romanzia.

He also doesn’t realize that Rosalie’s father, the King (Frank Morgan), has already announced her engagement to Prince Paul (Tom Rutherford). Rosalie doesn’t love Paul and Paul is more interested in Rosalie’s friend Brenda (Ilona Massey). Determined to not miss their date, even if it means getting in trouble at school, he flies all the way to Europe to meet up with her. He’s greeted with a hero’s welcome by the King himself, who invites him to come enjoy the big festival going on. At the festival, who else would he see doing an elaborate dance performance but Rosalie?

At first, Dick is thrilled to be reunited with Rosalie, but it isn’t long before he finds out the truth about who she is and who she’s engaged to. Before she can explain that she doesn’t love Paul at all, he leaves her to fly back to West Point. But Rosalie isn’t about to give up that easily and follows him back.

If Eleanor Powell wasn’t dancing, Rosalie did nothing for me. The story wasn’t anything remarkable; it didn’t hold my interest and it felt like it went on for way too long. And I had to take off even more points for all the scenes of Frank Morgan with that creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. The only things I liked about Rosalie were Eleanor Powell’s dance numbers, which were absolutely dazzling. Her number dancing to the song “Rosalie” is certainly one of the all-time greats. Rosalie was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, famously nicknamed “One Take Van Dyke,” and I would love to know how many takes were involved in the filming of that scene.

The Half Naked Truth (1932)

While working as the publicity man for a two-bit carnival, Jimmy Bates (Lee Tracy) decides that the best way to drum up some business is through a little good old fashioned speculation and controversy. When he announces that dancer Teresita(Lupe Velez) will name the man in town who fathered her and left her mother years ago during one of her performances, not only do people show up to get the dirt, a few men also slip him some money to keep their names out of it.

The police also take an interest in the story, but when they find out the whole stunt is a sham, they shut down the whole carnival and Bates, Teresita, and their friend Achilles (Eugene Pallette) jump in a car and head to New York.  Bates has promised Teresita that he’s going to turn her into a big star, so as soon as they make it to the city, he hits the ground running building hype for Teresita.  He brings them to the Ritz and convinces them that she’s a Turkish princess and they are given a nice suite.

Bates resorts to all sorts of crazy publicity stunts to get the newspapers talking about this mysterious princess. Merle Farrell (Frank Morgan) is the big Broadway producer in town and he’s flabbergasted when Bates tells the press that the princess will be starring in Farrell’s new show.  But when ticket sales increase, Farrell decides to go along with it. On opening night, Teresita’s dance is not a hit with the audience, so Bates stops the show, telling the crowd the dance was too sacred to be performed in public. He has Teresita sing a song instead and she becomes an overnight sensation. She’s now a star and Bates has a new gig as Farrell’s publicity man.

Even though Bates is in love with Teresita, she loses interest in him and starts setting her sights on Farrell instead. When Bates finds out about it, he takes some incriminating pictures of them together, and uses them to blackmail Farrell into giving a spot in his show to another girl he’s determined to turn into a big star.  With the public losing interest in Teresita, she and Achilles lose interest in New York so when he decides to buy the carnival they had worked at before, she leaves with him.  But New York just isn’t the same without those two and it isn’t long before Bates finds himself back at the carnival right where he started.

The Half Naked Truth is amusing, but not great. It’s the kind of movie I’m glad I saw once, but it’s not the sort of thing I’d go out of my way to watch again.  I got some laughs out of it, I liked the cast, but there wasn’t anything about it that impressed me so much that it became one of my favorites.

Bombshell (1933)


It isn’t easy being a silver screen sensation!  Lola Burns (Jean Harlow) sure knows how hard it can be, she can’t go anywhere without someone wanting something from her.  She gets up in the morning and realizes that her fleet of cars is being used by everyone but her.  Then there’s her freeloading lush of a  father (Frank Morgan) who stays out all night and comes home still drunk from the night before.  Her father’s always hitting her up for money to bail her brother (Ted Healy) out of his gambling debts in Tijuana.  When she shows up at the studio for work, she’s greeted by fans wanting autographs, which she’ll gladly sign.  And then there’s E.J. Hanlon (Lee Tracy), the head of the publicity department, who never tires of concocting scandals about Lola to feed to the press.  It’s exhausting just trying to keep up with all these demands!

Deep down, Lola is ready to quit the movies and just be a normal woman.  After Hanlon comes up with a particularly ridiculous scandal for Lola, she writes to the studio head and threatens to quit if Hanlon isn’t fired.  In an attempt to make Lola think he’s truly sorry, he arranges an interview for her with Ladies Home Companion magazine to give her a chance to show her domestic side.  After talking to the woman from Ladies Home Companion, Lola really starts to feel maternal and heads down to the orphanage to look into adoption.  She finds a baby boy she’d like to adopt and sets up an appointment for people from the orphanage to come visit her at home.  Lola desperately wants to make a good impression, but Hanlon personally sees to it that their meeting is a total disaster.  He not only sends a bunch of reporters to her house, he also sends over a couple of Lola’s rival lovers over at the same time.

After a huge fight breaks out, Lola decides she’s had enough of everybody.  She announces she’s quitting the movies and sneaks away to a resort out in the desert.  But she soon finds out there’s no escape from Hanlon, who manages to track her down.  While she’s out horseback riding, she meets Gifford Middleton (Franchot Tone), who comes from a wealthy family in Boston.  He’s not into the movies, so he’s totally oblivious to who she is and her reputation.  Lola quickly falls in love with him and agrees to marry him.  Just as she’s ready to meet his very proper family, her father and brother show up at the resort.  Lola warns them to be on their best behavior, but of course, that doesn’t happen.  Then when the Middletons find out who she is, they want nothing to do with her and Lola is so furious that she decides to return to the screen out of spite!

Bombshell is generally regarded as one of Jean Harlow’s signature movies, but for me, it fell just a tad flat.  I love that Jean was game for making fun of herself and I think it was pretty bold of her to be in a movie that made fun of her own freeloading relatives.  I can’t help but think that she probably enjoyed living through her character in the scene where Lola tells off her parasitic family and staff.  Jean was good in this movie, but I felt the movie was sort of overtaken by the supporting cast.  Frank Morgan was particularly awesome as Lola’s father, but then when Lola’s brother comes into the picture and Frank gets to do some scenes with Ted Healy, they made an excellent pair of leeches.  And who can forget Lola’s pack of sheepdogs always being led in at the most inopportune times?  Bombshell is a screwball comedy through and through, so it goes without saying that it’s fast-paced and zany.  It’s one of those movies that movies that I had to watch a couple of times to catch everything that happens.

Overall, if you’re a Jean Harlow fan, Bombshell is definitely required viewing.  I didn’t think it was bad, just a little overrated.  It was funny, but Libeled Lady was a better comedy as a whole.