Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lady Be Good (1941)

Lady Be Good is a film I have wanted to see for a while because Eleanor Powell is in it and if you follow this blog you will know I am a huge fan of Eleanor Powell. I can watch the woman dance all day she was amazing and always blows my mind every time I watch one of her numbers. Lately I have also become a huge fan of Ann Sothern so Lady Be Good was so much fun to sit through. Besides Powell and Sothern Lady Be Good is an enjoyable MGM musical.
            The film starts off with Dixie Crane (Sothern) on the witness stand in court being asked about her husband Eddie (Robert Young). Dixie and Eddie wrote songs together. The story flashes back to how she became Eddie writing partner. He had been working with someone and that person was not working for him. Dixie had been brought up to where Eddie was working. He played some of his tune he had written and she came up with lyrics for it. After this meeting Dixie quit her job as a waitress in a restaurant and soon she and Eddie were married.
            Back in court her friend Marilyn (Powell) is asked to testify. She is best friends with Dixie and Eddie. She is a dancer and was in one of their shows. Marilyn testifies that her friends’ relationship flopped because Eddie went Park Avenue and their friends were divided between the people who knew them and now after they were famous. Again the story flashes back to a party. At this party was more concerned with the rich people that were there. Dixie got fed up with Eddie. She tells him “Let’s shake hands and call it quits.” Dixie wants to work and not stand around with the people he likes. Eddie does not even put up a fight he does not even contest the divorce and does not show up to court.
            After the divorce Eddie is all alone in his apartment. His room is messy because the servants quit. He calls Dixie to come over. She gets excited and goes right over. They make small talk. They realize they still love each other. Eddie confesses he just called her over to help him to call an employment agency for new servants. Dixie starts cleaning for him and as she is cleaning Eddie plays a new song he has written. Dixie gets idea for lyrics as he plays.
            Eddie and Dixie’s friend Red (Red Skelton) meets up with their friend Buddy Crawford who sings all their songs. Red meets with Buddy and Dixie at a club. Eddie finds out that Dixie is out with Buddy at the club. Bill goes to the club with some of his new friends. He finds Bill after he has performed their new song and he punches him saying that Dixie is his wife. He wants Dixie to leave with him and when she says no he storms out. The next day he sends her several things of flowers. Eddie goes to her place she shares with Marilyn. Marilyn is the only one home. Dixie comes back when Eddie is still there. He pleads with her to write songs with him again. That night they write a new song together.
            Their new song “Lady Be Good” becomes a gigantic hit. After a party Eddie asks Dixie to get married again. Dixie does not want to figuring they work well as writing partners not as a married couple. Marilyn, with Buddy’s help, wants to get Eddie and Dixie back together. She wants Buddy to make Eddie jealous by sending Dixie a diamond ring figuring “When she gets the ring she thinks it will be from Eddie.” Buddy comes over after Marilyn gets the ring. Marilyn was on the phone with Eddie. She tells him about the ring. Eddie freaks out and says he is coming over to the apartment with a gun. When Eddie comes over Marilyn covers for Dixie who is hiding in the apartment and says that Buddy is there to see her. Eddie leaves but he tries to sneak quietly back in. Marilyn knows Eddie came back in and pretends to passionately kiss Buddy. Buddy starts to get fresh with Marilyn and she calls for Dixie to come and help her. Eddie is upset with Dixie but they talk things out. They eventually get married again.
            Dixie wants to work on a new show right away while Eddie wants to go on a honeymoon. She tells him she will live with Marilyn while they work on the new show. Dixie wants to get divorced again. The judge does not give them a divorce this time since they got back together the last time. This time things work out for Dixie and Eddie.
            The story sounds like a melodrama but trust me it is much better than I have explained it. There were very cute scenes with all the characters and some funny lines.
            I loved this cast. Before this film I had only ever seen Ann Sothern in Maisie Goes to Reno where she was this tough chick with a wonderful attitude and was so funny. In this film Sothern is more serious but completely wonderful. Robert Young in the films I have seen him in has been charming and perfect. I liked him and Sothern together they made a great pair (I had seen this film before I saw Young and Sothern in Maisie. I was very happy to see them together again in Maisie). Eleanor Powell gets top billing but she is barely in the film. Her first dance number does not come until over ten minutes into the film. Powell in her few scenes was very good. I liked her with character with the character of Buddy Crawford. Powell was adorable and cute plotting to get Dixie and Eddie back together. She had two great numbers in this film. The first number was the dance version of “Lady Be Good” where she dances with a dog. According to IMDB Powell did not like the dogs that the studio had auditioned so she bought a dog off a propman and trained the dog to do the dance herself. The dog was fantastic if the story is true Powell did a great job training it. The second is one of my favorite dances I have seen Powell do. The dance is called Fascinatin’ Rhythm. It starts off with Powell tap dancing to the beat of a few pianos with her taps providing another beat. It is so amazing. I had seen the number before I saw the film and I was floored. Powell’s dancing was just brilliant no female dancer then or now can compare to her. Red Skelton, Virginia O’Brien, and Lionel Barrymore are barely in the film, even less than Eleanor Powell. O’Brien plays Red’s girlfriend who eats all the time (a girl after my own heart) and sings one song. Lionel Barrymore is the judge so he really only has three scenes in the whole film.

            Lady Be Good has now become one of my favorite classic films and one of my favorite musicals. I just enjoyed every minute of it. I loved the music, Eleanor Powell’s dancing, Ann Sothern’s acting (and even her singing. She sang the song “The Last Time I Saw Paris”), Robert Young’s adorableness, the story, the costumes, just everything about it. Lady Be Good is currently available on DVD in a pack along with Born to Dance (which is also an entertaining musical with Eleanor Powell). Powell’s dance numbers are available to view on Youtube. If you are a fan of MGM’s musicals you will enjoy Lady Be Good