I think we can all admit that we have had the dream while singing into a hairbrush and dancing around the room to our favorite songs that we were famous singers on stage singing to huge crowds. I remember after I had watched Kelly Clarkson win American Idol (yes, I am that old and have been her fan for that long) I would pretend I was singing along to my favorite songs as if I was on the show (and I was fourteen…). We all have dreams of being singers whether solo or in a band. We get those dreams from stories throughout the history of music or from movies about how some people are plucked from obscurity either by luck or fate. One film that could aid in our imagination of being a famous singer is the Pre-Code Crooner from 1932. I know it certainly set me imagination going!
Ted Taylor is a saxophone player in a band. They struggle to find jobs and play wherever they can. The band finally finds a gig in a nightclub in New York. The singer for the band gets a sore throat after staying out all night. They need a singer and the only one who can sing decently besides him turns out to be Ted. Out on the stage Ted does not have the volume to really sing and as a joke one of the patrons at the club gives Ted a megaphone. After that the whole club can hear him and he actually has a really nice voice. All the ladies in the nightclub cannot help but gape and stare.
Ted goes to see his old college friend Judy Mason (Ann Dvorak). He tells her all about his singing and how well he did. Judy has a friend named Peter Sturgis who is a talent manager with some successful acts under his belt. The nightclub is packed because of Ted. Peter tells Judy that he is not crazy about Ted but he can see that he can build Ted up. The night Peter is in the nightclub is the night that the band’s contract with the club’s owner Myer is up. Peter comes in just in time to negotiate and throw out the contract with Myer.
A few weeks later, Ted has not heard from Peter. Judy tells Ted to relax that Peter is out looking for the best possible deal for him. Thinking about his band who need to eat and work goes back to Myer to sign a decent contract. Again Peter shows up just in time to stop Ted from signing.
Peter gets the band, or specifically Ted, a few good places and they become very popular. They wind up back at Myer’s club but as a big time act making a lot more money. Over time Ted becomes very popular with the ladies and that popularity goes to his head big time. He becomes a snob about everything. His downfall comes when he faked having a sore throat and his doctor signing off to go on vacation for a rest. Instead of going to the mountains the press found out the truth that Ted was on a yacht of a married rich woman. When he resumes singing at the nightclub the crowd heckles him and a big fight breaks out.
A few months later Ted is a nobody back to playing saxophone in another band. He hears on the radio that Judy is going to marry Peter. He calls at her apartment to wish her good luck. Peter can see that she is still in love with Ted no matter how much she says she is not. In the end Peter arranges it so that Judy and Ted meet up at a restaurant and, of course, they wind up back together.
Crooner was not too bad. Every time Ted sang into the megaphone I thought of the scene in Singin’ in the Rain that is a mash up of a whole bunch of songs (if you know Singin’ in the Rain well you will know what I am talking about…. Maybe). Ted was a lucky bastard with his getting famous! What an awesome twist of fate! But I would not want his big headedness at all. I watched Crooner because Ann Dvorak is in it and I like her a lot she was a very good actress who I believe is totally underrated. She was good in the small amount of scenes she had. If you are a fan of classic films or a fan of Ann Dvorak Crooner is worth watching at least once. It is available to view in full on YouTube.