Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sunny Side Up: David Butler (LFF)

A 1929 film starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, this is considered the first musical that had a story line, albeit a rather
stilted one. It is the 4th of July and preparations for the celebration in Yorkville are contrasted with those at a house party in
Southampton where Farrell, the rich son of Mary Foster, leaves the party in annoyance at the behaviour of his fiancee.
As the Yorkville celebrations reach the evening peak, Farrell drives in and causes a ruckus though this is not his fault as he
has crashed his car to avoid and young girl in the street. He hears Gaynor sing and decides she should go to Southampton to sing at an upcoming charity concert his mother has organised with the aim of having her make his fiancee jealous in the process. He pays for her to be suitable dressed, for her three friends to join her as her servants - butler, maid and chauffeur - and rents the next door mansion for them. The plot succeeds though Gaynor has fallen in love with him so is not too happy at this. On the evening of the concert, one of the local socialites overhears two of the friends let slip that Farrell is
paying the rent next door. The whispers start and, following a bizarre routine with 36 of the local girls dressed in furs before
they appear in swimming costumes and fountains play (shades of Busby Berkeley to come), Marjorie White tells Janet Gaynor to leave immediately. Gaynor does, however, sing her song first and then goes back to Yorkville to mope. She realises she has left her diary behind so she goes off by train while her three friends try to catch up with her by road. For some reason,
White goes to the rented house, finds and reads the diary and realises she has wrongly maligned Gaynor. So it all ends
happily. What is proved without doubt is that Gaynor can neither sing nor dance, Farrell could not act and speak in the same
film and second leads in musicals then seemed to bellow! The songs are standards - Sunny Side Up, If I Had a Talking Picture of You and I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All the main ones - and these save the film from what otherwiss would be well-
deserved oblivion.

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