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Music in the Air (1934) -- delightful fun, but strange?...


Swithin
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I was thinking of *Music in the Air*, a film I like very much, which I don't think has ever been on TCM. Based on a B'way musical, it has an odd assortment of goings-on: a singing Gloria Swanson; Douglass Montgomery running around in lederhosen; Al Shean (Marx Bros.' uncle and half of the Gallagher and Shean team), who learns the show's best song, "I've Told Every Little Star," from a bird; a script partly by Billy Wilder; a score by Kern/Hammerstein; and Marjorie Main's first credited performance! Yet it seems strange, with hindsight, to see all those Germans -- mostly peasant characters -- cavorting, milling around, and having a good time in Bavaria and Munich, the very year Hitler became dictator of Germany! Still, I'd like to see it again.

 

When I was a lad, Linda Scott had an early rock hit with the show's best song:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QYtyyKgqp0

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What's always bothered me most about this film is that it seems to be building up to Swanson's star performance in a show and then never shows it. She's dressed and ready and then it just sort of fizzles out. Swanson and John Boles are a hoor together as the bickering couple, but there's way too much emphasis on Douglass Montgomery and June Lang. In a Swanson film, who cares about them? I wish also there was a better quality copy available.

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Although I think Swanson is fine, I don't consider it her film and so wasn't waiting for her big scene. Maybe for that reason she shouldn't have been cast. In the original Broadway production, Al Shean created the part he played in the film; a young Walter Slezak played the Douglass Montgomery role. I didn't recognize any of the women's names in the stage version. Haven't seen the film in so long, I don't remember the print!

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