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JackBurley

Ethel Smith - the organic musician

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TCM is presently playing George White's Scandals (1945), a Joan Davis vehicle that parades a series of artists and their numbers. One of the novelties is Ethel Smith, the organist. I have a set of 78s of Miss Smith pulling out the stops; and have also seen her movie debut, the Esther Williams vehicle Bathing Beauty, where she plays a rollicking version of "Tico Tico". This number is also featured on the "Maracas, Marimbas & Mambos" cd collection of MGM latin hits released by Rhino/TCM.

 

In Scandals she's a guest at the surprise birthday party for Margaret Hamilton's character. There's a delay in the party, and someone suggests that Miss Smith play. "Oh, but I didn't bring my organ!", she replies. Joan Davis to the rescue: "Oh I have one in here. [indicating the living room]". Cue the music! It's all so kitsch, as Miss Smith attempts to make organ playing "hep" by tickling the keys with Gershwin's Liza. Alternating close-ups of the two keyboards and the gam shots of her stomping on the foot pedals. It's dizzying.

 

Has anyone seen her other movie appearances?

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Sorry Jack, I saw the first few minutes of "Scandals" while I was eating lunch today, and left before Ethel Smith performed. I saw the flashback to Joan's youth, with the hilarious dubbed voice on the skinny girl singing "Bowl of Cherries". Wish I'd had the recorder going for the rest of it. Being a lover of music, it's hard to believe that I've waited forty years to appreciate musicals. I'm just starting to watch them, or more likely, miss them as I did this one, because I have no knowledge of what's good or bad. Hopefully TCM will put this one and "Bathing Beauty" on again soon. I'm anxious to hear a swing organist, something I've never heard before.

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Well frankly, patful, this George White's Scandals wasn't that great. Margaret Hamilton fans would be interested, and Wizard of Oz fanatics can watch her play against her old co-star, Jack Haley...

 

I was intrigued because I'd always heard of the famous George White's Scandals -- the annual Broadway revue; as well as the two movies: George White's Scandals (1934) and George White's Scandals of 1935. Alice Faye made her debut in the earlier one, a pre-code musical featuring Miss Faye singing the risque "Oh You Nasty Man". The second movie was the first to really feature Eleanor Powell in the spotlight. I was hoping this 1945 feature would be part of this series, but alas...

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It doesn't necessarily have to be good for me to watch, as long as there's something that might be interesting, such as Ethel Smith's solo. I'm always looking for movies, no matter how bad, with vintage aircraft footage, favorite musicians, rare musical numbers, etc.. History sometimes beats quality in my strange mind. :-)

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