The Betty Grable Collection Vol. 1 – DVD Review


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Down Argentina Way (1940)

20th Century Fox presents Down Argentina Way. Written by Darrell Ware and Karl Tunberg. Running Time: 88 minutes. Not Rated.

Director:

Irving Cummings

Cast:

Don Ameche……….Ricardo Quintana
Betty Grable……….Glenda Crawford
Charlotte Greenwood……….Binnie Crawford
Henry Stephenson……….Don Diego Quintana
Carmen Miranda……….Herself

Moon Over Miami (1941)

20th Century Fox presents Moon Over Miami. Written by Vincent Lawrence and Brown Holmes. Based on the play by Stephen Powys. Running Time: 91 minutes. Not Rated.

Director:

Walter Lang

Cast:

Don Ameche……….Phil ‘Mac’ McNeil
Betty Grable……….Kathryn ‘Kay’ Latimer
Robert Cummings………..Jeffrey ‘Jeff’ Boulton II
Carole Landis……….Barbara Latimer
Jack Haley……….Jack O’Hara
Charlotte Greenwood……….Aunt Susan ‘Sue’ Latimer
Cobina Wright……….Connie Fentress

My Blue Heaven (1950)

20th Century Fox presents My Blue Heaven. Written by Lamar Trotti and Claude Binyon. Based on a story by S.K. Lauren. Running Time: 96 minutes. Not Rated.

Director:

Henry Koster

Cast:

Betty Grable……….Kitty Moran
Dan Dailey……….Jack Moran

The Dolly Sisters (1945)

20th Century Fox presents The Dolly Sisters. Written by John Larkin and Mariah Spitzer. Running Time: 114 minutes. Not Rated.

Director:

Irving Cummings

Cast:

Betty Grable……….Yansci ‘Jenny’ Dolly
June Haver……….Roszika ‘Rosie’ Dolly
John Payne……….Harry Fox
Frank Latimore……….Irving Netcher
S.Z. Sakall……….Uncle Latsie Dolly
Robert Middlemass……….Oscar Hammerstein

The Collection:

The Musical is a special kind of film really in a league all it’s own. No matter what the story there are always certain things that are taken with no question. For example, every main character can sing, dance and more often than not play an instrument of some kind. The Musical also exists in a world all it’s own where people bursting into song for no reason and it’s completely accepted and even enjoyed by everyone around. There is a certain kind of carefree aloofness to these films. No one is ever in danger, everyone is having a good time and they want you to know it.

The first of four films, Down Argentina Way is a fun little romantic romp. Glenda wants to buy one of the Quintana’s horses from Ricardo, there’s only one problem. Her last name is Crawford and way back when her dad and Don Diego had a fight and Don Diego refuses to sell the horse to her. Despite his father’s urgings Ricardo falls in love with Glenda. A few merry songs are sung, Carmen Miranda sings in her first North American film appearance and everything leads up to the big horse race at the end of the film.

There are two types of musicals: The first kind use the songs to move the plot forward and reveal things about the characters (see West Side Story), the second kind just have fun little songs thrown in seemingly there just to push out the length of the film. Down Argentina Way is the later, the characters continually find themselves in nightclubs and parties where people are always singing. If flows seamlessly into the film and doesn’t seem distracting like some musicals do. Not to mention the songs in this film are fun, and to see Carmen Miranda sing is a nice treat.

The story is simple and silly with no real danger of anything bad happening, but that’s not the point to these kinds of films. Grable and Ameche have great chemistry together on screen, when you see them together you believe in love at first sight!

Next up is Moon Over Miami where Grable once again with teaming up with Greenwood and Ameche (this is a mix of both kinds of Musical where people sing just to sing and people sing to express their feelings). Sisters Kay & Barbara and their aunt Susan inherit $4,000 from a dead relative and use it to start their get rich scheme. They go to Miami to pretend to be rich so Kay can marry a millionaire. Kay meets Jeff Boulton II & Phil McNeil; two rich men who both fall for her and begin to playfully vie for her affection. Chalk full of submarine rides, boat races, hyjinx, and song after song after song, this a fun little film.

My Blue Heaven is the next film (no, not the one with Steve Martin although they use the same song). In this one husband and wife radio team, Kitty and Jack are making there way to the newest medium, television! On top of that they are working on starting a family but after an accident won’t allow Kitty to have children they look into adoption. This is the best film in the set mixing moments of comedy with great dramatic scenes as Kitty and Jack try to get a child. This film seems to be more focused on the plot allowing most the songs to come in as it ties to their radio and television shows. There’s some real emotional & dramatic tension here and you find yourself invested in the actual characters more so than the other films. Plus you get some great insight into a time when television was still an infant.

The final film in this whimsical collection, The Dolly Sisters, follows the climb to the top of this sister vaudeville act and the men they fall in love with. What little story there is here is told in a very choppy way, jumping from moment to moment with very little in way of transition. There seems to be more songs here than plot, though it does have a great car crash in it. Still, all in all, a fun little film.

Betty Grable really is a fantastic and incredibly beautiful actress and this first volume highlights some of her finest moments. This collection is rare treat in that there isn’t a bad film in the set. If you enjoy one of these films you’ll enjoy them all.

Over-All Score: 8.0/10 (Down Argentine Way: 8.0/10, Moons Over Miami: 8.0/10, My Blue Heaven: 8.5/10, The Dolly Sisters: 8/10.)


Grable and Ameche: a popular 40’s on screen couple!

The DVD:

The Video:

These films are presented in Full screen. These films are colored by Technicolor giving them all a kind of hyper real look, very vibrant and colorful, all these films have been digitally remastered and look fantastic!

Score:10/10

The Audio:

These films are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sound great.

Score:10/10

Extras:

Collectable Lobby Cards: Each film comes with four of these. Neat for collectors I guess.

Photo gallery: Each film has one of these too.

Original Theatrical Trailer: These exist for Down Argentina Way and The Dolly Sisters. There is a “special feature” on each disc called Betty Grable Theater which is just these two trailers.

Betty Grable: Behind The Pin-Up: This appears on the Down Argentina Way disc. This is a great documentary about the life of Betty Grable. Her over bearing mother, her climb to the top. It’s talks about how poplar she was during WWII and how she was not only the #1 pin-up girl but the highest paid woman in Hollywood and she had her legs insured for one million dollars! It also talks about how when Marilyn Monroe came on the scene Betty took her under her wing and showed her the ropes and encouraged her. Betty Grable was not only a great actress but a great all around woman.

Fox Movietone News Footage: This is footage from the Chicago Premiere of The Dolly Sisters. This is really great. Not only to see what movie premiere’s used to be like, but it’s fun to see these old newsreels as well.

Audio Commentary for Down Argentina Way by noted film historian Sylvia Stoddard: Why is it always necessary to point out that the film historians are noted? You get all sorts of knowledgeable tidbits like this film is a remake of a 1938 film called Kentucky, which starred Loretta Young. I have a problem with these “film historian” commentaries. Sure, you learn a lot but without having someone who was there during the making of the film you don’t get any of the personal stories that generally make commentaries worthwhile.

Audio Commentary for My Blue Heaven & The Dolly Sisters by noted film historian Drew Casper: If this pompous ass says “unjustifiably overlooked” one more time I’m going to march right down to USC and… bite my tongue, bite my tongue. Seriously though, this guy is really annoying to listen to and he says very redundant things like seeing Betty Grable’s name in the credits tells us this is a Betty Grable movie, duh! Or when the line of the opening song of My Blue Heaven says “and baby makes three,” this tell us the movie will be about family, double duh! Why they let him do two commentaries is beyond me!

New Essay: Each DVD comes with a three page essay written by “noted” film historian Sylvia Stoddard, these are chalk full of good info and you don’t have to sit through a whole commentary to get it.

Score:8/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Betty Grable Collection Vol. 1
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE COLLECTION

8.0
THE VIDEO

10
THE AUDIO

10
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8
(NOT AN AVERAGE)