I recently watched a pair of flicks on Warner Archive Blu-ray that hit the spot as far as being just right as comfort watches. Lullaby of Broadway (1951) and The Thin Man Goes Home (1944) aren’t the best vehicles for their stars, but they’re pleasant, well-crafted films.
Lullaby of Broadway is an odd grab-bag of a film. Its soundtrack ranges from the mediocre to the magnificent, with tunes from George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and the team of Harry Warren and Al Dubin at the top of the heap. The same holds true for the cast, with Doris Day doing her usual impeccable job and Warner Bros. favorites like S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall and Gladys George achieving typically fine character work, but Gene Nelson flopping as a bland, if light-footed partner to Day.
The musical about a performer (Day) who learns of her mother’s (George) fall from Broadway star to alcoholism and finds love and stardom of her own along the way will please fans of its star. While it isn’t among her best productions, she is always at her best as a performer. While Day has no chemistry with Nelson, they have their moments on the dance floor. An energetic rehearsal room number shows the two at their playful best; it tops their performance together on the stage later in the film.
An unusual number featuring Constance De Matiazzi as a “mechanical doll” is a bizarre delight and basically nails the random, but essentially enjoyable vibe of the film.
Special features on the disc include a trailer for the film and a menu that links directly to the songs.
The Thin Man Goes Home is the fifth entry in the popular series starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. It marks a transition for the films, being the first not directed by W.S. Van Dyke, as the filmmaker had passed on the year before.
While it is populated by the usual fascinating cast of characters, including Anne Revere, Lucile Watson, and Gloria DeHaven in an amusing comic turn, it doesn’t have quite the energy of previous entries in the series. This is primarily because there’s never a true feeling of peril in the story. Everyone just seems to be on vacation. There isn’t a classic moment or key scene of hilarity as with the other films.
There isn’t a bad Thin Man film though. The characters, and the stars, are always appealing. While it is only slightly satisfactory as a stand-alone film, it is decent as a part of the whole series.
Special features on the disc include the Robert Benchley comedy short Why Daddy?, a theatrical trailer and a cartoon featuring the hideous Screwball Squirrel.
Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copy of the film for review.
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