365 Nights In Hollywood
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A rare look at Alice Faye, the Harlow starlet before the makeover that made her the number one box office star of the day. Alice sings, dances and romances in a musical comedy that gave hope, glamor and happiness to millions during the Great Depression. A
Though now largely forgotten, Alice Faye was once a top box-office star. In one of her earlier films, 365 Nights in Hollywood (1934), Faye plays Alice Perkins, a young woman from Peoria, IL, who meets Jimmy Dale (James Dunn), a former top director now reduced to teaching at a shady talent school. A wealthy sucker, smitten with Alice, agrees to bankroll a movie, so long as she plays the lead; Dale agrees to direct, hoping to revive his lost career--but the con artist who runs the school plans to steal the cash and leave Dale holding the bag. The highlight of 365 Nights in Hollywood are the musical numbers from the movie within the movie, glitzy routines that occasionally verge into the surreal, like a love scene between Tarzan and Mae West! A sprightly, silly romp. --Bret Fetzer
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Best part is at end, when Alice sings----
the quality is not that great. It is good to see Alice Faye before
she became a household name. James Dunn was very underated and i believe
Hollywood could have done more with him
So you'd think this would be a must-have purchase for any lover of art-deco cinema, especially considering the movie's pedigree (long thought lost, last remaining print, rare example from a studio whose back catalog is mostly long since disappeared).
Well - from a purely scholarly point of view it's fairly interesting; in that it's very different from Warners, Paramount or MGM musicals from the same era. It also features a comedy double act (Mitchell & Durant) whose clumsy knockabout slapstick looks so primative to be virually neanderthal (think of Anthony Quinn & Alan Ladd doing a poor imitation of Laurel & Hardy and you'll be close.). Alice Faye is very cute, but given very little to do except emote, plus early on she's asked to do a specific imitation of Jean Harlow (fair enough, Fox were marketing her as their version of the Platinum Blonde, but did they have to be SO blatantly obvious?).
Essentially it's 42nd Street in a studio, with a paired down cast and production values two steps up from a poverty-row production. There's only two proper musical numbers and both are under-rehearsed and unimpressive. You will not be humming the choons/tunes after watching this.
DVD quality is fair, there's some deterioration, but it's the best you'll ever see considering it's the only surviving print. No extras to speak of, except some fun trailers for 50s sci-fi and monster movies.
Although I applaud the fact that a rare musical is, after nearly 70 years once more available to the public, I'd much rather have any number of pre-code musicals available on DVD (any of the Gold-Diggers movies for example) or perhaps some of the long unseen Clara Bow vehicles from her Fox era. It would also be much more preferable to see such Alice Faye vehicles as the original George White's Scandals.
365 Nights in Hollywood fun while it lasts, but with it's forgetable supporting cast and lacklustre production "it just don't cut the mustard". Won't keep you coming back for more and certainly not recommended for those unfamiliar with this era of film-making. I suggest they check out some Busby Berkeley movies, even if it does mean getting them on - gasp! - VHS!!