George White's 1935 Scandals
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When George White, a Broadway producer, is lured into a small southern town he comes across a theatrical showing of his play. After seeing the play, he falls for one of its star singers and offers her a chance to come to New York City to work for him. A follow-up to George White's Scandals (1934), the film stars Alice Faye, James Dunn, Ned Sparks and Eleanor Powell.
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I'm just happy that some one at Fox finally wised up to the fact that there are people out there who love their roster of actors from the 1930s and who are willing to fork over money to buy these DVDs.
That said, George White's Scandals of 1935 is basically Fox Films' (before they were 20th Century Fox) version of MGM'S "The Ziegfeld Follies", but with a different story line. Two struggling vaudevillians (James Dunn and Alice Faye) are discovered when Broadway impresario George White gets off a Florida bound train and discovers a small town shyster is using his name to put over a show. The real George White (no kind of actor but better than most non-actors) appears as himself.
James Dunn, best known in Shirley Temple films (and wonderful in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn") is very capable as a song and dance man. At this point in time, Fox had Alice Faye in her Jean Harlow - look, which (than goodness) they abandoned once Darryl F. Zanuck took over.
Probably the most notable song is "Nasty Man", which I'm sure was quite controversial at the time!
As with all the Fox Cinema Archives DVDs, there are no extras: no chapter index, no fancy inserts, no commentaries, no extras of any kind - just the movie.
The rest of this film is mediocre at best. George White's dancing girls are not as pretty as Busby Berkeley's, and they can't dance very well either. Obviously, Fox Film Corporation, which later merged with 20th Century Pictures to form 20th Century-Fox, was desparately trying to copy the success of the Warner Brothers Berkeley musicals, but failed.
I only give this movie two stars (except for Ellie's dance, which is five stars).
This DVD was manufactured by Loving The Classics (LTC), an online firm that specializes in copying public-domain (out-of-copyright) films for fans and collectors. When I played the disc, it started with a homemade menu, much like you or I would make for one of our own DVDs. When I started to play the movie, the 20th Century-Fox fanfare was partially cut off, and there were several scenes when the film broke and the screen went black for a moment, then restarted again. At the end of the film, there was another surprise: a promo for Movies From Fox (fxM), now known as the Fox Movie Channel, with a plug for their next picture, a 1985 Candace Bergen TV-movie called MURDER: BY REASON OF INSANITY, and then the video picture switched to the beginning of another TV-movie from 1996, GIANT MINE. I had never heard of either of these titles, and had to look them up online to obtain information about them.
Obviously, this copy of GEORGE WHITE'S 1935 SCANDALS came from a movie buff who had taped the film off the air from the Fox Movie Channel, and then LTC transferred it to a DVD-R. The picture and sound quality are so poor that Reveille with Beverly, which I also purchased from Amazon, through LTC, looks pristine by comparison.
When purchasing public-domain movies from Amazon.com, an Amazon Merchant, directly from LTC, or any other Web site, please remember that since the movies are out of copyright and that the original negatives are unavailable, or may not exist at all, you may get a copy of an out-of-print commercial VHS transferred to a homemade DVD, or a copy obtained from a collector who taped it off the air from TV, as this movie was. Lesson: you get what you pay for.
I don't think that 20th Century-Fox should waste time restoring this mediocre film. There are two other Fox musicals that I would rather see released on official DVDs: Shirley Temple's Poor Little Rich Girl, and Glenn Miller's first film, Sun Valley Serenade, which have only been released on VHS in this country, though non-compatible DVD versions (here and here) have been issued in Europe.
UPDATE: I just ordered, and received, the official release of this movie from the 20th Century-Fox Cinema Archives imprint. Fortunately, the quality is much better (see my review of that version).
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