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Step Lively/Higher And Higher [DVD]

Frank Sinatra , Michèle Morgan , Tim Whelan    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: £4.80 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Step Lively/Higher And Higher [DVD] + A Hole In The Head [DVD] + Meet Danny Wilson [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Frank Sinatra, Michèle Morgan, George Murphy, Jack Haley, Adolphe Menjou
  • Directors: Tim Whelan
  • Producers: Tim Whelan, Robert Fellows
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 7 May 2007
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MGB0TC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,609 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Double bill of 1940s musicals starring Frank Sinatra. In 'Step Lively' (1944), Broadway producer Gordon Miller (George Murphy) is broke and cannot afford to pay his enormous hotel bill. He needs to put on a revue in order to make enough money to clear his debts, and so plans to use a script by young playwright Glenn Russell (Sinatra). When Russell arrives at the hotel, he soon becomes infatuated with Miller's girlfriend, Christine (Gloria De Haven). Sinatra made his acting debut in the 1943 film 'Higher and Higher'. When a well-known socialite (Leon Errol) goes bankrupt, his valet (Jack Haley) hits upon a scheme to restore his fortunes and save his mansion. They persuade the scullery maid (Michele Morgan) to pose as his daughter, and then court and marry a wealthy young man (Sinatra).


Step Lively

Step Lively is based on the hit Broadway farce Room Service, which had already served as a Marx Brothers vehicle by the time it got this 1944 re-do. The breathless plot is about a theater producer trying to close a deal while staying ahead of some hand-wringing hotel managers, who would understandably like to be paid for putting up his entourage while rehearsals are in session. A variety of songs and dances are crammed into this laboured structure, some of delivered in the sweet youthful tones of Frank Sinatra (as a playwright who also happens to sing like an angel). The impresario is played by George Murphy, a light-footed dancer at his most obnoxious here (he was a future U.S. Senator from California), and the impatient hotel managers are Adolphe Menjou and a deadpan Walter Slezak. The songs are by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, and Sinatra gets to croon "As Long as There's Music," but by the time the show-stoppers from the stage musical take over, the movie has gone way, way over the top. The early look at skinny Frankie is worth it, but you have to have a high tolerance for noise to endure the rest. --Robert Horton

Higher and Higher

Madcap movies don't come much madder than Higher and Higher, a 1943 musical best known as the feature debut of Frank Sinatra. In fact, he plays a character called "Frank Sinatra," an aspiring singer drawn into the zany doings at the mansion next door. Seems the patriarch of the place is flat busted, and needs to invent a blueblood daughter to marry off to the nearest eligible millionaire. Manservant (and former Wizard of Oz Tin Man) Jack Haley is in charge of the shenanigans, and scullery maid Michele Morgan is drafted as the daughter (but can't Haley see she's really in love with him?). This is the kind of wacky movie universe in which the blue-collar maid has a French accent and the English nobleman has a Danish accent (it's piano comedian Victor Borge). The songs include "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night" and one Rodgers and Hart number, "Disgustingly Rich." The cast is a hoot: here's Mel Tormé in his first movie, here's horse-faced wisecracker Mary Wickes, here's Casablanca crooner Dooley Wilson. And of course Sinatra at his skinniest, sounding very dulcet of voice. The well-traveled Tim Whelan directed, and he must've done something to make Sinatra feel comfortable--the kid looks like a natural. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The recent release of this 2 dvd set is a breath of fresh air amongst many DVD's of early monochrome films. Universal has done a painstaking job on these two discs. Both sound and vision are virtually perfect..For all Sinatra devotees - these films will be well known....The stories are trite and frothy yet very enjoyable with all the musical numbers being top class. I consider "Step lively" to be the more entertaining...Higher and Higher suffers from excessive farce dialogue from the days when U.S actors in this genre had to verbalise by shouting in high pitched quick fire voices - a far cry from the hushed and contrived dusky tones uttered in many films of today. This is not a criticsm; just an observation as to the style of the day...In short a brilliant and nostalgic pairing of two superbly produced discs worthy of an award for their technical enhancement alone. Universal has seen a niche market for top restoration of this area of film. Let's hope other distributors follow their example.

David Turner (London UK)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Step Lively / Higher and Higher film review 20 Oct 2009
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Higher and Higher
This is one of the first two films made by Frank Sinatra (the other was Step Lively) for RKO in 1944. Sinatra was then at the height of his singing career in the Tommy Dorsey and Axel Stordahl era (his fame declined in the late 1940s only to rise again in the 1950s thanks to Capitol Records arrangers Nelson Riddle and Billy May). So in this film he had little to do except sing a few numbers as himself - five of the eight songs by Jimmy McHugh (mus.) and Harold Adamson (lyr.) in the score. His principal co-star was Barbara Hale, whose career also resurged as Perry Mason's secretary Della Street on T.V.

The title of the film was borrowed from a poor 1940 Broadway musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, but there were no Rodgers and Hart numbers in this reworking. The plot here (I use the term loosely!) was still based on the same book as the Broadway show by Joshua Logan and Gladys Hurlbut, with amendments. It's a sort of Cinderella or Eliza Doolittle story with a scullery maid (Michele Morgan) being transformed into a debutante. The best-known of the McHugh and Adamson numbers were `I couldn't sleep a wink last night', `This is a lovely way to spend an evening' and `The music stopped'. As long as you're not too stuffy about these things, there's also an upbeat version of Boccherini's famous minuet.

Also of interest in this film: there are appearances by Victor Borge, Mel Torme (at the start of his career leading the Meltones vocal group for Artie Shaw) and Mary Wickes (the long-suffering maid in the Doris Day/Gordon Macrae musicals and in the Father Dowling TV series). A very enjoyable 75 min entertainment.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the voice of the century 6 Feb 2007
2 early sinatra films, which are a must see for any sinatra fan. the plots in these movies are very lighthearted and a tad silly,though the voice of sinatra is mesmerising and that alone makes the viewing all worth while.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Happy Nonsense 27 Mar 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This review is about "Step Lively"

Gordon Miller (George Murphy) has taken over a floor of a hotel managed by Joe (Walter Slezak). The entire cast of his show eats and sleeps there for free to the horror of Wagner (Adolphe Menjou), Joe's boss. The film follows Wagner's attempts to throw everyone out of the hotel and Gordon's attempts to get some backing for his show.

The film is easy to watch with pleasant songs and some funny moments. The cast, including Gloria DeHaven as "Chris" and Frank Sinatra as "Glenn" are good but Murphy and Menjou are guilty of shouting too much, particularly Menjou. The story is complete nonsense but the film is fun.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 10 July 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Great Videos
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