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A Winning Score,
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This review is from: On The Avenue [DVD] (DVD)
In 1937, Fox attempted to emulate the success of Top Hat with 'On The Avenue', hiring Irving Berlin to write the entire score. Dick Powell was loaned from Warners (big hit in 42nd Street) Madeleine Carroll had played mainly melodramatic roles in Britain (two for Hitchcock) and was given the female lead. Shooting star Alice Faye had to settle for third billing. The support cast was made up of Fox regulars including Joan Davis, George Barbier and the Ritz brothers.
Gary Blake (Dick Powell) and Mona Merrick (Alice Faye) are starring in a successful Broadway review. It opens with Mona singing 'He Ain't Got Rhythm' with chorus line, switching into a Ritz brothers fast moving performance of the same tune. The show contains a lampooning sketch of the richest girl in America, Mimi Caraway, (Madeleine Carroll),her father Commodore Caraway (George Barbier) and Mimi's Arctic explorer boyfriend Frederick Sims (Alan Mowbray). The audience and press find it hilarious but Mimi is infuriated and seeks out Gary Blake backstage giving him a dressing down with attached slaps. Gary calls her "a poor sport" and has her forcefully ejected. To placate her he takes her in a horse-driven carriage through Central Park. They are lovestruck. Both look stunning.Gary serenades Mimi with the lovely 'You're Laughing At Me' under the moonlight. Gary agrees to re-write the offending sketch. Whilst doing this Mona sings 'This Year's Kisses' (this turned out to be a massive hit) with that honey contralto voice and cream complexion. Getting wind of the changes, Mona, who fancies Gary at the very least reacts by heaping even more ridicule at Mimi in the sketch. This is after a sublime rendering of 'I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm' by Gary with an appearance by Mona that adds to the irony.
Outraged, Mimi buys the production. Unbeknowns, Mona takes stage to sing the shows biggest production number 'Slummin'On Park Avenue' dancing (and revealing plenty of leg!) This and Gary's next song are sabotaged by the Ritz Brothers and the show effectively murdered under Mimi's orders. Mimi is about to marry Frederick on the rebound but her heart isn't in it. Mona realises Gary loves Mimi, and saves the day for the couple with the help of Mimi's zany aunt Fritz (played by Cora Witherspoon).
This delightful,innocent film has love,passion,comedy and music. Director Roy Del Ruth extracts a mature, less mundane performance from Dick Powell. It is his and Alice Faye's film but Irving Berlin takes the applause for his winning score. Highly recommended.