Monday, November 7, 2016


Over the weekend I watched Sally off of my DVR. It's available via the Warner Archive, so I feel OK doing a full-length post.

Sally, played by Broadway star Marilyn Miller doing a reprise of the Broadway role, is a New York waitress who likes to practice her dance steps while she works, something which unsurprisingly causes all sorts of problems. She meets impresario Otis Hooper (T. Roy Barnes), but loses her chance at getting a job with him, as well as losing her job as a waitress, when she spills a tray full of food on him.

She's not the only one who's distraught; also unhappy is Blair Farell (Alexander Gray). He's a wealthy young man from one of those Long Island families, who has been looking through the big plate glass window at the front of the restaurant to watch Sally, whom he doesn't even know. He's just infatuated with her. Of course, he's engaged to wone of the society daughters out on the Island.

Anyhow, Sally gets a job at a restaurant out on Long Island, along with her friend Connie (Joe E. Brown), who is a deposed royal from some Eastern European family. He's working as a waiter, but he keeps up the trappings of being a royal, not letting high society know what he's been reduced to. Blair meets Sally there and tells her his love for her. Meanwhile, Hooper also meets Sally there, and gives her a second chance when it turns out some Russian woman who was supposed to dance at the party where Blair's engagement is going to be annouced had to back out; Sally can pretend to be that woman. Of course, Blair recognizes Sally; Connie had an issue with the woman Sally is supposed to be playing; and Blair's engagement is announced.

It's all high society pre-42nd Street musical piffle. A lot of the early talkie musicals had poor, threadbare plots, and this one is no different. There are interesting things in the movie, however. Joe E. Brown gets some physical comedy scenes, notably helping an old guy up a ladder. There's also the song, "Look for the Silver Lining", sung, if not that well, by Miller and Gray. But perhaps most interesting is that the movie was apparently originally released entirely in two-strip Technicolor. Unfortunately, only most of one dance number at the party out on Long Island survives in color, and that bit is for the most part surprisingly well-preserved. The rest of the movie looks slightly off, in that the black and white looks different from most other movies of the era, which I think is a sign of how the movie was in fact originally filmed in color, which had much brighter lighting needs.

Overall, I'm not certain Sally is for the average film fan. Certainly, if I wanted to introduce people to films from this era, this isn't the movie I'd pick. Even just one year later, in 1930, movies had vastly advanced in terms of the use of sound. But for people who like early musicals, Sally is well worth a watch. Especially when you consider that Miller didn't make too many movies.

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