Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How do you like your eggs?

I'm not a huge fan of early musicals, in part because musicals in general aren't my favorite genre, and in part because the production values of the earlier musicals left a lot to be desired. One of the better early musicals, Sunnyside Up, is coming up tomorrow at noon ET on TCM.

Janet Gaynor plays Molly, who lives with Bea (Marjorie White) and works with her in the store run by Swenson (El Brendel), in the lower-class part of Manhattan. It's the Fourth of July, so everybody on their block is taking part in an Independence Day block party. Cut to the "beautiful people" on Long Island. Jack (Charles Farrell) is engaged to Jane (Sharon Lynn), but he discovers that she's really in love with another man. So Jack decides to drown his sorrows in drink, and then drive off. Drunk driving was a problem even then, and Jack crashes his roadsterright into the block party where Molly and friends live. Jack escapes up to Molly's apartment, and it's love at first sight.

There's the class difference, however. What's a man to do? Jack convinces Molly and friends to come out to the Hamptons for the summer and will even pay them handsomely for it. Jack figures that if he can pass Molly off as a member of the high society that exists somewhere out in the Midwest, his finacée might conclude that maybe cavorting with other guys isn't such a good idea after all. But there's the question of whether Molly really can appear to be high class. And even if she does, she's not really of the correct social class for Jack to marry....

Sunnyside Up is a fairly pedestrian story, with 1920s music that you may or may not like. But there are some parts of the movie that are worth watching. El Brendel and Bea's beau (Frank Albertson) pose as hired help once everybody gets out to the Hamptons, and Brendel is quite good at the part. Marjorie White is a little dynamo as always, although her movies rare show up on TV because she worked at Fox, and because she died tragically young in a car accident. Perhaps the revelation is Janet Gaynor's singing. She's not exactly a great singer, but she gets one song toward the beginning in which she's playing a zither (or at least it looks like a zither). If you haven't seen Sunnyside Up before, it's well worth at least one viewing.

As far as I can tell, Sunnyside Up hasn't gotten a DVD release, so you're going to have to catch the rare TV showing.

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