Variety Girl (1947)
If you love playing spot the “star” when watching a classic feature this Paramount entry should do just the trick as it features a huge roster of faces from their stable of celebrities led by Hope and Crosby.
I chose this 1947 entry to be featured in the blogathon kindly hosted by Kristina of Speakeasy and Karen of Shadows and Satin. It’s a film where you’ll hear Bing Crosby threaten to beat Bob Hope to a pulp with his Oscar while the two are working on their golf game.
Each studio from the golden era loved to throw their studio assets, namely stars into a collage of skits wrapped around a thinly veiled plot. Much like Warner Brothers It’s a Great Feeling this Paramount flick tells the story of a young girl portrayed by Mary Hatcher who hopes to break into showbiz by way of her singing talent.
When she arrives in town she gets tangled up with another young woman hoping to make a big splash in the film industry played by Olga San Juan. Now while Olga and Miss Hatcher may not have amounted to household names the young man who figures romantically in the story sure did. It’s a pre Star Trek DeForest Kelley.
From the opening of the film the featured players begin their cameos. Barbara Stanwyck tells the story of the evolution of the Variety Club and Hope, Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard make for some quick footage. Hard not to wish you had the chance to be with Miss Hatcher when she visits Grauman’s as a tourist only to have Alan Ladd, Dorothy Lamour and William Holden walk by.
As the plot continues it’s Olga who is assumed to be the singer that has been sent out to test for a film role when it’s actually Hatcher who has run afoul of studio head Frank Ferguson. Hatcher is the humble girl next door type while Olga isn’t exactly shy about thrusting herself in front of anyone who may further her career. She’s quickly turning into nothing more than an annoyance to those around her including guest spots from real life directors Mitchell Leisen and George Marshall.
There’s a really funny bit when Olga films her studio test and finds herself quite disappointed to discover her leading man is William Bendix. Bendix gets the opportunity to mug for the camera here and as expected easily steals the scene.
As the film progresses DeForest Kelley is trying his best to get studio head Ferguson to notice lovely Hatcher by getting Olga to agree to sing at the Variety Club gala night by miming the words to Hatcher’s off stage singing. With Bob Hope emceeing this allows for a steady stream of first rate talent to do their thing. While all are contract players, some get the chance to shine while others are just window dressing. A very young Burt Lancaster and Lizabeth Scott fall into the latter.
Pearl Bailey does a number and doing a song and dance routine is Alan Ladd joined by Dorothy Lamour. I honestly don’t know if Ladd was dubbed in song but to see him do a number with Dorothy was a nice change of pace and one I welcomed.
Bob Hope continues to perform his schtick with plenty of guest stars jumping into the fray. Gary Cooper, Veronica Lake and the list goes on. Bing will once again join Bob in song and insults before the fadeout of this George Marshall directed film where we even have Cecil B. making a quick cameo.
I haven’t mentioned all the names as I’ll leave some for you to spot yourself. Trivia wise there is Edith Head credited with Gowns for the stars. A puppetoon sequence from George Pal is included that was originally a color sequence in this black and white 93 minute Paramount”home movie.” The VHS copy of the film that I have does not include this sequence in color though it looked impressive enough that I wish it was.
With all the stars involved it’s practically impossible not to have a favorite in here and for the Hope Crosby fans there is more time devoted to their hijinks than you might expect so it should be considered required viewing for fans of their many Road trips.
So give this 1947 feature a look and don’t forget to check out the other titles from this featured year. Coop and Barry think it’s a good idea!