For your musical entertainment why not take a pair of Mitzi’s, Gaynor and Green along with a couple of lazy bloodhounds. Now mix them with a numbers racketeer looking for love played by Scott Brady and are you ready for this….. add in a couple of screen heavies, Timothy Carey and Charles Bronson and voila! You’ve got the latest Damon Runyon technicolor offering of 1952 from 20th Century Fox and director Harmon Jones. Before you ask, Carey and Bronson don’t sing any notes or get in on any dance numbers though looking back from our vantage point it’s something we’d love to have seen taken place.
When Scott Brady skips town and the bright lights of broadway to avoid a crackdown on the criminal element in New York, he bides his time on vacation with his number one stooge, Wally Vernon till the heat in the Big Apple dies down. It’s while heading back through Georgia that he comes across a barefoot mountain gal played by Miss Gaynor. From the moment the camera brings her into focus, she’ll not only win over the heart of Scott Brady but pretty much anyone taking the time to watch this colorful, spirited romp. “You all from the law?” she’ll ask Brady who of course is anything but.
Classic screen heavy Timothy Carey will then make an appearance as a jealous hillbilly who doesn’t take kindly to city slicker Brady getting a bit to close to his gal Mitzi. It’s here in the cabin that she calls home she’ll do a fun version of “Get along home Cindy” with little nine year old Sharon Baird to wet our appetites for the Broadway numbers yet to come.
When orphan girl Mitzi saves Brady and Vernon from a quick demise via Carey’s shotgun, they ask her along on their journey back to New York to see the big city for the first time. With her hounds in tow, they’ll soon be back in Brady’s town. It’s here that his steady girl Marguerite Chapman takes offense to the cute mountain gal mooning about over Brady and his old gang gather around at which point we’ll see a decked out Charles Bronson playing Pittsburgh Philo.
Charlie even scores a line or two and gets to look mighty embarrassed when sharing the screen with the multi talented Gaynor as she points out how all of these thugs are some of the best people she’s ever known. It’s while back in New York that our other Mitzi, Mitzi Green turns up playing 52nd Street Tessie. She’ll take the young Mitzi under her wing and get her out of her hillbilly overalls into some swank big city clothes thus releasing a young beauty upon the town. The boys take notice and Number’s Brady is starting to have trouble with numerical figures. Wonder why?
Like most any romantic comedy or musical, the plot isn’t too tough to figure out. When Brady’s main squeeze Chapman gets a might too jealous of Mitzi she is sure to attempt to blow the whistle on his gambling and racketeering operation. Perhaps with some musical numbers and well timed romantic interludes this Runyon tale will lead to a happy ending with the wholesome Mitzi and a reformed Brady.
This proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable musical number with most of the credit going to Miss Mitzi Gaynor. Her on screen timing in both comedy and dance routines are pitch perfect. There are more than enough musical numbers allowing for the customary leading lady costume changes of which Mitzi uses to great effect. Simply put, the camera loves her and she is indeed beautiful. Brady does well as her leading man at a point when he hadn’t yet settled into westerns and crime dramas. Admittedly it’s not a stretch here playing a racketeer but he has just the right hint of playing it softly with romance in the air.
If you are familiar with the characters of Apple Annie and Dave the Dude from the world of Damon Runyon, they factor in here briefly which is fun when it comes to inside trivia and connecting the dots of Runyon’s movie universe. Lastly should you ever encounter the trivia question, “Name a movie musical that sees Mitzi Gaynor putting Timothy Carey in his place and causing Charles Bronson to blush?” you’ll now have the answer.
Recommended and available on DVD from 20th Century Fox.