Best Music Movies of 1944
Meet Me in St. Louis
In the year before the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to New York.
Going My Way
Youthful Father Chuck O'Malley led a colorful life of sports, song, and romance before joining the Roman Catholic clergy. After being appointed to a run-down New York parish, O'Malley's worldly knowledge helps him connect with a gang of boys looking for direction, eventually winning over the aging, conventional Parish priest.
The Three Caballeros
For Donald's birthday he receives a box with three gifts inside. The gifts, a movie projector, a pop-up book, and a pinata, each take Donald on wild adventures through Mexico and South America.
Two soldiers on leave spend three nights at a club offering free of charge food, dancing, and entertainment for servicemen on their way overseas. Club founders Bette Davis and John Garfield give talks on the history of the place.
A nightclub dancer makes it big in modeling, leaving her dancer boyfriend behind.
After breaking up with her fiancé, a gym teacher returns to work at a women's college, but a legal loophole allows him to enroll as one of her students.
Up in Arms
Hypochondriac Danny Weems gets drafted and accidentally smuggles his girlfriend aboard his Pacific-bound troopship.
The political career of Woodrow Wilson is chronicled, beginning with his decision to leave his post at Princeton to run for Governor of New Jersey, and his subsequent ascent to the Presidency of the United States. During his terms in office, Wilson must deal with the death of his first wife, the onslaught of German hostilities leading to American involvement in the Great War, and his own country's reticence to join the League of Nations.
And the Angels Sing
The singing/dancing Angel sisters, Nancy, Bobby, Josie, and Patti, aren't interested in performing together, and this plays havoc with the plans of Pop Angel to buy a soy bean farm. They do accept an offer of ten dollars to sing at a dubious night club on the edge of town where a band led by Happy Marshall is playing.
Jammin' the Blues
In this short film, prominent jazz musicians of the 1940s gather for a rare filming of a jam session. This highly stylized chronicle features tenor sax legend Lester Young.
The Merry Monahans
The Merry Monahans is one of the higher-budgeted Universal musicals of the 1940s, even though the storyline is strictly grade-B material. During the first two decades of the 20th century the film concerns a family vaudeville troupe headed by patriarch Pete Monahan (Jack Oakie). Because of his love affair with the bottle, Pete manages to get himself and his family blacklisted from every major vaude house in the country. Though Pete's kids Jimmy (Donald O'Connor) and Patsy (Peggy Ryan) love their dad, they're forced to break away from the act and go off on their own to survive. Eventually, the whole gang is reunited in a shamelessly lachrymose musical finale. Producer-scripters Michael Fessier and Ernest Pagano, whose other works include such offbeat comedies as San Diego I Love You, Frontier Gal and That's the Spirit, manage to keep the proceedings relatively cliché-free, though it's an uphill climb.
Song of Russia
American conductor John Meredith and his manager, Hank Higgins, go to Russia shortly before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Meredith falls in love with beautiful Soviet pianist Nadya Stepanova while they travel throughout the country on a 40-city tour. Along the way, they see happy, healthy, smiling, free Soviet citizens, blissfully living the Communist dream. This bliss is destroyed by the German invasion.
Music for Millions
Six-year-old "Mike" goes to live with her pregnant older sister, Babs, who plays string bass in José Iturbi's orchestra. And the orchestra is rapidly turning completely female, what with the draft. As the orchestra travels around the country, Babs' fellow orchestra members intercept and hide her War Office telegram to protect the baby.
In this western, two cowboys go to buy fresh horses for the cavalry and end up taking on two badguys and a female vigilante.
Shine on Harvest Moon
Biographical movie about the early 20th century broadway stars Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth.
Fly-by-night producers dodge bill collectors while trying for one big hit.
In 1922, a would-be classical composer gets involved with people putting on a musical revue.
A young woman from Kansas (Ann Miller) arrives in Hollywood with hopes of a movie career.
Pin Up Girl
Glamorous Lorry Jones, the toast of a Missouri military canteen, has become "engaged" to almost every serviceman she's signed her pin-up photo for. Now she's leaving home to go into government service (not, as she fantasizes, to join the USO). On a side trip to New York, her vivid imagination leads her to True Love with naval hero Tommy Dooley; but increasingly involved Musical Comedy Complications follow.
One Exciting Night
A young singer meets a man who is the victim of a kidnap plot, and is assumed by the gang to be his girlfriend.
Four Jills in a Jeep
Reenactments of actual USO experiences of its female stars entertaining troops overseas.
Sensations of 1945
As dancer Ginny Walker performs on stage, a veiled woman in the audience stands up, accuses Ginny of stealing her husband and then fires a gun at her. After Ginny collapses and is taken to her dressing room, the woman, Julia Westcolt, a friend of Ginny's, dashes backstage, discards her veil, and then congratulates her friend on their successful publicity stunt. When Ginny's press agents, Gus Crane and his son Junior, visit their client backstage, she brags about her feat and chides them for not being more creative in promoting her. Horrified at Ginny's brashness, Junior, a conservative Harvard graduate, chastises her and leaves the room.
In 1915, Atlantic City is a sleepy seaside resort, but Brad Taylor, son of a small hotel and vaudeville house proprietor, has big plans: he thinks it can be "the playground of the world." Brad's wheeling and dealing proves remarkably successful in attracting big enterprises and big shows, but brings him little success in personal relationships. Full of nostalgic songs and acts, some with the original artists. Reissued in 1950 as "Atlantic City Honeymoon".
Something for the Boys
The oddly-assorted Hart cousins: revue singer Blossom, con man Harry, and machinist Chiquita (who gets radio through her teeth!), inherit southern plantation Magnolia Manor, which alas proves to be a "termite trap" and tax liability. Fortunately, Sgt. Rocky Fulton from a nearby army camp appears with a plan to convert the place to a hotel for army wives; but to pay bills until then, they decide to put on a show. Of course, romantic and military complications intervene...
Sweet and Low-Down
After their annual free concert at Chicago's Dearborn Settlement, Benny Goodman and his band are packing up to go to their next engagement when a kid steals Goodman's clarinet. Goodman and Popsie pursue him to a tenement flat where he has led them to hear his brother play the trombone. Shenanigans ensue following Goodman's offering the brother a job with the band.
This animated short co-animated by René Jodoin and Norman McLaren was produced for inclusion in the Let's All Sing Together sing-along series. It illustrates the popular song Alouette, gentille alouette. The technique used is single-frame animation of paper cutouts.
Pardon My Rhythm
A high school bandleader captures the interest of a popular co-ed.
Rock the Boat
An illustration of a traditional French Canadian song in the form of progressing cutouts and still pictures.
Musical about vaudeville performers, from 1944.
Follow the Boys
During World War II, all the studios put out "all-star" vehicles which featured virtually every star on the lot--often playing themselves--in musical numbers and comedy skits, and were meant as morale-boosters to both the troops overseas and the civilians at home. This was Universal Pictures' effort. It features everyone from Donald O'Connor to the Andrews Sisters to Orson Welles to W.C. Fields to George Raft to Marlene Dietrich, and dozens of other Universal players.
La corte de faraón
Remotely based on a famous Spanish zarzuela of 1910, this lavish, daring sex comedy was filmed on a gigantic art deco set that suggests ancient Egypt repurposed for an Astaire and Rogers musical. The Pharaoh, played here as a henpecked husband by the popular comedian Roberto Soto, seeks a virginal slave girl as a bride for his general Potiphar (Fernando Cortés), but Potiphar is impotent and the slave girl (played by Mapy Cortés in a swirl of high-spirited sexuality) has some ideas of her own.
Two zanies get mixed up with a Southern colonel, his beautiful daughters, a nightclub and a haunted mansion.
A man from the countryside becomes London’s newest music hall sensation, and competes with a rival music hall performer for the audience’s attention.
Brazil is perhaps the best of the handful of US films made by Brazilian singing sensation Tito Guizar. In typical screwball-comedy fashion, the plot is set in motion by authoress Nicky Henderson, who has hit the best-seller charts with her latest tome, Why Marry a Latin? While researching her next book in Rio De Janeiro, she finds out "why" when she meets handsome songwriter Miguel Soares. Upon learning about Nicky's book, Miguel decides to teach her a few lessons in the affairs of the heart. Edward Everett Horton is also on hand, twittering his way through the role of a well-meaning buttinsky. Thanks to the "Good Neighbor" policy of the 1940s, South American musicals were a glut on the market, but Brazil was good enough on its own merits to pay its way at the box office.
Hymn of the Nations
Hymn of the Nations, originally titled Arturo Toscanini: Hymn of the Nations, is a 1944 film directed by Alexander Hammid, which features the "Inno delle nazioni," a patriotic work for tenor soloist, chorus, and orchestra, composed by Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi in the early 1860s. (For this musical work, Verdi utilized the national anthems of several European nations.) In December 1943, Arturo Toscanini filmed a performance of this music for inclusion in an Office of War Information documentary about the role of Italian-Americans in aiding the Allies during World War II. Toscanini added a bridge passage to include arrangements of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the United States and "The Internationale" for the Soviet Union and the Italian partisans. Joining Toscanini in the filmed performance in NBC Studio 8-H, were tenor Jan Peerce, the Westminster Choir, and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. The film also included the overture to Verdi's opera La Forza del Destino.
Irish Eyes Are Smiling
This Technicolor musical biopic stars Argentina-born Dick Haymes as Irish-American composer Ernest R. Ball. Climbing to fame with such sentimental songs as "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" (hence the title), Ball romances a lovely showgirl (June Haver), who in turn catches the eye of a charming underworld character (Anthony Quinn). Monty Woolley does a variation of The Man who Came to Dinner in his role as a roguish Broadway producer. Seldom cluttering up its story with the facts, Irish Eyes are Smiling is chiefly a showcase for the superb singing of Dick Haymes. The film was produced by legendary journalist Damon Runyon, which should surprise several citizens more than somewhat.
Broadway producer Johnny Demming is only interested in big-name talent and scoffs that his sister, father and other small-time talent could be used in a successful show.
Rosie the Riveter
In this romantic wartime comedy, four female defense plant workers share a house with four male workers. The situation is on the up and up as the men and women work different shifts and they are only making due because there is a housing shortage. Unfortunately, they soon begin to fight about who gets the house during certain hours. Romance ensues.
Lady, Let's Dance
Singing, dancing, and ice skating are featured in this musical that focuses on ice-skating sensation Belita. The story begins as she travels to a California resort where she has been hired as a replacement for a dance team. The resort is run by a handsome fellow. As a result of the gig, the skater becomes a national star while the resort manager gets fired and becomes a drifter until he ends up in the Army. The Oscar nominated score includes the following songs: "Silver Shadows and Golden Dreams", "Dream of Dreams", "Rio", "In the Days of Beau Brummel", "Lady, Let's Dance", "Happy Hearts", "Ten Million Men and a Girl", and the rhumba standard "Esperanza".
I'm from Arkansas
A town in Arkansas makes national headlines when a local sow gives birth to 18 piglets.
Joan Terry, from Kansas City, comes to New York to get a job on the stage. But until she finds an opportunity, she stays at a boarding house where other talent is also waiting. To get a better chance, the people there decide to build a talent pool, where the person with the most chances for a job gets the full support, trying to get jobs for the others there too - and Joan is chosen to do that. But this is not so easy when her fiance is trying to keep her away from the stage...
The wild and woolly early days of New York -- when it was still known as New Amsterdam -- provide the backdrop for this period musical-comedy. In 1650, Peter Stuyvesant (Charles Coburn) arrives in New Amsterdam to assume his duties as governor. Stuyvesant is hardly the fun-loving type, and one of his first official acts is to call for the death of Brom Broeck (Nelson Eddy), a newspaper publisher well-known for his fearless exposes of police and government corruption. However, Broeck hasn't done anything that would justify the death penalty, so Stuyvesant waits (without much patience) for Broeck to step out of line. Broeck is romancing a beautiful woman named Tina Tienhoven (Constance Dowling), whose sister Ulda (Shelley Winters) happens to be dating his best friend, Ten Pin (Johnnie "Scat" Davis). After Stuyvesant's men toss Broeck in jail on a trumped-up charge, Stuyvesant sets his sights on winning Tina's affections.
A boogie-woogie piano introduces what purports to be a jitterbug lesson, starring prize winner Arthur Walsh, his partner, and then later various other couples. We start with steps imported from other dances, like the waltz, then sped up. Next Walsh and his partner show some basic steps, but the movements are too swift for the narrator to describe them or the viewer to learn how to do them. By the end, various couples (all but a pair of briefly-seen children are white), including some comic ones, give a high-speed demonstration as the music rocks and swings. These are hep cats. Pete Smith's narration is full of slang.
That's My Baby!
A love triangle occurs between the publisher's daughter Betty Moody. comic book artist Tim Jones, and the company's wily manipulative manager Hilton Payne. In addition, Betty's dad, Phineas Moody suffers from severe melancholy; and an emergency cure of laughter is required to save his health.
Jimmy O'Brien (Robert Lowery)and Sammy Rubin (Sidney Miller), write jingle commercials for radio, and meet Mary Adams (Dona Drake), who wants to break into radio as a soloist for a band.
Murder in the Blue Room
A singer, her girlfriends and a mystery writer stay in the house where her father was killed.
Belle of the Yukon
Left by a con man, Belle De Valle, a dancer, finds him again in gold-rush Alaska running an honest casino/dance hall.
Kansas City Kitty
A piano teacher and her roommate decide invest their savings in a music publishing company. Comedy with music.
11th. Naval District 'United States Coast Guard Band'
A patriotic wartime short showcasing the U.S. Coast Guard Band, led by singer Rudy Vallee, and saluting the Naval branches of the military.
A Night of Magic
London bachelor Reggie Bryant receives a most unusual gift from his uncle - an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus with a 3,000 year old princess inside. More amazing still, when Reggie lifts the lid, he finds not a dried-up old mummy, but a very gorgeous and nubile young blonde who identifies herself as Princess Raviola. Forgetting all about his fiance, Reggie and the Princess set off on a wild drinking and dancing escapade through the nightclubs of London. Wishing to return the favor, Princess Raviola whisks Reggie 3,000 years back in time to ancient Egypt, where she intends to show him how they partied in Pharaoh's Palace!