US, 1948, 94 minutes, Black and white.
Jack Carson, Ann Sothern, Robert Alda, S.Z. Sakall, Robert Ellis.
Directed by James V. Kern.
April Showers is a B Warner Bros musical, with Jack Carson and Ann Sothern in the lead, instead of the more A-musical stars including June Haver, Dennis Morgan, Gordon MacRae?. However, Jack Carson gets the opportunity to be a song-and-dance man as well as the pathos of his being an alcoholic. Ann Sothern is always effective. Robert Alda plays the heavy, a ladies’ man, a performer, who is unscrupulous in keeping his reputation. There is some comedy, as usual, from S.Z. Sakall. However, one of the reasons for watching film is Robert Ellis as the young son, an athletic and acrobatic dancer, a charismatic performer – which is surprising that he had a very muted career after this film and died at the age of forty in 1973.
The film is the familiar vaudeville story, the song-and-dance act that is getting tired, the restless audiences. However, things perk up when the son gets leave from school, does an audition in the hotel which is packed with entertainers, goes on stage with his parents and wows people. When they go to New York, he is not allowed to perform because of the Gerry Society (an actual society) which prevents underage children from performing. There follows the despair of the husband, his opting out, his wanting to give his wife and son an opportunity (where Robert Alda steps in). However, there is a happy ending when Jack Carson is invited back in to perform with his wife.
The film offers a lot of golden oldies, especially the title number, April Showers.
1. The popularity of this kind of musical in the 1940s? Warner Bros production? B-budget? Black and white?
2. The popularity of the songs, the oldies from vaudeville times? April Showers? Performances? Musicals?
3. The story of Joe and June Tyme? Their song-and-dance routine, the restless audience, the manager sacking them? Joe and his anger, resigning? Life at the hotel, Mr Curley and the account? The attempts to get jobs? Buster and his being in school, writing the poor letter, his turning up, his audition? June and her not wanting Buster to be in the act? The agent, being persuasive? Rehearsals, the performances, the audience reaction? The collage of performances? The happy family? The opportunity to go to New York? Spending all their money to get there?
4. New York, the visit to the agent, his regrets, the Gerry Society? The midget and his performance? The decision for Buster to be a midget? The dubbed voice? Going on stage, Buster and his shrewdness? The interview with the Gerry Society – their being caught? Having to return to the west coast?
5. Joe, his drinking, his moving out? His pride? His waiting tables? June, her being invited into the musical? The encounter with Billy Shay, Billy and his reputation, knowing June in the past, the clashes with Joe? His taking Joe’s place, the performances? Buster’s unwillingness but going through with the act?
6. The build-up to the musical, Billy and his pretending to know the routines, forcing Buster to help him?
7. June going to see Joe? Joe’s arrival just in time to clash with Billy, the fight, hospital? The invitation to Joe to come back into the musical, the routine with The Three Tymes? Success?
8. Conventional material – with the 1940s touch?