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Are We ‘Lucky In Love’ and Are We Doing ‘The Varsity Drag’
This is the 1947 film, not the 1930 one! 😀
Musical films tend to vary, don’t they? Whether they’re film adaptations of stage musicals or films made as musicals, they can often vary in terms of taste. Sometimes you have grounded and believable musicals and sometimes you have zany and often feel-good musicals for a certain period.
The grounded and believable musicals can often be ones like the films starring Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney where they deal with real-life situations and such. The same thing can be said about ‘Holiday Inn’. The zany, often feel-good musicals is quite a fitting category for 1947’s ‘Good News’. 😀
Not that I dislike the 1947 ‘Good News’ film. I find it harmless enough and it does have a good nostalgic feel, being based on the 1927 stage production of the same name. But having watching the film a number of times and recently for this review, I query the choices with character development.
And yes, I know films like ‘Good News’ were made in a different time and there was a more optimistic feel. But I’m looking at this film in today’s context and how things were different concerning romance and such. I’ll do my best to highlight positives and negatives regarding this film.
The 1947 ‘Good News’ was the second film adaptation of the 1927 stage play. The first one was a 1930 film that had sexual innuendo and suggestive humour. Ooh! That would’ve been naughty in those days. 😀 I suppose the 1947 film was made to cover up embarrassment found in the 1930 film.
With that said, that is a positive for the 1947 film. Despite me having issues with character development, I like that the 1947 ‘Good News’ has a cleaner approach to tell a romantic story. And I suppose it showcases the American spirit of the 1920s in a good way compared to more recent films.
‘Good News’ stars June Allyson and Peter Lawford as the main romantic couple Connie and Tommy. It was nice to see June Allyson in this film. This was the second time I’d seen June Allyson in a film, having seen her in ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ with James Stewart. She would do that film later in 1954.
I’ve also seen June Allyson in the film ‘Girl Crazy’ with Mickey Rooney. She did that before doing ‘Good News’ apparently. 😀 I’ve also seen Peter Lawford in the film ‘Easter Parade’ with Judy Garland. He did a supporting role in that film before he became the main lead in the ‘Good News’ film. 🙂
The film also features stars like Patricia Marshall, Joan McCracken, Ray McDonald and Mel Tormé. Again, despite my issues with the character development featured in this film, it’s clear that the cast and crew had a good time making ‘Good News’ in 1947. It still must’ve been very hard work though.
‘Good News’ (1947) was one of the MGM musical films of the 1940s. I’ve seen quite a number of MGM musical films including ‘Singin’ In The Rain’, ‘On the Town’ and such. Most of them have feel-good factors in them and their nostalgia can be recorded in the ‘That’s Entertainment’ documentary films.
Anyway, the film ‘Good News’ takes place in the fictional Tait College. Campus football hero Tommy Marlowe, played by Peter Lawford, tries to win the affections of new student Pat McClellan, played by Patricia Marshall. Unfortunately, Pat shows no interest in Tommy and is pretty much a snob here.
When Tommy gets nowhere with Pat, he tries to study French which is a language she’s most interested in. Tommy gets help from part-time school librarian Connie Lane, played by June Allyson, to enlist studying French. Gradually, Tommy falls in love with Connie before he’s entangled with Pat.
From watching this film, Tait College happens to be obsessed with football. Everything hinges on Tommy winning certain games. If he doesn’t pass his French exams, he can’t play in the football game. He also gets distracted with the ladies he falls in love with, causing his team to lose the game.
Not that I wish to discredit the college from getting excited about football – and that’s American football, by the way. Not soccer as they call our football. American football is more like rugby. 😀 – but is that all they’re obsessed about? There’s more to life than football and sport as far as I’m concerned.
The romance between Tommy and Connie is nice enough. Tommy seems to be a catch for the ladies whilst Connie seems to come from a poor background. Connie doesn’t mind that so much and that’s what makes Tommy attracted to her, I guess. Also Connie’s rather nicer to Tommy than Pat is to him.
I did think things went too fast regarding Tommy and Connie’s relationship, especially when he kissed her on their meeting at the library. Gosh, I wish romances were all like that. I wish I could just tell a girl that I find her beautiful and give her a kiss. It’s a pity that would be taken the wrong way. 😀
Actually the reason why Tommy kissed Connie on their first meeting is because he wanted to know the French word for ‘kiss’ so that he could impress Pat. Connie is clearly upset by that. And who could blame her? I’m sure she had her hopes for Tommy to actually like her in that moment instead of Pat.
Even when Tommy gets nowhere with Pat and asks Connie instead to take her a partner for a dance, he lets her down again. After Pat suddenly takes an interest in Tommy, with prompting from Babe, Connie’s best friend, Tommy phones Connie up to let her know he has broken their date with her. 😮
Whoa! I wouldn’t have done that! If I asked a girl out to a dance after one girl rejected me but then was persuaded to ask her again, I would have said ‘no’ to the first girl and told her I’m taking somebody else instead. That’s what Tommy should have done. Not broken off the date with Connie!
And yes, I know Tommy gradually comes to realise that he loves Connie instead of Pat, but it makes me wonder why he forgot he was going out with Connie instead after Pat persuaded him to take out to the dance. Though I suppose looking it in another manner, it would be true to life in some regards.
Patricia Marshall as Pat, like I said, is pretty much a snob in this film. A glamorous snob of course, but still a snob! She’s easily swayed to go out with Tommy in the film when Babe lets on his father’s rich. Yeah! That is the reason why Pat wants to go out with Tommy, convinced he is of a rich background.
It makes Pat unlikeable, especially when she dumped previous suitor Robert Strickland as Peter Van Dyne for Tommy. I wonder why men would want to go out with her. Oh yeah, because she’s pretty. 😀 Soon Pat dumps Tommy for Beef in the film when she heard he might be from a rich background.
Joan McCracken as Babe Doolittle provides some of the comic relief in the film as well as the singing and dancing. As well as being Connie’s best friend, she has a thing for Bobby Turner. She prefers him rather than Beef, a football player she is going out with. Babe tries to get with Bobby instead of Beef.
Ray McDonald as Bobby Turner also provides the comic relief in the film, especially when he’s pursued by Babe. He wants her to get away from him. Bobby likes Babe, but is afraid about being beaten up by Beef who’s easily jealous over his girl. Bobby gets a chance to lead the football team. 🙂
Loren Tindall stars as Beef, who I’m sure is trying to audition to play the Hulk. 😀 I say that because Beef, through his jealously, and seeing Bobby talking to himself after he just talked to Babe who hides in his car, smashes and tears up his car to pieces. And he didn’t realise it was Bobby’s car. Hey?
Mel Tormé was a big name in his day, having sung and composed music for TV, film, radio and such. Here he plays Danny, a singer at the campus who only has two scenes in the movie and that’s it. Yeah! Quite a pointless role when you think about it? He didn’t have much to do with the film’s plot.
The film’s cast also includes Donald MacBride as Coach Johnson; Tom Dugan as Pooch; Clinton Sundberg as Professor Burton Kennyon; Connie Glichrist as Core the cook; Morris Ankrum as Dean Griswold; Georgia Lee as Flo and Jane Green as Mrs. Drexel. As I said, the cast had a good time here.
The musical numbers featured in this film are from the stage play itself. They include ‘Good News’ itself at the beginning of the film, which I’m sure was mostly covered by the opening credits. 😀 There’s also ‘Be a Ladies’ Man’, ‘Lucy In Love’, ‘The Best Things in Life Are Free’ and ‘The Varsity Drag’. 😀
The final song number ‘The Varsity Drag’ is insane, especially with the men and ladies happily dancing before we get to Tommy saying to Connie about her eyes “They sure are blue!” before they look at the camera, break the fourth wall and kiss each other. It isn’t as a bad as ‘Nativity 3’ thankfully. 😀
The DVD special features are as follows. There are cast and crew biographies (although only for June Allyson and Peter Lawford strangely enough); two excerpts from the 1930s ‘Good News’ film including ‘The Varsity Drag’ and ‘Good News’; a deleted musical number from the 1947 film called ‘An Easier Way’ and a theatrical trailer for the 1947 film.
So yeah, the 1947 ‘Good News’ film isn’t what I would called ‘knockout entertainment’ as Clive Hirschhorn described it in ‘The Hollywood Musical’ once. But it’s harmless fun and it has a decent romance story featuring June Allyson and Peter Lawson as the two main leads, which is pretty good.
My Mum and Dad like this film and I have a soft spot for it. I can’t ignore certain character development choices made, especially in terms of how the two leads develop their relationship. But for its time, it was good-feel entertainment and I am pretty sure you’ll enjoy it too should you see it.
‘Good News’ rating – 7/10
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