Thursday, February 1, 2007

MOON OVER MIAMI (20th Century Fox 1941) Fox Home Video

Walter Lang’s Moon Over Miami (1941) was Betty Grable’s follow up to Down Argentine Way (reviewed in January) and it is saying much of both the actress and the material already well exercised in the latter, continued to resonate with more than a hint of freshness this time around. Grable is cast as winsome ingénue, Katherine Latimer. Kaye shares in her hand-to-mouth existence as a singing waitress at a Texas stop with her sister, Barbara (Carole Landis) and aunt, Susan (Charlotte Greenwood).

But the three decide to hightail it where rich millionaires are plentiful. Installed in a swank beach resort in Miami populated with money, Kaye assumes the role of a rich girl about town with Barbara pretending to be her secretary and Susan, her maid. The idea is for Kaye to snag a rich man and then Barbara and Susan will have it comfy too.

On her first night out, Kaye’s prospect for marriage materializes through a rivalry between congenial playboy, Jeffery Boulton II (Robert Cummings) and bored playboy, Phil O’Neil (Don Ameche). Cummings is quite at ease as the romantic fop and he knows his way around a good song. He’s provided with one of the film’s best, ‘You Started Something’, later warbled with just as much verve by Don Ameche and tapped rhythmically by Grable and a pair of twins, The Condos Brothers.
This rivalry is further complicated when Barbara begins to have affections for Jeffery too. A threadbare subplot involves Susan falling for a middle aged bellboy, Jack O’Hara (played rather awkwardly by Jack Haley).

Fox Home Video’s DVD is quite impressive. Though there are one or two very brief instances where the image appears slightly soft and perhaps slightly out of focus, for the most part the picture elements exhibit lush Technicolor at its very best with eye-popping reds, lurid deep and moody blues and vital greens. Blacks are deep and velvety. Whites are bright and clean, though never blooming.

Contrast levels are for the most part perfectly realized. The audio has been remixed to stereo (a practice Fox continues to do on mono soundtracks despite the fact that it has no discrete channels for which to provide a true stereo sound mix). Nevertheless, the sound elements are extremely robust with punchy. Extras are limited to a stills gallery and theatrical trailer. Of all the Grable movies Fox has issued on DVD thus far, this is the only one without an audio commentary. Bottom line: Moon Over Miami comes recommended as palpably adequate fun for a rainy afternoon or snowy eve. Anyone anywhere can escape to the tropics.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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