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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cairo (1942)

Due to a misunderstanding, a reporter (Robert Young) and a movie actress (Jeanette MacDonald) in Egypt each think the other is a Nazi spy. So they do what any spy would do ... they spy on each other! I suppose a spy spoof with songs in the middle of WWII while American soldiers were fighting overseas didn't sit well with American audiences so this film was a flop. It looks a lot better some sixty years later. While her trilling is still hard to take, MacDonald is very glamorous and relaxed and gets a chance to mock herself. When asked if she's ever been to San Francisco, she retorts, "Once. With Tracy and Gable" and her ability to hit a high C is prominent in foiling the Nazi's plans. There is one uncomfortable moment when MacDonald sings "colored" and shuffles and sings dat instead of that! On the other hand, Ethel Waters plays MacDonald's maid but she's allowed grace and dignity (she's more of a companion than a servant) rather than the usual black maid stereotype. The dull musical numbers (except for Waters belting Buds Won't Bud) aside, it was a pleasant diversion. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke (billed as Major W.S. Van Dyke here). With Lionel Atwill, Reginald Owen, Dooley Wilson (CASABLANCA), Eduardo Ciannelli, Mona Barrie and Rhys Williams.

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