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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hallelujah I'm A Bum (1933)

A hobo (Al Jolson) who is known as the "Mayor of Central Park" enjoys his carefree life and has no desire for material things or a steady job. But  when he falls in love with a young girl (Madge Evans) he saves from a suicide attempt and who has lost her memory in the process, little does he know she's the mistress of the Mayor of New York (Frank Morgan). Directed by Lewis Milestone, this is a lovely and lilting stylized musical with Rodgers & Hart (PAL JOEY) providing the songs and musical dialog and includes one of their standards, You Are Too Beautiful. Influenced by the musicals of Rene Clair and Rouben Mamoulian, the film is both witty and affecting. Normally, I'm not a fan of Jolson's broad brand of acting but his easy going demeanor here is quite welcome. This movie got in just under the wire of the Production Code crackdown so the leading lady being the mistress of a famous man and a startling suggestion of nudity got by with no big deal being made about it. The film is also notable for one of characters (Harry Langdon's trash collector) being an unapologetic communist and still be a good guy and Jolson's best friend being a black man (Edgar Connor). Reissued under the title THE HEART OF NEW YORK IN 1941. With Chester Conklin and Louise Carver.

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