breakfast in Hollywood
aka, THE MAD HATTER. 1946
Director: Harold D. Schuster

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

You know you're not going to be bored when Breakfast & Hollywood (1946) gets itself off the ground with Nat King Cole Trio singing the novelty hep tune "Solid Potato Salad."

Nat will also perform "Better to Be Yourself." Oddly, the trio's performances are set apart from the main film rather than integrated into the story with other performers, as though he were spliced in as an afterthought.

breakfast in HollywoodSometimes such performances were filmed & kept in the vault until the right film came along to just stick 'em in. I fear, though, in this case it may have been the result of a recurring racist policy of the era, to not permit black & white entertainers to appear on screen side by side.

Even were the film all downhill after Nat, his appearance is enough. But in fact this minor film has many smile-worthy moments.

Miss Dorothy Larson (Bonita Granville) is looking for her fiance James Glenn, missing for three months. She's come to Los Angeles from Minneapolis on her detectiving journey.

This potentially serious element is plopped down in the midst of a tale of various people who have as their goal in life to be in the audience of a popular radio program called Breakfast in Hollywood.

Tom Brennerman is the radio host, & in fact his was an actual, innocuous radio program. He's not a very interesting guy, but it's slightly entertaining to see him interacting with the breakfasting audience, including Gary Cooper's mother, Joan Crawford's mother, Brennerman's mother, & Hedda Hopper.

We're shown the lives of various individuals & how their experiences are interwoven with the radio show. Elvira Spriggens (Zazu Pitts) wears silly hats, hoping to get Brennerman's attention from the audience. Francis Cartwright (Billy Burke) is being cheated on by her husband. Annie Reed (Beulah Bondi) is 82 years old when she's hit by a car. And Dorothy in search of her husband will discover that he up & married someone else & just never informed her.

But getting hit by a car or discovering one's sweetheart is a betrayer is never all that tragic in this tale of a radio host's good deeds. Dorothy's heartbreak won't last, as Tom Brennerman gets mixed up with her case, & with help of the radio show gets her together with Ken Smith (Edward Ryan), the one she's really meant to be with. It's all just terribly lighthearted triviality.

Among the radio performers are the comical guests Spike Jones & His City Slickers, performing the silly tune "A Hat for Hedda Hopper," with Del Porter vocalist. The City Slickers also perform a version of "Glow Worm" with lyrics about how "night falls silently" attended by lots of cacophonous noise. Spike still has legions of nostalgia fans, who won't want to miss this film just for the sake of his nonsense numbers.

Crooner Andry Russell sings "Wish Ring' & "Magic is the Moonlight," as well as "Amour, Amour, Amour" partly in Spanish. He's sparkly-eyed youthful & cute, but it's pretty clear why nobody remembers him now.

The film is overall enough of a screwball comedy to get by as good enough, & pretty much the same can be said of the musical choices (after Nat that is, who is great). It will have extra appeal for old time radio buffs than for devotees of musical comedy, but it is a film without pretence to importance, just eager to entertain.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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