Johnny Bennet (William Marshall) has a Boston fiance, upper crust Olivia Radford (Gail Patrick), who doesn't believe in him one whit.
She wants him to give up his dreams of being a composer & take a real job as a banker, so as to support her at a level to which she has been accustomed.
Fortunately he meets Patrica (Jane Frazee), a dancer who does believe in him. She's at first in love with Johnny's roommate (James Ellison), who is an artist who paints "calendar girls."
He is a bit of a horndog & not the best choice for a girl who wants true love, but dim bulb though she is, eventually Patricia realizes Johnny's for her.
From the obvious set-ups & follow-through, we know everything that is going to happen in Calender Girl (1945; re-released as Stardust & Sweet Memory, 1951) in under ten minutes.
We get exactly the exaggerated level of sentimental twaddle expected, a by-the-numbers comedy-romance built from stock characters, circumstances, & gags. But at a scant hour's length, it never quite wears out its welcome.
And the tunes are kind of sweet. There are no "big" numbers like in some Busby Berkley extravaganza, but it's a pleasing "little" musical.
Admittedly they're the unhippest songs imaginable, as though the Victorian age never ended & the swing era never arose.
Well, it is set at the turn of the century when swing hadn't arose, but still kind of odd that a film of 1949 really would have such dated arrangements. The usual model for such films was Meet Me In Saint Louis (1944), a period setting with slightly nostalgic songs to go with the setting, but up-dated tempos & arrangements.
"Let's Have Some Pretzels & Beer" provided an unusually bad group sing, but "Have I Told You Lately?" sung twice in the course of the film is a delight of nostalgic composion. The songwriters are Jimmy McHugh & Harold Adamson.
With each other or with other writing partners they were responsible for such classic tunes as "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "It's a Most Unusual Day," the "Woody Woodpecker Song," themes for "I Love Lucy" & "Wyatt Earp" television series, and much else that infiltrated popular culture in a lasting way.
And Calendar Girl does include a couple songs that live up to the composer's & lyricist's repuation.
The title song "Calendar Girl" is wondrously sung Kenny Baker, probably best remembered for his performance in Stage Door Canteen (1943).
His film career didn't flourish as greatly as his talent deserved, perhaps because he turned into a religious wacko & only wanted to sing about Jesus. But in the late 30s & much of the '40s, he was well known from radio performances & B musicals. Calendar Girl was his last film.
Considering the feature's brevedy it packs in a good lot of numbers, two & maybe three just about memorable. Neither lead are great singers (Frazee can at least dance), but by bringing in Kenny Baker & Janet Martin for the important numbers, we do get some good vocal talent.
When the leads can't also be the singers, such musicals never rise above a certain level of so-so. For instance, Calendar Girl required the vocal talent of Kenny Baker & the acting of William Marshall to equal one William Powell. So Calendar Girl is no classic, yet the film is worth seeing, & deserves restoration, as the versions now in circulation leave something to be desired.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl