Rhythm in the Clouds (1937) introduces us to Judy (Patricia Ellis) who is a songwriter trying to get her music heard. But Tin Pan Alley is a man's game so she can't get through the door.
In consequence she lost her apartment for lack of funds. By a complete fraud & forgery, she moves into the apartment of established songwriter Bill McKay (Warren Hull) while he's on the road.
While squatting in the songwriter's apartment, she takes a phone call from someone eager for new songs. She delivers her own, but with McKay's name on the sheets above her name. At last she gets a sale!
The music includes "Don't Ever Change" which was later a minor hit for Tommy Dorsey, & Irving Berlin's "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," one day to become the Miss American pageant themesong. It's unintentionally funny when the story makes a to-do of "Pretty Girl" being stolen from someone, & they didn't mean Irving Berlin.
When Bill Hale returns, what a mess awaits, as Judy gets herself caught up in a love-hate romance. It's all in great part for the sake of the music despite that there's not a lot of that. We get "Hawaiian Hospitality" with back-up from a Hawaiian band & such lame lyrics as "I'm on the beach at Waikiki," & a sweet upbeat diddy, "Two Hearts are Dancing."
The film's three new songs were written by competent tunesmiths Lou Handman & Walter Hirsch. These pieces are okay but both men had done better. With his greatest partner, Roy Turk, Handman was responsible for "If You're Lonely Tonight," a hit for singers as diverse as Doris Day & Elvis Presley, though written in the Roaring 'Twenties. Walter Hirsch's biggest success was probably "Deed I Do" written with Fred Rose.
Rhythm in the Clouds is really not much as B-musicals go, & it's not even a full hour long in the most widely circulated edit (it'd be slightly over an hour if a restored version were available). Still, there's nothing wrong with it; it's pleasant enough.
There's a moment in Rhythm in the Clouds when we see sheet music for Republic Pictures' previous year's Sitting on the Moon (1936). The two films are two of a kind, B musicals about an hour each. This one has a couple original songs by Sidney D. Mitchell & Sam H. Stept.
A charming songwriter, Danny West (Roger Pryor), & his comic sidekick lyricist Mike (William Newell), have songwriters block.
An actress formerly a star, Paula Blaire (Grace Bradley), had been blacklisted for being tempermental. For three years out of work, she's humbled & emotionally more matured, but can't convince any film producer to give her a new chance to prove her worth.
Danny falls for Polly & feels only she can break his block. He wants to make her the new voice of his radio music with the expectation that this will lead to her getting back into pictures.
Unexpectedly, however, he discovers he got married in Mexico while on a bender. When Paula finds out, she's unforgiving. The girl Danny married won't go for a divorce unless she's paid $10,000.
Complications & miscommunications ensue, dousing the spark of love. But such lightweight musical comedies never bugger the happy ending, so Blossom (Joyce Compton) who he thought he married while too drunk to remember turns out to be "a marriage racketeer" & the unremembered marriage was bogus all along. So Paula & Danny will have the true nuptials.
The title number "Sitting on the Moon" around which so many scenes are built is, alas, a bad song. Too bad, as Roger Pryor is a bit like a young Dick Powell, & Grace Bradley has a pleasing modernity about her. They could've become bigger stars if they'd had better material than was their bad luck at Republic.
"Lost in My Dreams" however is a pretty good number woven into the happy-ever-after climax. The songwriters were to some extent second-string but were responsible for great things elsewhere.
Stept when partnered with Bud Green wrote "That's My Weakness Now," a hit for Helen Kane, & with Lew Brown & Charles Tobias wrote "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (with anyone else but me)," a giant hit for the Andrew Sisters. Sydney Mitchell was a workmanlike lyricist for many partners, his best known work probably for "That Sugar Baby of Mine."
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