Saturday, August 27, 2022



SITTING PRETTY is a 1933 musical from Paramount, directed by Harry Joe Brown, and starring Jack Oakie, Jack Haley, Ginger Rogers, and Thelma Todd. 

Chick Parker (Jack Oakie) and Pete Pendleton (Jack Haley) are songwriters who travel to Hollywood, hoping to break into the movies. While there they befriend an aspiring hoofer named Dorothy (Ginger Rogers), and they get hired to write songs for a film starring egotistical actress Gloria Duval (Thelma Todd). Gloria gets her hooks into Chick, and gives him a swelled head, which causes him to break away from Pete and Dorothy. A chance encounter with a drunken movie director winds up bringing everyone back together for a happy ending. 

SITTING PRETTY appears to be an attempt by Paramount to copy the Warner Bros. musicals of the early 1930s, but it has nowhere near the pizzazz or spunk of a 42ND STREET or FOOTLIGHT PARADE. Jack Oakie and Jack Haley are all right in the lead roles, but the plot involving their characters is very thin. Oakie as Chick is fast-talking and brash, while Haley's Pete is the decent nice guy who has to deal with all the problems Chick causes (at least Haley winds up with Ginger Rogers at the end). If this movie had, say, James Cagney and Dick Powell playing Oakie and Haley's roles, then we might have had something. 

Ginger Rogers is cute and perky as Dorothy, but she really doesn't have much to do (she does gets to dance a little). Thelma Todd plays a variation on one of her "other woman" roles, and she even gets to sing a little. The movie would have been much improved if there was more of Ginger and Thelma and less of Oakie and Haley. Mention needs to be made of young Jerry Tucker as Buzz, Dorothy's sarcastic kid brother, who steals every scene he's in. 

Thelma Todd and Jack Oakie

The songs featured in SITTING PRETTY were written by Mack Gordon & Harry Revel (who both have cameos in the film). The tunes are pleasant enough, but the only one that is memorable is "Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?", which is used for the finale. This climatic number tries to be a Busby Berkeley-style spectacular, with a troupe of dancing girls dressed in suggestive costumes and overhead camera angles, but it lacks the grandiose go-for-broke sensibility that permeates Berkeley's work. 

SITTING PRETTY is a decent, if lightweight film that would have been better if it had given Ginger Rogers and Thelma Todd more to do. 

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