Monday, 14 April 2014

The Song You Gave Me (1933)
Bebe Daniels
This is a rather curious little British musical: It's set in Austria, rather than England and it features an international cast (rather than the usual British stars of stage and music hall). Unfortunately, it shares certain other points with many British musicals of the period: the story is rather predictable and the songs aren't exactly memorable.
It tells the story of Mitzi (Bebe Daniels) ...
Bebe Daniels
... a popular singing star who is pursued by a trio of caricature potential suitors who are referred to as her 'Three Musketeers':
There's the Baron (Frederick Lloyd) ...
Frederick Lloyd
... an aristocrat working in a government ministry who seems to have his nose stuck perpetually inside a champagne glass, or as we see here, the world's largest brandy glass:
Frederick Lloyd & Lester Matthews
Then there's Tony (Claude Hulbert), who is a comically effete idiot and is the fool of the bunch:
Claude Hulbert
And finally there's Max (Lester Matthews) who gives business advice to Mitzi. To be honest, with his pencil moustache, he just doesn't look trustworthy:
Lester Matthews
 After a struggling composer Karl (Victor Varconi) ...
Victor Varconi
... insults Mitzi by walking out in the middle of her performance in a nighclub, you just know that they are eventually going to fall in love.
Bebe Daniels & Victor Varconi
It's fair enough that they should get together, after all they were both - unlike the rest of the cast - Hollywood stars. Daniels had appeared in countless films as a teenager, had a strong career through the 1920s, starred opposite Harold Lloyd in a number of short films (Lloyd was reputedly in love with her) and was the female lead in 42nd Street. Having made more than 200 films, she settled in London and eventually worked as an interior designer.
Varconi was a Hungarian who moved to Hollywood in the 1920s. His career path as a handsome leading man took a turn, like so many others, with the coming of sound. His heavy accent saw him moving to playing villains, eventually playing Rudolf Hess in a 1944 film. Listening to his accent, it's like Bela Lugosi but with more acting  talent.
Apart from unmemorable songs, the film has the usual 1930s British cinematic injection of glamour. Rather than seeing Daniels in her underwear, we see her in her home gymnasium showing herself off in a way that wasn't really necessary but no doubt was intended to put 'bums on seats':
Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels
We also get the obligatory 'let's all laugh at the fairy' scene, when a group of men arrive to be interviewed for the job of Mitzi's secretary:

There's also some saucy innuendo, courtesy of Mitzi's friend Emmy (Iris Ashley):
Iris Ashley
Iris Ashley & Bebe Daniels
 Wondering where Karl goes in the evening, Mitzi asks:
"What can a man possibly do between 9 and 11?"
To which Emmy replies:
"I know a man who can do a lot in 15 minutes."
Prompting the response:
"Is that how you got that necklace?" 
It's not really a film for everyone, but it's light hearted and lasts just over an hour, so it's certainly worth watching. And for those who are interested, it marked the first on screen appearance of Stewart Granger in an uncredited role as a waiter at a golf club:
Stewart Granger
And since it's on a DVD with four films for just a tenner, it's worth buying. The set includes Over She Goes which is genuinely worth watching and contains a number of strong songs. So buy it for that and get The Song You Gave Me, Music Hath Charms and Harmony Heaven as a bonus!

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