|Eleanor Powell and Robert Young|
Believe me, the last thing I want to do is say a harsh word about any of the paltry handful of films left to us by the great Eleanor Powell. When she retired in her prime in 1944 to get married, a terrible blow was dealt to the world of movie musicals, and I'm not sure MGM ever really recovered (although signing Ann Miller in 1948 was a solid step in the right direction). She matched an endearing girl next door charm with just a touch of Hollywood glamor and the fastest damned footwork you've ever seen. She starred in only nine films, plus a couple of supporting roles, far too few for a woman of her tremendous talent. While several of these films, such as Born to Dance and all three Broadway Melody titles, rank among the finest musicals ever made, others just don't make the cut.
Honolulu positively reeks of competence, but competence alone is not enough to make it stand out among the high caliber of musicals MGM was cranking out like clockwork. The plot is trite and predictable, but more than enough to carry a musical comedy whose audience doesn't demand a whole lot of realism from a movie, so long as it has enough catchy songs, flashy costumes and sets, and snappy dialog to while away an hour and a half pleasantly enough. Honolulu has all of these things, just not in high enough concentrations to be memorable.
|Robert Young and Robert Young|
Powell is a vision as usual as Gracie's dancing partner who falls for the movie star half of the equation, but neither the role nor her choreography was particularly demanding. Her dances are interesting and well conceived--she does the hula in taps in a delightfully skimpy bikini and hula skirt--but they're far too low key to be the least bit impressive, at least not for those who have seen Powell truly exert herself. Her chemistry with Young is minimal, and at the end of the day I find that although the plot carried my interest and attention, it left my sympathies back at the starting gate, and I really didn't much care who married who at the ending.
|Powell is so clean cut she makes even this costume look wholesome.|