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Glorifying the American Girl
Glorifying the American Girl
Actor: Billie Burke,Irving Berlin,Helen Morgan,Eddie Cantor Rudy Vallee
Director: Millard Webb John Harkrider
Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2007     1hr 30min

An early all-star musical spectacular featuring Flo Ziegfield and the greatest names in show business.


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Movie Details

Actor: Billie Burke,Irving Berlin,Helen Morgan,Eddie Cantor Rudy Vallee
Director: Millard Webb John Harkrider
Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Studio: Alpha Home Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2007
Original Release Date: 02/27/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 02/27/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Well, that's show biz for ya...
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 04/23/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Glorifying The American Girl turned out to be much better than I expected. The acting and dialogue at times weren't the best although the last 30 minutes of the film provides us with a superb idea of what Flo Ziegfeld's stage show must have been like before he was financially ruined in the stock market crash of 1929. Look for some great performances throughout the film from Mary Eaton as Gloria Hughes, Dan Healy as Danny Miller and Edward Crandall as Buddy Moore.

When the action begins, Buddy, Gloria and Barbara (Gloria Shea) work in Heimer's Department store as clerks in the music department. Gloria sings the songs for the sheet music that the store sells; and she's got a crush on Buddy who is very much in love with her. Barbara has hidden feelings for Buddy; but Buddy is too distracted with Gloria to even notice Barbara very much.

At a company picnic, Gloria is noticed by a sleazy unappealing guy named Danny Miller; and they eventually go on the road touring together as a dance duo. This pleases Gloria's pushy stage mother (Sarah Edwards) but Buddy Moore, stuck back at the department store, feels sad that Gloria left him for a show business career. Eventually Gloria gets noticed by one of Ziegfeld's talent scouts and Danny Miller claws his way into Gloria's profits when he signs her to a five year contract--before she finds out that Ziegfeld wants her and not him. Danny's now wealthy for doing nothing but keeping his eye on Gloria to make sure he gets his share of her earnings.

Of course, there's the unfinished business with Barbara and Buddy essentially living the same lives they always did before Gloria left. Barbara is critically injured when a car hits her; and that also creates even more of a mess for all involved.

But this is life, so the plot can still go anywhere from here. Will Gloria make it with Ziegfeld--he has pretty high standards? What happens once Barbara is injured--how does it affect their lives? Will Gloria ever come back to Buddy or will she stay in show business? No plot spoilers here, folks--you'll just have to watch the film to find out! One thing I will say, though--you do get the firm message from this film that fame comes at a price.

They note that this is an early "talkie" musical; and wow, are they right! The sound quality isn't always so good; and the quality of the print could still use more restoration. However, the camera plays some good tricks; the cinematography is especially outstanding. There are very brief cameos by then New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker, Billie Burke and others as they enter the theater the night of Gloria's opening with the show. Eddie Cantor also does an excellent skit as part of the show.

The DVD has next to nothing in the extras department. You can pick scenes and look at the catalogue of the other movies sold by Alpha Home Entertainment but that's about it.

In short, Glorifying The American Girl is, despite its flaws, a strong example of an early musical filmed just after sound was truly introduced into film. I highly recommend this for film buffs; and classic movie aficionados will appreciate this one, too.
A rare look into entertainment history
calvinnme | 03/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Just because I gave this movie four stars doesn't mean it will be entertaining to everyone or even most people. Its main value today is to get a rare glimpse at one of the earliest talkie musicals, and also see and hear what a Ziegfeld show might have been like right before the famous showman went broke in the stock market crash of 1929. Florenz Ziegfeld himself actually produced this film, which features his Ziegfeld Follies girls. The movie actually does have a plot of sorts, although its purpose in this film, as in many of the early talkie musicals, is mainly to set up the singing and dancing numbers. This film, though, is unusual in that the plot does actually teach a little unexpected lesson on the price of fame.

The film opens with Gloria, Barbara, and Buddy selling sheet music in a New York City department store. Gloria and Buddy have been sweethearts since childhood, but Gloria wants a career before she settles down. To complicate matters, Barbara is secretly in love with Buddy. A vaudeville hoofer sees Gloria dancing at a store picnic and wants to take her on as a dance partner. They take their act on the road and are spotted by one of Ziegfeld's talent scouts. Back in New York at the audition, the Follies want Gloria but not her partner. Unfortunately for Gloria, though, she signed a five year contract splitting all her earnings with her partner. Gloria becomes the star of Ziegfeld's new show, and this sets up the lavish production numbers of the last third of the film.

The movie contains very brief shots of Irving Berlin, Billie Burke, and NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker, supposedly as they are entering the theatre to see the show. Particularly entertaining in the Ziegfeld production part of the film are performances by Helen Morgan, Rudy Valee, and Eddie Cantor. If you look closely you can spot Johnny Weissmuller wearing nothing but a fig leaf. You have to remember that this film was made before there was any effective production code, so you'll likely be shocked at the revealing nature of some of the costumes in the production numbers. Also, at one point of the film, Gloria's mother actually utters the D-word quite clearly and without any implied effrontery when she is trying to open up her reading glasses. This is a full ten years before such a big deal was made of Rhett Butler using the same word in "Gone with the Wind". Unfortunately, although the last third of the film was shot in Technicolor, the DVD version is in black and white. Also, because of the limitations of technology and the age of this film, there are many long shots of the production numbers with the Ziegfeld Follies girls that make it impossible to see the details of the lavish costumes and sets. However, in spite of its flaws, I'd recommend it to anyone interested in this period of history and these very early talkie gems of which so few are remaining in any form."
Enjoy the innocence of it all, as well as Eddy Cantor and He
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 07/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"We should encourage each other to smile indulgently at the antics and musical tastes of our great-grandparents. After all, our own great-grandchildren will soon enough be doing the same to us. In Glorifying the American Girl, the story of Gloria Hughes' ambition to be a musical star is appliqued onto the Broadway extravaganza of a Florenz Ziegfeld show. We get songs, dances, fabulous costumes, show girls, ukulele plucking, comedy skits, a near-fatal accident, lechery, tearful farewells, love lost and love found and, of course, a big finale where Gloria's success is tempered only by the sadness of a love too long delayed, yet still made satisfying by the happiness of her two best friends. In other words, there's much to snicker about...just don't take your own all-too-soon-to-be-dated enthusiasms too seriously.

Briefly, Gloria (Mary Eaton) works with Buddy (Edward Crandall) and Barbara (Gloria Shea) at Heiman's Department store. Buddy plays piano while Gloria sings the latest songs so that customers will buy the sheet music. Barbara is a clerk. Buddy loves Gloria. Barbara loves Buddy. Gloria thinks she loves Buddy. When Danny Miller (Dan Healy), part of the song and dance team, Miller and Mooney, fires his latest Mooney at the company picnic, he spots Gloria dancing. Before long Gloria has left Heiman's and become the replacement Mooney. While Buddy pines for Gloria and Barbara pines for Buddy, Miller and Gloria travel the country with their act. They're spotted by a scout working for Florenz Ziegfeld and arrive in New York with big hopes and big dreams. It doesn't work out. But Gloria fights for a chance to show her stuff and lands a spot in the show. Danny, who is something of a lech as well as a good dancer, hangs around because of a contract he had Gloria sign. Now opening night approaches. But wait. Barbara has been hit by a taxi and is in critical condition. Buddy realizes he loves Barbara. Gloria goes on with the show. In a miracle of careless editing, Buddy and Barbara are in their seats, part of the happy, applauding audience as Gloria, learning at the last minute that Buddy and Barbara are wed, achieves fame.

What makes all this dated nonsense watchable is the innocence of the acting, the songs and dances, and, during the last third of the movie, the Ziegfeld Follies on stage. The Follies were lush, fabulous variety shows. We have an odd tableau that features nuns, a bishop, scantily clad girls and half naked chorus boys probably doing something religiously questionable; there's Helen Morgan sitting on a piano telling us another sad story in song about her man; here's Rudy Vallee singing to us that he's just a vagabond lover looking for the girl in his vagabond dreams; front and center are high-kicking chorines with none of the self-conscious angst of A Chorus Line; they just keep slapping the leather to the floor. And just before Gloria's big starring number, here's Eddie Cantor with an associate and a stooge doing a long comedy bit about a customer unfortunate enough to enter the tailor shop where Cantor works. While Vallee looks much like the self-satisfied, dirty old man he turned into, Helen Morgan is great. She could deliver a torch song like few before or since. And Eddie Cantor gives all us aging youngsters a chance to see what made him such a big star in vaudeville and on Broadway. The humor is ethnic (e.g., broad and Jewish), the timing is perfect and the routine keeps building. I don't know who his stooge was or the fellow who played Cantor's boss, but they were first-rate second bananas.

This movie was supposed to have had the Ziegfeld Follies sequences shot in Technicolor. Perhaps somewhere there is a VHS or DVD version that reflects this. Most copies I've heard of have just been slapped together as cheaply as possible with no color and, often, with a lot of chopping. In the version I have, Barbara's auto accident, Buddy's promise of love, their marriage and then their being seated in the audience while Gloria triumphs is cut and edited incomprehensibly. The movie is in the public domain and looks every bit of it. Perhaps not much of a loss, but it would have been good to have seen Morgan and Cantor under better circumstances."
Talking Curiosity
R. A. Lonmon | Cookham, Berks. England | 04/12/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Two factors drew me into purchasing this product: that this film is an early talkie and Flo Ziegfeld. The film, like the curate's egg, is good in parts but has problems with long and boring dialogue, especially the speech made by the boss at the firm's outing. That said, it is a very interesting period piece showing life as it was for ordinary people in the late 20s. There are set pieces towards the end of the film of the Ziegfeld Girls arranged by Flo Ziegfeld himself (which are less spectacular than legend would have one believe) plus a rather over-long sketch by Eddie Cantor, probably hilarious in its day, but which is now very dated. The biggest disappointment of all is that the film is black and white throughout, whereas the opening credits promise the staged scenes in Technicolour. I think that had these colour scenes been restored, the DVD company could have charged that little bit extra and we would have been given a superb window on our cinematic heritage and I, for one,would not have been so stingy on the star rating!"