Set in the colorful Prohibition era, this "genuinely captivating" (Los Angeles Times) musical stars Alice Faye as a rising Ziegfeld star who is faithful to her crooked scheming husband (Tyrone Power) even after his showdow... more »n with the law. Co-star Al Jolson performs many of his legendary songs. Behind the Scenes "Rose of Washington Square" is one of Alice Faye's most popular screen roles and marks her final teaming with Tyrone Power. The film also features some of her most memorable songs, including "My Man."« less
"The history of the cinema is filled with great movies; but more than that, there are special "moments," from the great and even the not-so-great films that thanks to the magic of the movies have been preserved for all time, and now thanks to video and DVD are readily accessible for the viewing pleasure of audiences in living rooms everywhere. These movies are treasures to be cherished and savored, because they're not simply entertainment, but time capsules in which history has in some cases been inadvertently gathered and stored for posterity. And one of the jewels in this vast treasure chest that is the cinema is "Rose of Washington Square," a 1939 picture from 20th Century Fox, filmed in glorious B&W, directed by Gregory Ratoff and starring Tyrone Power, Alice Faye and Al Jolson. Power is Bart Clinton, a charismatic petty thief and con man whose charm and good looks keeps him one step ahead of the law as he moves from one scam to another. He's not such a bad guy, but more like a salesman without a product who utilizes his natural abilities to put a buck in his pocket. Faye is Rose Sargent, a struggling vaudeville singer, teamed up with Ted Cotter (Jolson), who together have hopes and dreams of making it to the big time. But worlds collide when Bart and Rose meet and fall in love. Ted sees Bart for what he is, but his advice to Rose falls on deaf ears, blinded as she is by her unconditional love for a man who stands in the way of not only her success as an artist, but her happiness, as well. And in the grandest tradition of Hollywood, their story plays out amid the excitement of that most famous of all avenues of aspirations, Broadway, and that town of towns, New York. It's a good story, but with a plot that's far from unique, which in the grand scheme of things doesn't make any difference. This is solid and involving entertainment that affords the viewer the opportunity of seeing three bona fide stars together, and all doing what they do best. And just seeing them together on the screen is a moment all it's own; Power, Faye and Jolson, captured forever and immortalized through the magic of the motion picture. And at the time, who knew? To Darryl F. Zanuck this was no doubt just another picture that hopefully would produce a profitable bottom line for the studio. Did any of them have any idea what this would mean to audiences sixty years later, or what kind of legacy they were creating for future generations? One of the best looking actors ever to grace the silver screen, Tyrone Power had a dominating presence and commanded attention in any role he played, from light, romantic fare like "Thin Ice," to bringing the anti-hero, "Jesse James," to life or the swashbuckling title character in "The Mark of Zorro." He could play a heel like Bart Clinton and make him believable, or a guy soul searching for something better, as he did in "The Razor's Edge." And if there's any doubt as to how good an actor Power was, one only has to look as far as his performance in "Nightmare Alley" to realize that he was so much more than just another pretty face. He was the man women wanted and the one other men envied because he seemed to have it all. He did; and it showed in every character he ever created for the screen. Power, however, did not corner the market on talent and charisma in this film, but was matched every step of the way by his absolutely beguiling co-star, Alice Faye. Beautiful and gifted, Faye could sing and interpret a song in a way that was nothing less than transporting. Her vocal expressions and the emotion that dances in her eyes and plays across her face while she sings created a number of those special moments in a number of films. In this one, when she sings the heart-felt "My Man" while an incognito Power (Bart's on the lam at this point) sits huddled in the audience at the back of the auditorium, it'll grab you by the throat and send chills down your spine. And that is truly one of those memorable "Moments" that have made movies such an everlasting part of our lives and culture. When Faye turns those eyes of hers, fraught with emotion, to the camera as she sings, it's mesmerizing-- a moment that will hold you transfixed and sweep you away to another time and another place. Which is exactly what happens when Al Jolson takes the spotlight as Ted Cotter. Jolson was perhaps the entertainer of his time, a man who entertained millions from the footlights of the most famous stages around the world. And what a treasure it is to have even part of his act preserved here on film. Some of the songs he made famous, like "Rock-a-bye-Your-Baby With A Dixie Melody," and the one that became his trademark, "Mammy," are seamlessly integrated into this story. Although this kind of entertainment may not be readily embraced by younger viewers-- those raised on hard rock and grunge, for example-- there is a magic in Jolson and his songs that defines an era, and with his unique voice and magnetic personality, it is riveting to watch him now in this film. The supporting cast includes William Frawley (Harry), Joyce Compton (Peggy), Hobart Cavanaugh (Whitey), Louis Prima (Bandleader), Horace McMahon (Irving) and Moroni Olsen (Buck). It may not be the greatest musical-- or movie-- ever made, but nevertheless, "Rose of Washington Square" is a treasure, for all the reasons discussed here and more. It's a film that will be enjoyed and appreciated on any number of different levels by anyone who watches it; pure entertainment, with a particular magic all it's own. This one's a keeper. It's the magic of the movies."
AL JOLSON STEALS THE SHOW
James Morello | UNITED STATES OF AMERICA | 04/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie used to appear on television from time to time and I couldn't wait to see it when I was a kid in the 1960's. Now with this video edition, complete with deleted musical scenes, Al Jolson is a joy to watch. Alice Faye and Tyrone Power were originally given this as a vehicle, and Al Jolson's career was at a low point. He was thrown a bone and was given an oppourtunity to appear alongside these two other fine actors. When reviewers first previewed the movie they said Jolson stole the movie from the other two. The Jolson stage sequences are PURE MAGIC. When filming The Jolson Story in 1945, it is said Larry Parks picked up alot of Jolson's way of putting over a song by studying this movie. Take a look at California Here I Come and compare it to Parks' remarkable version in the latter movie. When this video first came out I was amused that it was part of the Alice Faye collection. I like Alice Faye, but lets be serious. This movie is JOLSON, JOLSON, JOLSON from beginning to end."
Slashed but enjoyable
Douglas M | 09/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When you view this film, you may find it very choppy like I did. The "Hidden Hollywood" series have revealed that a lot of the film was cut from the released prints. At least 3 musical numbers disappeared completely, including Alice Faye's memorable "I'll See You in My Dreams", of which 2 versions exist with and without a chorus. Stills also reveal dramatic scenes missing. Apparantly, film was shot by another director, Roy del Ruth, then reshot by Gregory Ratoff but the truth about this is yet to surface. The direction lacks imagination.
What remains is not bad, just frustrating and lacking continuity. The plot is in fact the story of Fanny Brice, the subject of "Funny Girl". Faye plays a vaudeville performer who reaches the big time in the Ziegfield Follies. Along the way, she falls for small time crook, Tyrone Power, who ends the film with a prison sentence but Faye sobbing that she will wait for him. Brice sued the studio for plagiarism and the studio settled out of court.
Alice Faye sings memorably as usual, although some of her numbers are interrrupted with disruptive dialogue. She also displays a brittle quality to her acting which was new to the audience. She sings Fanny Brice's signature tune "My Man" with passionate warmth and comparison to Barbra Streisand's version in "Funny Girl" demonstrates just what a fine singer Faye was. Tyrone Power is perfectly cast as the charming heel, a not dissimilar role to his one "In Old Chicago" which he did so well. Al Jolson is electrifying and even likeable (now that was unexpected) as Faye's vaudeville buddy. He gives the dialogue a real charge.
Let's hope that those dedicated people at UCLA can provide us with a restored version using the original script and issue it with the released version on DVD as Fox has with "In Old Chicago". A much better film may be lurking hidden away."
Highly Enjoyable Musical
Samantha Kelley | USA | 03/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rose of Washington Square is set in the twenties although it doesn't blatantly say so in the beginning of the film. However, the music is jazz, the law is prohibition, and the zenith of a career is being a Ziegfeld star. The film starts out with Ted (Al Jolson) and Rose (Alice Faye) who work together in vaudeville struggling to make it. On a whim, Rose leaves the group and meets Bart (Tyrone Power), a charismatic man involved in shady business. She devotes herself to him no matter what happens, and he takes it for granted as he self-destructs. Ted is in love with Rose, but he loves her so much that he will do anything for her, including help her with her romance with Bart.
Alice Faye is amazing in this film, beautiful and talented. Her voice is smooth and professional and her dancing is natural and entertaining. Tyrone Power is great in his role; he brings arrogance, charm, and youth to the screen. Al Jolson is always a delight to see. His acting scenes are very good, but it is sad to say that in his old age, his performing dwindled. His dancing seemed almost pathetic and uninspired, but his singing was on the mark everytime.
The VHS opens with several deleted musical sequences including "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" which was used to score several scenes in the film. Al Jolson sings his own classics like "Mammy" and "Toot Toot Tootsie" while Faye re-enacts Fanny Brice's touching "My Man" and energizes the long "Rose of Washington Square" number."
Fine musical with superlative acting, singing and dancing
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 06/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
Rose of Washington Square features great singing and dancing; and it boasts a fine cast with incredible acting. This is clearly one of the better Fox musicals; it'll keep your interest as the plot moves along at a good pace. The choreography and the cinematography work very well; and the quality of the print is actually pretty good after its restoration although there was still a moment here and there where the film could use some extra polish.
When the film starts, we meet several main characters: there's Rose Sargent (Alice Faye) who works in vaudeville clubs and speakeasies with her friend and showbiz partner Ted Cotter (Al Jolson). After they fail to convince their "agent" Harry Long (William Frawley) that they have what it takes for bigger and better things, Rose and her friend Peggy (Joyce Compton) decide to take a brief respite from the city into the country. They do indeed go--and Rose soon falls in love at first sight with "Bart" Barton DeWitt Clinton (Tyrone Power). Despite the fact that Rose eventually sees the extent to which Bart is really going against the law, she decides to stick by her man. That could cost her; Bart has fancy merchandise shipped to a home of a rich friend, Major Buck Russell (Moroni Olsen) as part of a scam to make it look like the store shipped a far more expensive item than he ordered by "mistake;" and Bart's dealings with some pretty shady characters don't stop after Rose enters his life. Bart's business goes against what Rose's showbiz partner Ted Cotter believes in; Ted tries to tell Rose that she should stay away from Bart but Rose is intent on loving her man. All the while, police detective Mike Cavanaugh (Charles C. Wilson) is trailing Bart, just waiting for Bart to slip up so badly that he can finally arrest him.
But the plot is not just about bad times--good things happen, too. Harry added a paid drunk to liven up Ted's show; and that worked to get Ted noticed! In addition, Rose is noticed by agents for Florenz Ziegfeld when she sings at a party to honor Ted's achievements in the theater. After a few very brief plot twists, Rose joins Ziegfeld's Follies as a star and she wows them with her performances!
Of course, with this being a musical we get marvelous song and dance numbers--much better than I'm used to seeing from Fox. There's an outstanding song and dance routine when Rose sings "Rose of Washington Square;" the dancing took my breath away! Al Jolson performs several of his classic numbers, although I wished very badly he hadn't done them in that awful blackface. I cannot give this a five star rating because of that. The finale features Alice Faye doing a sublime rendition of "My Man;" and it leaves you wanting more.
It may seem as if I've given it all away, but of course I really haven't. The plot can still go anywhere--and in fact there are several plot twists I'm leaving out on purpose so I don't ruin it for you. Will Peggy, Rose's friend, ever become a star in her own right? Will Bart ever get caught by the law; and what about those guys he does his business with? Will Ted ever lose his patience with Rose as she stubbornly refuses to leave Bart's side? No plot spoilers here, folks--watch the film and find out!
The DVD comes with a few really nice bonuses. There's a fascinating featurette on Alice Faye, a restoration comparison and more.
Rose of Washington Square is an excellent musical with a plot that is much meatier than the average musical offers--and that's terrific. Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Al Jolson all give memorable performances; I love it! I highly recommend this film for fans of classic movie musicals. "