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Torch Singer (1933)
Topic Started: Mar 15 2017, 07:13 PM (126 Views)
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Torch Singer (1933) Dir. Alexander Hall & George Somnes
A Paramount Picture
71 min. / B&W / 1.37:1
On DVD from Universal

Unwed mother Claudette Colbert is forced to give her baby up for adoption and becomes a cheap nightclub singer, then a ritzy nightclub singer, then a radio singer, then the unlikely hostess of a hit radio show for kids - and determines to find her long-lost daughter. Meanwhile, the kid's daddy, David Manners, is back from China and doesn't know he's a daddy. And Claudette's boss is Ricardo Cortez, playing a very nice guy, while all of us in the audience are going, "Hey, that's Ricardo Cortez! Isn't he going to murder anybody?!?!?"

A fun movie that's a tour de force for Miss Colbert - her radio performances as "Aunt Jenny", broadcast from a series of drunken parties in her swank apartment, are especially a hoot. She's not much of a singer, frankly, which adds to the oddball atmosphere of the whole movie, and the ending kills whatever good feeling the whole thing was likely to leave in our heart but what th' heck. She's a wow in both the dramatic sequences AND the skimpy dresses, and it's so disconcerting to see Cortez play a nice guy that it may well rank as the worst miscasting of its time. Manners? Well, he's okay, I guess, in his David Mannersy-way, y'know?

Million-dollar Dialog:

Claudette's parting words to her young daughter at the orphanage: "Maybe you'll take a mother's advice before she goes. You might as well, that's all she's got to give you. Don't ever let any man make a sucker out of you! Make him know what you're worth. Anything they get for nothing is always cheap!"

Torch Singer can be found on the Pre-Code Hollywood Collection of the Universal Backlot Series.

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