As all-star revues go, Star Spangled Rhythm is one of the better ones. Forget the ridiculous storyline that has been grafted onto the proceedings. While Betty Hutton, Eddie Bracken, and Victor Moore do their best to make it lively, it's superfluous -- although it does give one the unique opportunity to see Preston Sturges in a cameo threatening to move to MGM! The only real reason for watching Rhythm is to catch all the specialty numbers that make up the last part of the film and which feature just about every Paramount star on the lot. That this also features a number of Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer songs only adds to its appeal, especially when those songs include the magnificent and haunting "That Old Black Magic" and the immensely appealing "Hit the Road to Dreamland." Watching Vera Zorina dance the former and Mary Martin and Dick Powell sing the latter only adds to the entertainment. While the "If Men Played Cards as Women Do" sketch comes across as a bit dated now, it's very well played, and the Bob Hope-William Bendix shower sketch is a genuine riot, as is Hutton wall-climbing routine. Perhaps the most unexpected pleasure is seeing Paulette Goddard, Dorothy Lamour, and Veronica Lake spoofing their sexy trademarks in "A Sweater, a Sarong, and a Peek-a-Boo Bang," followed by the unlikely sight of Arthur Treacher, Walter Catlett, and Sterling Holloway reprising the same. The first half of Star Spangled Rhythm gets a bit dull, but it's worth sitting through it for the remainder.
by Craig Butler review