Swing Parade of 1946 (1946)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Comedy, Musical Romance  |   Release Date - Mar 16, 1946 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 74 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

One never wishes to talk down any picture that has Phil Karlson's name attached to it as director, especially on the basis of its direction, but the scenes with the Three Stooges and the musical numbers are the best parts of Swing Parade, and those are the elements that should almost take care of themselves. Most of the rest of Swing Parade is pretty dull, although those elements that do work make it worth a look (especially to fans of the Three Stooges, Louis Jordon, Connee Boswell et al). After an opulent and overproduced main-title sequence that promises more than any Monogram Pictures release could possibly ever deliver, the movie unspools threadbare and mostly static, until Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five show up in a killer little performance number, and then the Stooges -- Moe, Larry, and Curly -- turn up as comic dishwashers (well, more dish-breakers . . . ). The Louis Jordan and Connee Boswell sequences are great, though Boswell's version of "Stormy Weather", for all of the little personal touches she puts on it, won't make anyone forget Lena Horne's rendition. The other performance clips and production numbers, and especially the song "Oh Brother" at the center of the score -- handled by Gale Storm -- are from hunger. This is no surprise, given that Swing Parade is a Monogram production, and one supposes that we should be glad there was much good to the performance clips, given the emaciated budget of the whole production. The Three Stooges are the movie's main virtue -- they actually bring a little life to the otherwise predictable scenario, and there's less physical mayhem here than in their own shorts; much of the slapstick is committed upon them rather than between them, mostly by Edward Brophy, who is always good for a laugh himself. In fact, the script -- which included actor/writer Tim Ryan as well as future director Nicholas Ray (for "additional dialogue") as co-authors -- is at its most interesting in the Stooges' sequences. In this picture, they get to play the kind of role in the plot that the Marx Brothers did in their movies at MGM, as well-meaning (if inept) agents of good, furthering the romance at the center of the plot between Gale Storm and Phil Regan. Additionally, in many respects, this element of the movie anticipates the kind of portrayals that Moe Howard and Larry Fine would bring to the trio's later features, of the 1960's, most notably in the gloriously opulent Snow White And The Three Stooges; and Curly Howard -- near the end of his career and clearly not in the best of health -- is so relatively restrained here, that he eerily anticipates the work of Joe DeRita, his successor once-removed, in those later movies. He gets to do some funny verbal bits, and Moe also has more fun with the dialogue than was usual in the trio's short films, whle Larry is practically a straight-man for most of their scenes. The movie was also released under the title Swing Parade of 1946.