“Alice Faye's film history celebrated in new DVD collection”
Alice Faye, the exceptionally rich-voiced singer and accessibly natural actress was the queen of Fox musicals throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Four of her best films were issued last year in a DVD set that must have sold well, for now we have "The Alice Faye Collection Volume 2" (1939-44), which like the first, features excellent prints and sensible extras.
Though by the 1940s, her star was beginning to be somewhat eclipsed by Betty Grable, the World War II soldiers' favorite "pinup gal" -- and, incidentally, a pal, not rival, of Faye. The latter seems to have decided she'd rather devote herself to being Mrs. Phil Harris at the start of their decades-long marriage, and raising her daughters (both of whom are seen on the supplemental material here), and more or less retired to raise them -- apart from doing some radio, and much later, making a return to film in 1962's "State Fair."
The five films in this set are good ones, though the inclusion of "Four Jills in a Jeep" is rather peculiar, as Faye makes only a cameo appearance, and there are several Faye rarities from the 1930s still to be issued on DVD.
Interestingly, several of the films include an isolated score track (minus the dialogue and sound effects), and various trailers and stills.
Spanish title options for all.
Except for "Hollywood Cavalcade," the USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification for all is A-II -- adults and adolescents. None have been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
All make enjoyable family entertainment from a simpler age. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Four Jills in a Jeep (1944)
Kay Francis, Carole Landis, Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair play themselves in an adaptation of Landis' novel about the adventures of the first female performers to join the USO, as they entertain troops in England and North Africa. Faye's appearance is one of many cameos. The DVD includes some deleted scenes.
The Great American Broadcast (1941)
Faye is a 1920s speak-easy singer who joins forces with John Payne and Jack Oakie to bring the new technology of radio to the masses. Directed by Archie Mayo. The DVD's featurette is "Radio Waves: The Real History of The Great American Broadcast."
Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
Faye plays a Barbary Coast entertainer who performs with leading man Payne, along with Oakie and June Havoc. Payne falls for a selfish heiress, and Faye becomes a European star, but comes back to save the day when Payne's wife leaves him, and he faces financial ruin. Directed by Bruce Humberstone. The DVD includes a nice featurette about Faye's return to movies with this film after a hiatus. The original review chided the script for reflecting the "acceptability of divorce."
Hollywood Cavalcade (1939)
This homage to the silent film era has Faye as a New York stage actress circa 1913 who is persuaded by a young director (Don Ameche) to lend her talents to the fledgling movie business. Directed by Irving Cummings. The DVD includes outtakes and featurettes on silent-film icons Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-I -- general patronage.
Rose of Washington Square (1939)
In a romantic melodrama loosely paralleling events in singer Fanny Brice's life, a promising vocalist (Alice Faye) marries a suave crook (Tyrone Power), becomes a Broadway star thanks to a former partner (Al Jolson), then sticks by her weak-willed husband when he's sent to prison. Directed by Gregory Ratoff, the Prohibition-era sudser is saved by Faye's cheerful singing, Jolson's enthusiastic performance and Power's handsome insincerity. Romantic complications. The DVD includes deleted scenes and a good featurette on Brice and Ratoff.