Billy Rose's Casa Mañana Revue
Release Date
26 April 1938

Billy Rose's Casa Mañana Revue (1938)

PASSED · 21min · Musical, Short
The scene is set at Billy Rose's Casa Manana Revue, filmed at the Fort Worth Frontier Fiesta (1937), an enormous production created as part of the Texas Centennial civic celebrations. The opening song, "The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful" emanated from the first edition of the Revue and became a hit song on two continents in 1936. The show had its last performance and the cast doesn't have much hope for their careers in Hollywood or New York. A chorus member suggests that Rose (played by himself) produce a show of his greatest numbers. Without missing a beat, Rose tells the cast to report for rehearsal the next morning. The constantly bickering dance team of Mason & Dixon (Virginia Grey and Lee Dixon) does not look forward to working together so soon. Grey explodes when she learns that Dixon has a new, younger partner. She later learns that the new partner is the adorable Peggy Ryan, a mere fourteen-year-old hoofer. They become a brilliant trio in the show. Fiction aside, the short serves to preserve the colossal aspects of the John Murray Anderson-directed show, with the enormous chorus and some of its original stars, such as the Stuart Morgan Dancers and Harriet Hoctor. At the time the largest theatre-café in the world (they seated 4,200), the revolving stage was 130 feet in diameter and took one minute and forty-five seconds to turn one revolution. Between the 4,264,000 pound revolving stage and the audience was a lagoon that measured 131 feet wide by 175 feet long. The costumes were created by Raoul Pene Du Bois, the sets by Albert Johnson, lighting by Carlton Winkler, and dances directed by Robert Alton. Nearly all the principal technicians, including composer Dana Suesse, would become Rose's staff for his Casa Manana nightclub, which he opened in Manhattan's Paramount Hotel a few years later. In this short, authentic footage was taken in Fort Worth, recording rehearsal and performance of the show's largest production number, "Oriental Yogi" and the show's finale, "It Can't Happen Here" (both by composer Dana Suesse with lyrics by Billy Rose and Stanley Joseloff). In the thrilling finale, sixteen elevators suddenly rose out of the floor, bearing ten drummers and six trumpeters. In the center of the stage, "Miss Liberty," wearing the largest gown ever created, marches up a flight of chromium stairs. In the original program she is listed as Mary Dowell. Once at the top, an elevator propels her to an even higher pinnacle. Carried by twenty-eight men, the gown's train consisted of 1,200 yards of spangled satin. The film short cleverly inter-cuts close-up footage of its contract players with long shots of the original Texas production. While the enormous cast performs its finale, "It Can't Happen Here," the MGM Orchestra is cleverly over-dubbed, playing an instrumental version of "Swingin' The Jinx Away" (Cole Porter) from the 1936 Eleanor Powell feature, "Born To Dance." Missing from the film are original Fort Worth cast members Everett Marshall and The California Varsity Eight. - Written by pmintun@mac.com
5.8/10
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