Melody in May (1936) 20min · Musical, Short · 1 May 1936
Another one of the many shorts made in the 1930's by radio-stage-movie-recording star Ruth Etting, whose life story was the subject of 1955's "Love Me or Leave Me" starring Doris Day. This RKO short, along with a great many other RKO shorts, was sold years later to a company, Nu-Art Pictures, that specialized in renting films to the non-theatrical market of the time, and Nu-Art also sold these prints to television stations in the 1950's. The shorts acquired by Nu-Art carried their logo on the title frame in addition to having a line above the title that read: Gordon W. Hedwig Presents. Now, some sources, not knowing what all the changes are about and seeing only the Nu-Art prints, have taken to listing Gordon W. Hedwig as the "executive in charge of the production", or some similar, vastly incorrect title. Gordon W. Hedwig had no hand in the production of this short. His only function was as the head of Nu-Art, who had his own name inserted above the title on the 16mm prints as the "presenter": This short finds Ruth Etting, after finishing a studio recording session, leaving on a vacation. Her chauffeur-driven convertible has motor trouble in the small town of Middletown, which has no hotel. She acquires a room at the local boarding house/drug store ran by widow Ma Bradshaw, whose son Tommy works as the waiter and soda jerk in his Mother's drug store, and has no time for normal teen-age activities. While Tommy may be a soda jerk, the rest of the kids in town are pure jerks, all of whom hang out in the drug store for the sole purpose of making fun of nerdy Tommy, or whatever nerds were called in 1935, the copyright date of this short. Tommy is smitten with high school glamor girl Mary Callahan, who won't give him the time of the day, and Tommy is indeed surprised when Mary suggests that he ask her to the school prom. Unknown to Tommy, Mary's usual squeeze and town's number one insufferable jerk, Chuck, is slated to be out of town. Tommy scrapes his meager pennies together, pops for a corsage and two tickets but, alas, Chuck returns and Mary tells Tommy to take a hike. Ruth, an observer of these events, tells Tommy she will go to the prom with him. The prom kids laugh at Tommy and think Ruth is either his aunt or, to quote Chuck, a cradle robber. Ah, but fate intervenes, as the band playing for the prom is none other than the one that played for Ruth at her recording session. This is more than fortunate, as the chances of the kids at a high school prom held in a small town, accessible only by 20 miles of dirt road, getting a top-flight band to play at their prom are slim to none. But "slim" wins and the band leader has Ruth come up and sing a couple of songs, W. C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" and "It Had To Be You" by Isham Jones and Gus Kahn, and this knocks the attendees right out of their bobby sox, and raises the prestige of Tommy more than somewhat.(As it should have because Ruth Etting was one fine stylized singer.) Fickle Mary now wants Tommy to dance every dance with her, as do all of the other girls and even a couple of the boys, but Tommy says no and dances with the one what brung him, to quote U. of Texas coach Darrell Royal thirty years in the future. Ruth returns to the Big City and leaves Tommy as the new town hero, especially after he clips Chuck in the jaw for trying to kiss Mary after she said no, which, based on the previous actions of Mary, may have been the first time she said no to anybody but Tommy. - Written by Les Adams
Director(s): Ben Holmes Cast: Ruth Etting, Frank Coghlan Jr.
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