An audience confronted by innumerable flashing legs, four undistinguished tunes, and one Victor Mature, has every right to bolt for the exits, but "Footlight Serenade" is worth staying around for. Whether for reasons of budget or of taste the lavish spectacle element has been kept down to a merciful minimum, and though unpretentious, the picture is good fun.
The best thing in it is Victor Mature's exuberant portrayal of a heavyweight champion, a character compounded largely to Max Bear and Mature himself, with Saroyanish overtones. He hides buzzers in his palms when shaking hands, wears zoot suits, and is in general a card. Parodying himself with boyish abandon, Mature seems much more at home than in such heavy stuff as "One Million B.C." The main function of his co-star in the proceedings, Betty Grable, is, as always, to exude femininity. She does this unremittingly and well.
Musicals must have a plot on which to hang their tunes and dance numbers. The players go, perforce, through the motions of a lightweight story involving Mature's mink-coated overtures to Betty Grable, the feminine lead of a musical in which he stars. She is married to Mature's sparring partner in the show, but keeps it a secret lest Mature leave the show flat. While the players struggle manfully with the complications this deception causes, several quite bearable dance routines and tunes are introduced. Sparked by Mature as the egocentric fighter, "Footlight Serenade" is altogether a pleasant little show.