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"On the Avenue" is a good show suffering from a slight attack of miscasting. It contains an unspeakably rich heroine who alternates between haughtiness and condescension, and that part is thrust upon Madelcine Carrol. Miss Carrol is an excellent actress, and having made the transition from English society to Hollywood, she is able to adapt herself to almost anything. Still, there is always the shade of an indication that she is stooping and knows it. She has suffered worse at the hands of other heroes than Dick Powell, and she suffers to perfection. But previously her sufferings have been noble; the petty indignities of this role she does not take so well.
Opera being too artificial for the movies with their show of realism, there has been a bit of a problem over working into the movies the great entertainment value of song. The most satisfactory solution seems to be to present a show in a show, whereby songs can be sung in great profusion. That is the line followed in "On the Avenue", whereby we hear the already popular strains of "Let's Go Slumming", "Last Year's Love", "He Ain't Got Rhythm", "Police Gazette Girl", and "I Got My Love to Keep Me Warm". Most of these are sung by Alice Faye in her warm contralto. Apparently it was not considered safe to let Madelcine Carrol sing unless Dick Powell was there to drown her out.
Mr. Powell does a creditable job in his usual boyish style, and Miss Carrol, as stated, does just about the best that can be expected. Actually, the show is just about stolen by Alice Faye. Her appearance is improving, her voice is richening, she has definitely learned to act, and her second fiddling to Miss Carrol is very much to be heard. Her delineation of the Bowery belle is particularly gratifying. The Ritz brothers also put in their appearance now and then. Stating the general appearance of the audience rather than the particular one of the reviewer, they are pretty funny. But it must be insisted that they seek anything for a laugh; their foolery thus lacks consistency and cumulative force.
The plot in brief makes some spicy jibes at the ultra-rich, shows Dick ridiculing Madelcine and Madeleine ridiculing Dick with an idyllic all night frolic thrown in between, marries the two through the martyrdom of Miss Faye, and winds up with a wedding breakfast in a wheel-less dining car. The thing is rollicking enough, but falls a little short of what the material would seem to permit.
The March of Time takes a look at the liquor business with side glances at the W.C.T.U. and similar crusaders, the recent history of the Turks and Ataturk, and the origin of swing music in the Dixieland Jazz Band.
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