As Judge Jim Thomas learned, if you're going to have everything, allergies to penicillin hurt.
"You can't have everything…where would you put it?"—Steven Wright
Musicals from the 1930s are a far cry from what we expect today. Instead of carefully integrating songs into plot, you generally have a 45-minute story padded with 45 minutes of generally unrelated musical numbers. While that generally holds true with You Can't Have Everything, brought to us through the Fox Archives, it does just enough to integrate the songs with the story to maintain an entertaining narrative.
Judith Poe Wells (Alice Faye, That Night in Rio) a would-be playwright, goes into an Italian restaurant and orders a large meal; afterwards, she confesses to the owner that she's broke. In the midst of the furor, during which Judith actually sings for her supper, another customer, George Macrae (Don Ameche, Cocoon), is smitten by Judith. George is a successful writer of Broadway comedies, and so he has a fair amount of pull. To get closer to Judith, George arranges to have her play, North Winds, produced. Now George finds himself with trouble on three fronts—first, after discovering that Judith doesn't care for his own work, he told her he was someone else; second, Judith's play turns out to be a melodramatic mess, and he has to rewrite it as a musical comedy. Finally, his attempts to woo Judith are repeatedly thwarted by the presence of his girlfriend Lulu (Gypsy Rose Lee—yes, that Gypsy Rose Lee) keeps turning up at the most inconvenient times. What's up with that, anyway?
By the late 1930s, Alice Faye one of the top ten moneymakers—such a box-office draw, in fact, that 20th Century Fox would put her in movies just to shore up the box office numbers. It's not hard to understand why, either. She has a non-assuming sweetness, along with a warm, rich, alto singing voice. Both are used to strong advantage in the opening scene in the restaurant, so much so that you don't bat an eye when Don Ameche becomes smitten with her while looking at her from across the restaurant. The plot itself is fairly routine backstage comedy stuff, but director Norman Taurog had a talent at maintaining a film's brisk pace—which he used to great advantage later in his career directing Martin and Lewis comedies. For his part, Ameche does well enough, making his caddish behavior appealing.
As did most film musicals of the day, there are more than just a few musical interludes. Because of the nature of the plot, some are more or less worked into the storyline, but just as often they're just shoehorned in for sheer entertainment. Several prominent entertainers are drawing a check here, but one of the bigger names for the time were the Ritz Brothers, a comedic trio popular enough to warrant second billing above Don Ameche. They have several numbers, and while they clearly had talent, they seem to be trying too hard, and the schtick grows old fairly quickly. Famed violinist David Rubinoff is also given a number—he's actually billed as "Rubinoff and his Violin" (which was a Stradivarius).
You Can't Have Everything is a Fox Archive disc, so keep your expectations low. Contrast and saturation levels are generally inconsistent, though there is some occasional flickering. A fair amount of film damage remains though, and is somewhat distracting in darker scenes. The mono audio track is clear but a little reedy; while it's fine when individuals are talking or singing, whenever the orchestra or chorus enters the fray for a big finish the sound becomes a little distorted—almost certainly a function of the original recording. There are no extras or subtitles, but there are chapter stops set at 10-minute intervals.
A pleasant enough musical comedy, though when the dust settles, you'll most likely be remembering individual songs instead of the movie itself.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2014 Jim Thomas; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.