Honolulu

Overview

George Burns and Gracie Allen made their last screen appearance together in the 1939 MGM musical Honolulu; indeed, it would be Burns' last film until his 1976 "comeback" in The Sunshine Boys. The nonsensical plotline is carried by Robert Young as famous movie star Brooks Mason, who wants to go to Honolulu for a long rest but can't shake off his throngs of adoring female fans. As luck would have, Mason has an exact double, a Hawaiian plantation owner named George Smith. Mason convinces Smith to switch identities, ...
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Overview

George Burns and Gracie Allen made their last screen appearance together in the 1939 MGM musical Honolulu; indeed, it would be Burns' last film until his 1976 "comeback" in The Sunshine Boys. The nonsensical plotline is carried by Robert Young as famous movie star Brooks Mason, who wants to go to Honolulu for a long rest but can't shake off his throngs of adoring female fans. As luck would have, Mason has an exact double, a Hawaiian plantation owner named George Smith. Mason convinces Smith to switch identities, with the expected comedy-of-error complications as a result. Things get really complicated when Smith, posing as Mason, proposes marriage to lovely Dorothy March (Eleanor Powell), who then can't understand why the real Mason seems to be so fickle. Clearly in support, Burns and Allen are cast respectively as Mason's personal manager Joe Duffy and Dorothy's scatterbrained friend Millie de Grasse. The film contrives to separate George and Gracie for most of the footage, bringing them together in the last reel for a characteristic comedy routine about Gracie's dizzy relatives. Also on hand in a minor role is another comedy giant, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. Highlights include a masquerade-party production number in which Gracie Allen is serenaded by the King's Men Quartet (disguised as the Marx Brothers), and Eleanor Powell's blackface stair-tap tribute to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (Powell also performs a tap-dance hula, which scores on its novelty value alone!)
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Honolulu is hardly a great musical; in fact, overall it would have to qualify as a very middling one. That said, however, there are a number of elements in Honolulu that are far more than middling. Foremost among these is star Eleanor Powell. Most Powell films exist as a showcase for the star's dancing talents, and this one is no exception. Those glorious taps and dizzying swirls and captivating bends and dazzling arms are very much in evidence here, and watching her go through her routines provides the viewer with a great deal of pleasure. The "hula tap" is especially noteworthy, the Bill Robinson tribute is equally good (even if the blackface is hard to watch) and the jump rope dance is quite delightful. But there are too many stretches between these numbers when the by-the-numbers script intrudes, and Powell's strength is in her dancing; her acting is fine, but not something that can add zing and zest to lackluster dialogue and situations. As the romantic interest, Robert Young is quite enjoyable, dealing with the hoary "identical twins" mix-ups with ease. But Young is not a musical performer like Powell, and so there's an imbalance to the film that's damaging. Fortunately, Gracie Allen and George Burns are also on hand to enliven the proceedings, with an especially fine sequence late in the film that shows the duo off in a particularly good light. The score is jaunty and enjoyable, if not one of Harry Warren's greatest. The script and unimaginative direction -- and lack of color, which the film cries out for -- keep Honolulu from soaring, but those Powell specialty spots are well worth catching.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/1/2011
  • UPC: 883316395721
  • Original Release: 1939
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:24:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 38,228

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Eleanor Powell Dorothy March
Robert Young George Smith, Brooks Mason
George Burns George Jonas, Joe Duffy
Gracie Allen Gracie Alden, Millie de Grasse
Rita Johnson Cecelia Grayson
Clarence Kolb Mr. Horace Grayson
Jo Ann Sayers Nurse
Ann Morriss Gale Brewster
Willie Fung Wong
Cliff Clark First Detective
Edward Gargan Second Detective
Sig Rumann Psychiatrist
Ruth Hussey Eve
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson Washington
Edgar Dearing Jailer
Kealoha Holt Native Dancing Girl
Andy Iona
Tom Neal
Technical Credits
Edward N. Buzzell Director
Bobby Connolly Choreography
Jack Cummings Producer
Herbert Fields Screenwriter
Ray June Cinematographer
Sammy Lee Choreography
Conrad A. Nervig Editor
Frank Partos Screenwriter
George Stoll Musical Direction/Supervision
Harry Warren Songwriter
Franz Waxman Score Composer
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