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Panama Hattie
     

Panama Hattie

Director: Norman Z. McLeod

Cast: Red Skelton, Ann Sothern, Rags Ragland

 
Cole Porter's musical hit Panama Hattie originally starred Ethel Merman on Broadway. But Merman was not a proven movie commodity, thus it was Ann Sothern who appeared in the film version as Hattie, brassy but golden-hearted proprietress of a Canal Zone hotel. Accustomed to dealing with such raucous cohorts as she-sick sailors Red (Red Skelton), Rags (Rags

Overview

Cole Porter's musical hit Panama Hattie originally starred Ethel Merman on Broadway. But Merman was not a proven movie commodity, thus it was Ann Sothern who appeared in the film version as Hattie, brassy but golden-hearted proprietress of a Canal Zone hotel. Accustomed to dealing with such raucous cohorts as she-sick sailors Red (Red Skelton), Rags (Rags Ragland) and Rowdy (Ben Blue), Hattie isn't quite certain how to handle herself when she falls in love with wealthy and cultured Dick Bulliett (Dan Dailey Jr.) Socialite Leila Tree (Marsha Hunt), who'd previously set her cap for Dick, does her best to break up the romance, but Hattie is championed by Dick's kid sister Geraldine (Jackie Horner) and family butler Jenkins (Alan Mowbray). The play's original storyline, which shifted into gear when Hattie began picking up Nazi shortwave radio broadcast in the fillings of her teeth, is virtually nonexistent here, as is Porter's score, save for "I've Still Got My Health" and "Let's be Buddies" (Lena Horne does, however, show up to sing "Just One of Those Things," a carryover from an earlier Porter musical). A notoriously troubled production, Panama Hattie was completely refilmed after a disastrous preview, delaying its scheduled release by nearly a year.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The Broadway musical from which Panama Hattie was drawn was noted for its rambunctiously sophisticated Cole Porter score and Ethel Merman's brawny performance of same, not for its negligible book, so it makes sense that the filmmakers made considerable alterations in the script for the cinematic version. What doesn't make sense is dispensing with most of the score and substituting inappropriate and inferior numbers in its place (a common practice at the time). The result is another one of those movies that's not really about anything, but that just ambles along with a not-too-convincing plot, throwing in little conflicts that are never really explored or taken seriously by anyone. Fortunately, Hattie has a capable and engaging star in Ann Sothern. If her voice is less a clarion call than Merman's, it's still a forceful instrument, and she has an easy and attractive way with a song. Sothern also knows how to put across a laugh line and how to play the kind of saccharine sentiment that passes for emotion believably and effectively. She's supported by a trio of male comic talent that may not be to everyone's taste but does what they're asked to do, and by the surprisingly effective deadpan humor of Virginia O'Brien and a couple of sinuous turns by a delectable Lena Horne. If the new songs vary in quality (reaching a nadir with the offensive wartime lyrics to "The Son of a Gun Who Picks on Uncle Sam"), the Porter songs are first-rate.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/12/2012
UPC:
0883316469118
Original Release:
1942
Source:
Warner Archives
Region Code:
0
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:19:00
Sales rank:
39,831

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Red Skelton Red
Ann Sothern Hattie Maloney
Rags Ragland Rags
Ben Blue Howdy
Marsha Hunt Leila Tree
Virginia O'Brien Flo Foster
Alan Mowbray Jay Perkins
Dan Dailey Dick Bulliet
Jackie Horner Geraldine Bulliet
Carl Esmond Lucas Keller
Lena Horne Herself
Stanley Andrews Col. John Briggs
Fred Graham Naval Policeman
Roger Moore Spy
Lucien Prival Hans
Max Wagner Guard
Pierre Watkin Adm. Tree
George Watts Mac the Bartender
Grant Withers Shore Patrol
Duke York Bruno
Joe Yule Waiter
Berry Brothers Themselves
Monte Blue Actor

Technical Credits
Norman Z. McLeod Director
George Bassman Score Composer
Daniel Dare Choreography
Buddy G. DeSylva Original Story
George Folsey Cinematographer
Arthur Freed Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Hugh Hunt Set Decoration/Design
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Wilkie Mahoney Screenwriter
Jack McGowan Screenwriter
Vincente Minnelli Choreography
Cole Porter Songwriter
Blanche Sewell Editor
George Stoll Musical Direction/Supervision
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

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