Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler were married from 1928 through 1940. Despite both being major stars during that period they only appeared together once, in Go Into Your Dance (1935). The film, directed by Archie Mayo, features Jolson as a self-destructive Broadway star who, after being banned from working on Broadway, is forced to team up with a young dancer (Keeler) to get a gig. My memory of the film is that its mix of music and melodrama results in a high watchability factor, and that lots of elements come together to deliver a musical that really should be better remembered. The excellent songs by the always excellent team of Harry Warren and Al Dubin include ‘About A Quarter To Nine’ and ‘She’s A Latin From Manhattan’, the latter of which I’ve posted above. Stick with the clip past the one-minute mark–it begins with Keeler dancing (not very convincingly) a somewhat attenuated Spanish number, which sets up the chorus sung by Jolson. And what a chorus it is! Warren’s snappy melody and Dubin’s beyond clever lyric (see below if you dare) give Jolson a lot to work with. (Dig that crazy side-to-side head bobbing that Jolson does. He’s as infectious as, alas, his wife is dull). Keeler was a bona fide star of the era, one whose charms have (for me anyway) disappeared with the years. Jolson’s style is still filled with 1920s show-biz mannerisms and never really advanced beyond that era but I find his shtick irresistible. Years after the film’s initial release, Jolson career was revitalized after the release of the 1946 film The Jolson Story. Warner Bros. cashed in on the film’s success by reissuing Go into Your Dance the following year, adding new opening titles which gave Jolson a solo over-the-title billing, as well as a written prologue informing audiences that the film took place in 1935. Thus, the film unintentionally became the first 1930s period piece musical, a genre that would peak with Dennis Potter’s Pennies From Heaven thirty-five years later. Just because it’s one of my favorite lyrics (and also because I’m deep in the midst of some work avoidance issues) I’ll print the lyrics of the song out so you can sing along with Al on what will no doubt be your many repeated viewings:

She’s a Latin from Manhattan…I can tell by her ‘Manana’…She’s a Latin from Manhattan…and not Havana…

Though she does the Rhumba for  us…and she calls herself ‘Dolores’…she was in a Broadway chorus known as ‘Susie Donahue’…

She can take a tambourine and wack it–but to her it’s just a racket…she’s a hoofer from 10th Avenue!

She’s a Latin from Manhattan…she’s a 42nd streeter…she’s a Latin from Manhattan, Señorita Donahue!


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