Good News

“The Broadway and Hollywoodian views of American college life have always remained on the far side of lyric paradise: throughout the first four decades of this century, the behaviour of undergraduates-on-film has been backgrounded by songs and dances in ice-cream parlours, football stadiums and sorority houses. When ‘Good News' became a smash Broadway hit back in 1927, it was inevitable that screen versions would follow. MGM's 1930 version is, alas, lost to us, but in 1947, producer Arthur Freed decided to give choreographer-dancer Charles Walters a chance at direction, and Good News was revived. The spirit of the twenties prevails but the ‘look' and manner of the principal players are decidedly 'forties. No one is really young enough to be convincing undergraduates, so Walters depended upon the box-office charm of June Allyson to carry the plot, and the tuneful score to lull spectators into amused complacency. Fortunately, almost everything works, despite Peter Lawford's dubious casting as an all-American quarterback. Allyson's husky-voiced breathings of that ancient hymn, ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free'; a superb ice-cream parlour dance by Ray McDonald and Joan McCracken to ‘Pass That Peace Pipe'; and brisk vocal arrangements by Kay Thompson give the film a special verve, and Comden and Green's satirical song, ‘The French Lesson,' is a tongue-in-cheek classic. Today, it is the postwar optimism and temporary innocence of Good News that strikes us, and, in these contemporary times when collegiate joie-de-vivre is correlated to bookishness, Good News becomes a very desirable piece of nostalgia. Other rediscoveries are the presences of Patricia Marshall, a budding musical star from Broadway who glowed only in this film, and the impressive, young, Mel Torme, crooning ‘Lucky In Love' in his immortal velvet-fog tones.”

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