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Rose of Washington Square (1939)

 -  Drama | Musical  -  5 May 1939 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 298 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 4 critic

New York city in the 1920s: a singer struggles to keep her boyfriend from trouble. When she makes it to Ziegfeld, he heads for five years in jail. Lots of Faye and Jolson singing. The story... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (based on a story by), 1 more credit »
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Title: Rose of Washington Square (1939)

Rose of Washington Square (1939) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Rose Sargent
...
Ted Cotter
...
Harry Long
Joyce Compton ...
Peggy
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Whitey Boone
Moroni Olsen ...
Mayor Buck Russell
E.E. Clive ...
Barouche Driver
...
Band Leader
Charles C. Wilson ...
Police Lt. Mike Cavanaugh
Hal K. Dawson ...
Chump
Paul E. Burns ...
Chump (as Paul Burns)
Ben Welden ...
Toby
Horace McMahon ...
Irving (as Horace MacMahon)
Paul Stanton ...
District Attorney
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Storyline

New York city in the 1920s: a singer struggles to keep her boyfriend from trouble. When she makes it to Ziegfeld, he heads for five years in jail. Lots of Faye and Jolson singing. The story is so close to the true story of Fanny Brice and Nicky Arnstein (Jules W. Arndt Stein) that he sued the studio in a case that was quickly settled out of court in his favor. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Musical

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rose of Washington Square  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film closely resembles the life of entertainer Fanny Brice, and Alice Faye even sings Ms. Brice's signature song "My Man". According to Biography: Alice Faye: The Star Next Door (1996), Fanny Brice sued 20th Century Fox for $750,000. 20th Century Fox benefited from the publicity, and this film was its biggest musical hit of 1939. The studio settled out of court with Fanny Brice for an undisclosed amount. See more »


Soundtracks

The Vamp
(uncredited)
Written by Byron Gay
Sung by Alice Faye, along with Tyrone Power (at the piano) and Guests at the Spring Lake Inn
See more »

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User Reviews

 
You might swear that you've seen this before...
21 July 2009 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

WARNING: This is a politically incorrect film. Deal with it and understand the context or just skip it altogether--I could certainly understand why you might skip it. Just know ahead of time that through much of the film, one of the stars performs in black-face (yikes!!). However, it IS a part of our history and is a pretty good film, so I would hate to see everyone just disregard it completely.

The film begins with Alice Faye working with partner Al Jolson. They are both struggling singers and have hopes of making it big on Broadway. The path for Jolson is pretty smooth, and he's soon discovered and becomes the toast of the town. As for Faye, in the meantime, she falls for a no-good pretty boy (Tyrone Power) and her route to the top is a bit slower and filled with pitfalls.

Both Faye and Jolson sing a huge number of songs. Jolson's act may surprise and offend a lot in the audience, after all his shtick was singing in black-face! But despite his politically incorrect act, he was in top form here--singing many of his all-time great songs that are still pretty enjoyable today. As for Faye, with her rather husky voice, she is a bit of a surprise, as today it's a bit harder to see her appeal. I mean that while she isn't bad at all, she also isn't all that great when she sings--though she was a huge box office star in her day.

You might swear that you've seen this before...especially if you've seen FUNNY GIRL. While many of the details have been changed, the plot of ROSE OF WASHINGTON SQUARE is essentially the story of Fanny Brice and her scum-bag lover, Nicky Arnstein. However, Twentieth-Century Fox decided to do this without the permission or royalties to Ms. Brice--resulting in a lawsuit and subsequent settlement. The most egregious bit of "literary license" is having Faye sing a close variation of Brice's hit song "My Man". While much of this information is on IMDb about the background for the film, I could clearly see the similarities....and differences. While Alice Faye looks and acts nothing like Fanny Brice, Tyrone Power is much closer to Arnstein--though, like in FUNNY GIRL, he's a bit sanitized. In ROSE OF WASHINGTON SQUARE, he's more of a man who unsuccessfully juggles and connives--not an outright crook like the real Arnstein, but more like a lovable schemer who essentially means well. As for the rest of the film, it's a Vaudeville extravaganza--leading to Alice Faye and Al Jolson going to work for Mr. Ziegfeld. Brice, as you may know, was a huge star with Ziegfeld despite (or perhaps because of) her very ethnic singing and "unconventional looks" (a nice way of saying ugly). She sure didn't look or sing like Faye, but otherwise there sure are a lot of similarities--except that in the end, Faye waited for her lover to return from prison, whereas after already serving a stretch in Sing Sing and bound for Leavenworth, Ms. Brice thankfully divorced Arnstein.

Very watchable and enjoyable but also a rather sleazy exploitation of Ms. Brice AND a disturbing case of minstrel-itis!


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