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Music in My Heart

Music in My Heart(1940)

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The folks at Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment deserve a tip of the hat for releasing movies like Music In My Heart (1940) on DVD. This picture is not a classic by any stretch, but it is a fun, charming, and unpretentious little musical which illustrates very well what an ordinary Hollywood entertainment of 1940 was like. It also features Rita Hayworth not long before she hit major stardom and shows off the fine singing voice of future pop sensation Tony Martin.

The plot, if you can call it that, finds actor/singer Martin about to be deported. On the way to his ship, his cab collides with another taxi, providing a cute way for Martin to meet Hayworth, on her way to the same boat to get married. They miss the boat, she takes him in for the night (of course!), and the next thing they know they're falling in love. Comic misunderstandings ensue right up to a climax worthy of the crackpot storylines typical of the era. The silliness, of course, is all just an excuse for some light and charming song-and-dance numbers. The enjoyable score includes "Punchinello," which Martin sings to a monkey, the Oscar®-nominated "It's a Blue World," and the title tune, "Music in My Heart," which makes for a charming ending.

Unsurprisingly, Hayworth commands the screen with her beauty and comic abilities. The actress was at this point just approaching the brink of true stardom. She had just done Only Angels Have Wings (1939), a Howard Hawks masterpiece in which she played the second leading lady under Jean Arthur, and in about a year she would appear in The Strawberry Blonde (1941), which she made on loan to Warner Bros and which was her first real success. That would be quickly followed by Blood and Sand (1941) and You'll Never Get Rich (1941), in which she finally had a chance to show off her dancing skills to superb effect opposite Fred Astaire. In Music In My Heart, Hayworth has just one little dance - a reprise of "Punchinello" - and though it's simple, it's also delightful.

Movie buffs will be surprised to see the name of James Edward Grant credited with original story and screenplay, for Grant is far better known for dozens of westerns and war movies, such as Flying Leathernecks (1951), Hondo (1953), The Alamo (1960), and Donovan's Reef (1963). In fact, he would become John Wayne's favorite writer. Music In My Heart was one of Grant's earliest projects, one on which the former newspaperman cut his teeth.

In the end, it's Martin's voice and Hayworth's overall presence which makes this a nice little winner, though Eric Blore, Alan Mowbray and George Tobias provide solid support as always. The song "Punchinello" is silly, but it's hard to watch it without smiling. Just like the movie itself.

The only drawback to this DVD is that there are zero extras. A commentary or interview with Tony Martin - who is very much still with us - would have been nice, especially given the DVD's list price. At least the transfer is good, and the soundtrack is clean.

For more information about Music in My Heart, visit Sony Pictures. To order Music in My Heart, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeremy Arnold