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Janet Leigh - Star of the Month
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,Two Tickets to Broadway

Two Tickets to Broadway

The famously eccentric millionaire aviator/film-maker Howard Hughes had acquired a controlling interest in RKO in 1948. By 1951, Hughes' obsessive tinkering with the studio had caused so much chaos that film production had slowed down almost to a standstill.

During the same period, Janet Leigh's career had taken off, and she was one of MGM's busiest ingenues. Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) was her final film on a three-picture loanout to RKO. What should have been a simple (if all-star) musical of young showbiz hopefuls trying to get their break on a big-time television show turned into a much-delayed, months-long saga, in large part due to Hughes' over-involved attention to detail, and his efforts to seduce Leigh.

In Two Tickets to Broadway, Leigh plays a small-town girl who heads for New York. On the bus, she meets singer Tony Martin, and three other young hopefuls: Ann Miller, Gloria DeHaven, and Barbara Lawrence, and the trio becomes a quartet, finding lodgings at a theatrical boarding house. Eddie Bracken plays an inept agent, who tries to book them on a television show starring bandleader Bob Crosby, brother of Bing. The plot had been a cliche since the late 1920's "all talking! all singing! all dancing!" era, but it was freshened by the attractive young cast, and by substituting television stardom for Broadway success. The film had a generous dose of musical numbers, with songs by Jule Stein and Leo Robin, Rodgers and Hart, and even grand opera. The cast also featured vaudeville veterans Smith and Dale playing a pair of deli owners. It was one of their rare film appearances, and also their final one. Also playing bit parts in Two Tickets to Broadway were future stars Vera Miles, Mamie Van Doren (as Joan Olander, her real name), and George Nader.

As pre-production for Two Tickets to Broadway got underway, Leigh suggested that the hot young dance team of Marge and Gower Champion be hired to choreograph. She didn't know that the Champions had just been signed to a contract by MGM. However, the tenacious Hughes wangled a loan-out, and the Champions began working to turn non-dancer Leigh into a credible hoofer. Hughes had been trying to date Leigh for months without success. She was not interested, and kept turning him down, but finally gave in and agreed to a date if her parents to come along. Hughes complied, but after that date, she refused any more. Hughes kept pursuing, and kept delaying the start of production. One of Hughes' delaying tactics was how he dealt with sets. The film was being made at the RKO studios, and Hughes' office was at the Goldwyn studios. Instead of driving the few miles between the two studios to see the sets, Hughes insisted that the sets be dismantled at RKO, rebuilt at Goldw! yn so he could see and approve them, then dismantled again and rebuilt at RKO.

Leigh began dating the dance assistant she was working with, and Hughes assigned him to work with Martin instead. (Martin had his own personal experience with Hughes' obsessive pursuit of women ¿ in the late 1940s, Hughes had tried unsuccessfully to date Cyd Charisse, whom Martin was dating at the time, and later married). As the months dragged on, Leigh started dating Tony Curtis, and that romance turned serious, in spite of Hughes' attempts to prevent it. With no start of production in sight for Two Tickets to Broadway, Leigh returned to MGM to appear in It's a Big Country (1952). The Champions also had to return to MGM, to begin work on Show Boat (1951). They were replaced by Busby Berkeley. Finally, Leigh told Hughes she was going to New York, and wouldn't return until production began on Two Tickets to Broadway . Hughes finally relented, and filming began. About the only mishap during production was that Ann Miller fell off a huge pyramid during shooting of one of dance numbers. She suffered a back injury, and had to be hospitalized.

In spite of the delays, Two Tickets to Broadway turned out to be a pleasant diversion, with attractive players and appealing musical numbers. Janet Leigh married Tony Curtis, and the couple was a favorite of the fan magazines and public for the duration of their 11-year marriage. Howard Hughes became stranger and more reclusive, and eventually drove RKO into oblivion. He sold the studio in the mid-1950s.

Director: James V. Kern
Producer: Howard Hughes (uncredited), Jerry Wald, Norman Krasna
Screenplay: Sid Silvers, Hal Kanter, based on a story by Sammy Cahn
Cinematography: Edward Kronjager, Harry D. Wild
Editor: Harry Marker
Costume Design: Michael Woulfe
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Carroll Clark; sets, Darrell Silvera, Harley Miller
Music: Jule Styne & Leo Robin; Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart; Leon Carr, Al Hoffman, & Leo Corday; Ruggero Leoncavallo; Sammy Cahn & Bob Crosby
Principal Cast: Tony Martin (Dan Carter), Janet Leigh (Nancy Peterson), Gloria DeHaven (Hannah Holbrook), Eddie Bracken (Lew Conway), Ann Miller (Joyce Campbell), Barbara Lawrence (S.F. Rogers), Bob Crosby (Himself), Joe Smith (Harry), Charles Dale (Leo). C-107m. Closed Captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri

VIEW TCMDb ENTRY

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