Naughty but Nice


1h 30m 1939
Naughty but Nice

Brief Synopsis

A college professor turns songwriter and falls for his lyricist.

Film Details

Also Known As
Always Leave Them Laughing, Professor Steps Out
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Jul 1, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 23 Jun 1939
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Professor Donald Hardwick, a solemn young music teacher, comes to New York to have his symphony published and to visit his wayward aunt Martha, who disgraced the family by falling in love with a saxophone player. At his aunt's house, he meets Linda McKay, a lyric writer, who senses the commercial possibilities in the professor's music. Teaming up with music publisher Ed Clark, Linda converts Donald's compositions to swing, and the duo swing their way up the Hit Parade, scandalizing Donald's classically trained aunts Annabella, Henrietta and Penelope, as well as the college music department and Donald himself. Their success attracts the attentions of Sam Hudson, a rival music publisher who wants the team for his firm. Also interested in their songs is Zelda Manion, a torch singer who wants to exploit the professor's musical talents for her own benefit. Zelda achieves her goal by feeding the professor a potent rum drink, which she identifies as lemonade. Thus ensnared by the power of alcohol, the songsmith earns a reputation as a wild and crazy guy, which brings his three aunts to New York to save him. After Hudson tricks a drunken Donald into signing a contract, Donald's new collaborator, Joe Dirk, exploits the professor's acclaim by plagiarizing a classical piece and signing Donald's name to it. For this act, Donald is brought to trial on charges of music pinching, but he is saved by his aunts, who argue that all composers have borrowed from each other, thus convincing the judge, who writes music himself, to throw the case out of court. Freed from both Hudson and Zelda, Donald returns to Linda, who has stood by him through his notoriety.

Film Details

Also Known As
Always Leave Them Laughing, Professor Steps Out
Genre
Comedy
Musical
Release Date
Jul 1, 1939
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 23 Jun 1939
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Naughty But Nice


One Warner Bros. career ended while another rose in Naughty But Nice (1939), a light-hearted musical that spelled the end of Dick Powell's contract as a boy crooner and the start of Ann Sheridan's rise to the top as the studio?s resident "Oomph" girl. And if the film reflected none of the melancholy of Powell's fall from grace but all of the energy of Sheridan's growing presence, credit Ray Enright, one of Warner's most dependable directors of the '30s.

Powell had come to Warner Bros. from a career as a big band vocalist, making his screen debut appropriately enough as a singer mixed up with gossip columnist Lee Tracy in Warner's Blessed Event (1932). He became a star when he sang love songs to Ruby Keeler in a series of Busby Berkeley musicals including 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade (all 1933). By the late ?30s, however, his star had begun to fall as audiences tired of the studio's backstage musicals. Naughty But Nice was his last film under contract to Warner Bros., and his role as a small-town music composer whose songs are stolen by a group of Tin Pan Alley types showed how resistant Warners was to changing his image. Tired of typecasting, he refused to sign a new contract with the studio, which retaliated by putting his last film there on the shelf. Powell would bounce back in 1945, when he reinvented himself as a tough leading man in the classic film noir Murder, My Sweet.

What prompted Warners to release Naughty But Nice a year later was the growing publicity for the film's second female lead, Ann Sheridan, cast as the sexy songbird who helps steal Powell's songs and tries to take him from his lyricist-girlfriend, Gale Page. Sheridan had been as green as they come when she arrived in Hollywood in 1933, one of six winners of Paramount Pictures' "Search for Beauty" contest. She learned fast and was the only contest winner to last longer than six months at the studio. Working her way through small roles and low-budget films, she picked up enough camera savvy to land a contract with Warner Bros. in 1936. She was gradually moving into better roles there when gossip columnist Walter Winchell labeled a publicity shot of her "umphy." Warner's publicity head Bob Taplinger changed the spelling and staged an "Oomph Dinner" at which a group of journalists and Warners employees officially voted her "The Oomph Girl." Warners took advantage of the publicity by finally releasing Naughty But Nice, with Sheridan promoted to star billing. For her part, Sheridan was grateful for the chance to play better roles, but never quite understood the label. As she told film historian John Kobal (People Will Talk), "it always reminded me of a fat man bending down to tie his shoelaces."

That Naughty But Nice survived its life on the shelf and late release, was due largely to Enright's breezy direction. The one-time editor and gag man for Mack Sennett had helped make hits out of Dames and Twenty Million Sweethearts (both 1934; both starring Powell). Unlike Powell, Enright survived the decline of the Warners musical by moving into action films, eventually signing with Universal, where he directed John Wayne, Randolph Scott and Marlene Dietrich in the 1942 re-make of The Spoilers.
Naughty But Nice is a treat for fans of the studio's contract players, featuring memorable bits by Allen Jenkins, Maxie Rosenbloom and the young Ronald Reagan. Mystery fans will get a special charge out of the casting of Helen Broderick and ZaSu Pitts as Powell's supportive aunts. Each had previously played Stuart Palmer's crime-solving school teacher Hildegarde Withers. Broderick was the first to succeed Miss Wither's original interpreter, Edna Mae Oliver, when she starred in Murder on a Bridle Path (1936), while Pitts finished out the series in Forty Naughty Girls (1937).

Director: Ray Enright
Producer: Samuel Bischoff
Screenplay: Richard Macaulay, Jerry Wald
Based on the Story "Always Leave Them Laughing" by Macaulay and Wald
Cinematography: Arthur Todd
Art Direction: Max Parker
Music: Leo F. Forbstein
Principal Cast: Ann Sheridan (Zelda Manion), Dick Powell (Prof. Hardwick), Gale Page (Linda McKay), Helen Broderick (Aunt Martha), Allen Jenkins (Joe Dirk), ZaSu Pitts (Aunt Penelope), Ronald Reagan (Ed Clark).
BW-90m.

By Frank Miller
Naughty But Nice

Naughty But Nice

One Warner Bros. career ended while another rose in Naughty But Nice (1939), a light-hearted musical that spelled the end of Dick Powell's contract as a boy crooner and the start of Ann Sheridan's rise to the top as the studio?s resident "Oomph" girl. And if the film reflected none of the melancholy of Powell's fall from grace but all of the energy of Sheridan's growing presence, credit Ray Enright, one of Warner's most dependable directors of the '30s. Powell had come to Warner Bros. from a career as a big band vocalist, making his screen debut appropriately enough as a singer mixed up with gossip columnist Lee Tracy in Warner's Blessed Event (1932). He became a star when he sang love songs to Ruby Keeler in a series of Busby Berkeley musicals including 42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade (all 1933). By the late ?30s, however, his star had begun to fall as audiences tired of the studio's backstage musicals. Naughty But Nice was his last film under contract to Warner Bros., and his role as a small-town music composer whose songs are stolen by a group of Tin Pan Alley types showed how resistant Warners was to changing his image. Tired of typecasting, he refused to sign a new contract with the studio, which retaliated by putting his last film there on the shelf. Powell would bounce back in 1945, when he reinvented himself as a tough leading man in the classic film noir Murder, My Sweet. What prompted Warners to release Naughty But Nice a year later was the growing publicity for the film's second female lead, Ann Sheridan, cast as the sexy songbird who helps steal Powell's songs and tries to take him from his lyricist-girlfriend, Gale Page. Sheridan had been as green as they come when she arrived in Hollywood in 1933, one of six winners of Paramount Pictures' "Search for Beauty" contest. She learned fast and was the only contest winner to last longer than six months at the studio. Working her way through small roles and low-budget films, she picked up enough camera savvy to land a contract with Warner Bros. in 1936. She was gradually moving into better roles there when gossip columnist Walter Winchell labeled a publicity shot of her "umphy." Warner's publicity head Bob Taplinger changed the spelling and staged an "Oomph Dinner" at which a group of journalists and Warners employees officially voted her "The Oomph Girl." Warners took advantage of the publicity by finally releasing Naughty But Nice, with Sheridan promoted to star billing. For her part, Sheridan was grateful for the chance to play better roles, but never quite understood the label. As she told film historian John Kobal (People Will Talk), "it always reminded me of a fat man bending down to tie his shoelaces." That Naughty But Nice survived its life on the shelf and late release, was due largely to Enright's breezy direction. The one-time editor and gag man for Mack Sennett had helped make hits out of Dames and Twenty Million Sweethearts (both 1934; both starring Powell). Unlike Powell, Enright survived the decline of the Warners musical by moving into action films, eventually signing with Universal, where he directed John Wayne, Randolph Scott and Marlene Dietrich in the 1942 re-make of The Spoilers.

Naughty but Nice -


It was the end of one era and the start of another when Dick Powell made the last film under his original Warner Bros. contract, only to have top billing go to rising star Ann Sheridan, the "Oomph Girl." Although Powell had starred in some of the studio's biggest musical hits of the '30s, including 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 (both 1933), the big backstage musical was out of fashion as his studio contract wound down. When he declined to sign a new contract unless the studio gave him more diverse roles, they burned off his original obligation with this tale of a college music professor appalled when his serious compositions are turned into swing hits. Warner's disliked the film so much, they shelved it. But then they started giving second female lead Sheridan, as a singer trying to vamp Powell away from lyricist sweetheart Gail Page, the star push, pitching her as the sexiest thing on screen since the last sexiest thing on screen. So they released the film with Sheridan, clearly a supporting player, top billed. Fortunately, the film moved quickly, thanks to director Ray Enright, and some featured strong character turns by Helen Broderick, ZaSu Pitts, Allen Jenkins and Jerry Colonna.

Naughty but Nice -

It was the end of one era and the start of another when Dick Powell made the last film under his original Warner Bros. contract, only to have top billing go to rising star Ann Sheridan, the "Oomph Girl." Although Powell had starred in some of the studio's biggest musical hits of the '30s, including 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 (both 1933), the big backstage musical was out of fashion as his studio contract wound down. When he declined to sign a new contract unless the studio gave him more diverse roles, they burned off his original obligation with this tale of a college music professor appalled when his serious compositions are turned into swing hits. Warner's disliked the film so much, they shelved it. But then they started giving second female lead Sheridan, as a singer trying to vamp Powell away from lyricist sweetheart Gail Page, the star push, pitching her as the sexiest thing on screen since the last sexiest thing on screen. So they released the film with Sheridan, clearly a supporting player, top billed. Fortunately, the film moved quickly, thanks to director Ray Enright, and some featured strong character turns by Helen Broderick, ZaSu Pitts, Allen Jenkins and Jerry Colonna.

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 - TCM Remembers Ronald Reagan


Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Ronald Reagan, the actor turned elected official whose fascinating career saw him develop as a contract player for Warner Brothers studios, to a politician who fulfilled his ambitions by becoming the 40th President of the United States, died at his home in Los Angeles on June 5 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93.

He was born Ronald Wilson Reagan on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois to John and Nelle Reagan. When Reagan was nine, his family settled down in the small community of Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago. After high school, Reagan enrolled in Eureka College, a small Christian school near Peoria. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in Economics, and pursued a career in broadcasting. His first gig was as a part-time announcer at WOC in Davenport, Iowa. Within a year, WOC had merged with its big-sister station, WHO in Des Moines, and Reagan was hired as a sports announcer.

In the spring of 1937, Reagan drove to Southern California to catch the Chicago Cubs in spring training on Santa Catalina Island. While he was in California, he wrangled a screen test and signed a contract for $200 a week with Warner Brothers. His film debut was rather inauspicious; he portrayed a radio announcer in an innocuous comedy Love is on the Air (1937). He made a few more "B" programmers like Hollywood Hotel (also 1937), and Girls on Probation (1938), before getting his first prominent role opposite Bette Davis in the popular tearjerker, Dark Victory (1939).

Although he seldom got credit for being a good actor, there was no denying that Reagan held his own given the right material: Knute Rockne, All American as the doomed Notre Dame football hero George "The Gipper" Gipp, where he delivered the film's immortal line "Win one for the Gipper!"; Santa Fe Trail in which he ably supports Errol Flynn in one of the boxoffice hits of its era (both 1940); Kings Row (1941), featuring one of his finest performances as a small-town playboy whose legs are amputated by a careless surgeon; and Desperate Journey (1942) where he again supported Flynn in an exciting action picture.

Due to his poor eyesight, Reagan didn't see any action in World War II, so the studio heads assigned him to star in a series of patriotic films produced by the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Forces in Culver City. Between 1942-45, Reagan starred in over 400 of these films. After the war, Reagan still found some good roles: The Voice of the Turtle (1947) proved he had a deft hand at light comedy opposite Eleanor Parker; The Hasty Heart (1949) offered another underrated performance as he ably portrayed the Yank in John Patrick's much heralded wartime play; and Storm Warning (1950) was a slick melodrama that cast Reagan as a crusading District Attorney determined to bring the KKK in a small southern town, with the help of Doris Day and Ginger Rogers!

It was around this time that Reagan became involved in politics. In 1947, he began a five-year term as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and testified in October of that year before the newly formed House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He identified suspected Communists Larry Parks, Howard Da Silva and Alexander Knox, all of whom were subsequently called to testify, and subsequently blacklisted. Later records showed Reagan was so concerned about the Communist influence in Hollywood, that he became an FBI informer.

As Reagan became steeped in his political career, his parts throughout the '50s became inferior: the notorious Bedtime for Bonzo (1951); the coy "sex" comedy She's Working Her Way Through College (1952) that cast him as a college professor who romances a stripper! (Virginia Mayo); Cattle Queen of Montana (1955), a sluggish Western that even the redoubtable Barbara Stanwyck couldn't save; and finally Hellcats of the Navy (1957), a stodgy war picture that would be his only film that co-starred his wife Nancy (Davis).

Television offered some salvation. For eight years, (1954-62), Reagan served as the host of General Electric Theater, a televised series of dramas. He also found a niche as GE's goodwill ambassador to employees and to civic and business groups around the country, furthering his taste and honing his craft as a public official. By the mid '60s, Reagan would move into politics entirely, save for one last film, the thrilling The Killers (1964), Reagan's only known villainous role, as a murderous gangster. That same year, he actively campaigned for Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, although Goldwater lost to Lyndon B. Johnson.

Reagan whose profile was riding high, had cemented his future as a successful politician. In 1966, he ran against incumbent Governor Pat Brown for the state of California and won, serving successfully for two terms until 1974.

Reagan began an all-out, two-year drive to wrest the 1976 nomination from incumbent Gerald R. Ford, an appointed vice president who became president on the resignation of Nixon. Reagan fell short by a handful of delegates to the Republican national convention. But Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, and Reagan became the front-runner to challenge Carter in 1980. After defeating Carter, Reagan held two terms as President of the United States (1981-89). After his second term was over, he retired quietly in California. In 1994, it was revealed to the media that Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease; he had been kept out of the public eye since then.

He was married briefly to actress Jane Wyman (1940-48), and had two children; a daughter Maureen and an adopted son, Michael. In 1952, he married a budding film starlet, Nancy Davis, who bore him two more children; a daughter, Patty; and a son, Ronald Jr. Ronald Reagan is survived by Nancy, Michael, Patty and Ron Jr. His daughter Maureen died of Melanoma in 2001 at the age of 60.

by Michael T. Toole

Ronald Reagan, 1911-2004 - TCM Remembers Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) Ronald Reagan, the actor turned elected official whose fascinating career saw him develop as a contract player for Warner Brothers studios, to a politician who fulfilled his ambitions by becoming the 40th President of the United States, died at his home in Los Angeles on June 5 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93. He was born Ronald Wilson Reagan on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois to John and Nelle Reagan. When Reagan was nine, his family settled down in the small community of Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago. After high school, Reagan enrolled in Eureka College, a small Christian school near Peoria. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in Economics, and pursued a career in broadcasting. His first gig was as a part-time announcer at WOC in Davenport, Iowa. Within a year, WOC had merged with its big-sister station, WHO in Des Moines, and Reagan was hired as a sports announcer. In the spring of 1937, Reagan drove to Southern California to catch the Chicago Cubs in spring training on Santa Catalina Island. While he was in California, he wrangled a screen test and signed a contract for $200 a week with Warner Brothers. His film debut was rather inauspicious; he portrayed a radio announcer in an innocuous comedy Love is on the Air (1937). He made a few more "B" programmers like Hollywood Hotel (also 1937), and Girls on Probation (1938), before getting his first prominent role opposite Bette Davis in the popular tearjerker, Dark Victory (1939). Although he seldom got credit for being a good actor, there was no denying that Reagan held his own given the right material: Knute Rockne, All American as the doomed Notre Dame football hero George "The Gipper" Gipp, where he delivered the film's immortal line "Win one for the Gipper!"; Santa Fe Trail in which he ably supports Errol Flynn in one of the boxoffice hits of its era (both 1940); Kings Row (1941), featuring one of his finest performances as a small-town playboy whose legs are amputated by a careless surgeon; and Desperate Journey (1942) where he again supported Flynn in an exciting action picture. Due to his poor eyesight, Reagan didn't see any action in World War II, so the studio heads assigned him to star in a series of patriotic films produced by the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Forces in Culver City. Between 1942-45, Reagan starred in over 400 of these films. After the war, Reagan still found some good roles: The Voice of the Turtle (1947) proved he had a deft hand at light comedy opposite Eleanor Parker; The Hasty Heart (1949) offered another underrated performance as he ably portrayed the Yank in John Patrick's much heralded wartime play; and Storm Warning (1950) was a slick melodrama that cast Reagan as a crusading District Attorney determined to bring the KKK in a small southern town, with the help of Doris Day and Ginger Rogers! It was around this time that Reagan became involved in politics. In 1947, he began a five-year term as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and testified in October of that year before the newly formed House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He identified suspected Communists Larry Parks, Howard Da Silva and Alexander Knox, all of whom were subsequently called to testify, and subsequently blacklisted. Later records showed Reagan was so concerned about the Communist influence in Hollywood, that he became an FBI informer. As Reagan became steeped in his political career, his parts throughout the '50s became inferior: the notorious Bedtime for Bonzo (1951); the coy "sex" comedy She's Working Her Way Through College (1952) that cast him as a college professor who romances a stripper! (Virginia Mayo); Cattle Queen of Montana (1955), a sluggish Western that even the redoubtable Barbara Stanwyck couldn't save; and finally Hellcats of the Navy (1957), a stodgy war picture that would be his only film that co-starred his wife Nancy (Davis). Television offered some salvation. For eight years, (1954-62), Reagan served as the host of General Electric Theater, a televised series of dramas. He also found a niche as GE's goodwill ambassador to employees and to civic and business groups around the country, furthering his taste and honing his craft as a public official. By the mid '60s, Reagan would move into politics entirely, save for one last film, the thrilling The Killers (1964), Reagan's only known villainous role, as a murderous gangster. That same year, he actively campaigned for Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, although Goldwater lost to Lyndon B. Johnson. Reagan whose profile was riding high, had cemented his future as a successful politician. In 1966, he ran against incumbent Governor Pat Brown for the state of California and won, serving successfully for two terms until 1974. Reagan began an all-out, two-year drive to wrest the 1976 nomination from incumbent Gerald R. Ford, an appointed vice president who became president on the resignation of Nixon. Reagan fell short by a handful of delegates to the Republican national convention. But Ford lost to Jimmy Carter, and Reagan became the front-runner to challenge Carter in 1980. After defeating Carter, Reagan held two terms as President of the United States (1981-89). After his second term was over, he retired quietly in California. In 1994, it was revealed to the media that Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease; he had been kept out of the public eye since then. He was married briefly to actress Jane Wyman (1940-48), and had two children; a daughter Maureen and an adopted son, Michael. In 1952, he married a budding film starlet, Nancy Davis, who bore him two more children; a daughter, Patty; and a son, Ronald Jr. Ronald Reagan is survived by Nancy, Michael, Patty and Ron Jr. His daughter Maureen died of Melanoma in 2001 at the age of 60. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this picture were Professor Steps Out and Always Leave Them Laughing. According to the Variety review, it was the last picture that Dick Powell made under his Warner Bros. contract.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer July 1, 1939

Released in United States Summer July 1, 1939