What's Cookin'?


1h 9m 1942
What's Cookin'?

Brief Synopsis

J. P. Courtney wants to update the music on the radio program he sponsors, but his wife, Agatha Courtney, is the final authority and addicted to the classics and won't allow him to replace Professor Bistell and his symphonic orchestra. Conspiring with his daughter Sue and her friends, Marvo the Great, the Andrews Sisters, Anne Payne and bandleader Woody Herman, they devise a sabotage plot that gets rid of Professor Bistell, and a new sound is soon heard on the program.

Film Details

Also Known As
Wake Up and Dream, Whats cookin soldier
Release Date
Feb 20, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
6,229ft (7 reels)

Synopsis

A group of young performers attempt to sneak out of Mrs. Murphy's Theatrical Boarding House, as they are unable to pay their back rent. After their landlady stops them, fellow tenant Marvo the Great, a magician, pays all their back rent by selling his clothes. The out-of-work performers then follow Marvo to radio station WECA to see his former assistant, singer Anne Payne, who is performing with the Andrews Sisters and Woody Herman and His Orchestra as part of the Glitter Toothpaste radio show. Marvo later meets with Anne at her Brynhurst estate, and she agrees to let the magician and his friends live with her. Anne's wealthy next-door neighbor, Sue Courtney, wanders over to the singer's home and asks if she can sing with the young performers. Back at the Courtney estate, meanwhile, J. P. and Agatha Courtney, Sue's uncle and aunt and owners of All-American Foods, meet with their advertising counselor, Bob J. Riley. After Agatha insists that their new radio show consist only of classical music, Sue offers to help Bob convert her aunt to "swing" music if he agrees to help out the unemployed performers next door. Upon hearing the neighbors perform, Bob is immediately attracted to Anne and wants to put together a radio show with all of her friends. Unfortunately, Agatha has already decided to engage Professor Bistell to conduct a "classic hour." Knowing her uncle's weakness for magic, Sue agrees to have Marvo teach J. P. the tricks of the trade if he agrees to help stop Agatha's classical show. When Bob fails to keep his appointment with Bistell, the professor signs an exclusive contract with rival advertising agent K. D. Reynolds. Meanwhile, Bob courts Anne, which gives Sue similar ideas about young performer Tommy. In order to circumvent Reynolds' proposed show, Sue auditions for Reynolds as a child opera singer under the alias Priscilla Winterfield. She wins the role, and when Bob offers Agatha his "swing" show, she reluctantly signs with Reynolds. The first new "classical hour" is broadcast from the Courtney estate, and after sabotaging Bistell's first solo, Sue takes the stage with the Andrews Sisters and Woody Herman's orchestra to perform "swing." Agatha is immediately won over, and the entire entourage joins together to sing the grand finale.

Film Details

Also Known As
Wake Up and Dream, Whats cookin soldier
Release Date
Feb 20, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 9m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
6,229ft (7 reels)

Articles

Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)


Peggy Ryan, the bouncing, effervescent dancer and leading lady to Donald O'Connor in a string of youth musicals during World War II, died on October 30 in Las Vegas' Sunrise Hospital from complications of a stroke. She was 80.

Born Margaret O'Rene Ryan on August 28, 1924, in Long Beach, California, Ryan began dancing professionally as a toddler in her parents' vaudeville act, the Dancing Ryans, and was discovered by George Murphy when she was 12. Murphy arranged for young Peggy to dance with him in the Universal musical Top of the Town (1937). She would go on to make a few more film appearances over the next few years - the most striking of which as a starving, homeless girl in John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - yet for the most part, she was hardly noticeable apart from a few dance numbers.

Her luck changed when Universal cast her opposite another teenage hoofer, Donald O'Connor in What's Cookin'? (1942). From then on, they teamed in a series of innocuous musicals that were low on production values, but high on youthful pluck. Just check out some of their titles: Private Buckaroo, Give Out, Sisters!, Get Hep to Love (all 1942); Top Man, Mr. Big (both 1943); Chip Off the Old Block, This Is the Life, and Bowery to Broadway (all 1944). They may have not been high art, but jitterbuggin' kids loved it, and given the low investment Universal put into these pictures, they turned quite the profit.

Her career slowed down after the war. In 1945, she married songwriter James Cross, and didn't return to films until 1949, when she made two minor musicals that year: Shamrock Hill, There's a Girl in My Heart. She divorced Cross in 1952 and met her second husband, dancer Ray McDonald, in her final film appearance, a forgettable musical with Mickey Rooney, All Ashore (1953). Tragically, McDonald died in 1957 after a food choking incident, and the following year, Ryan moved to Honolulu after marrying her third husband, Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman. She kept herself busy teaching dance classes at the University of Hawaii, but in 1969, she found herself back in front of the camera as Jenny Sherman, secretary to Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) on the long-running show Hawaii Five-O,. She played the role for seven years, remaining until 1976.

Eventually, Ryan relocated with her husband to Las Vegas, where for the last few years, she was teaching tap dancing to a whole new generation of hoofers. She is survived by her son, Shawn; daughter Kerry; and five grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)

Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)

Peggy Ryan, the bouncing, effervescent dancer and leading lady to Donald O'Connor in a string of youth musicals during World War II, died on October 30 in Las Vegas' Sunrise Hospital from complications of a stroke. She was 80. Born Margaret O'Rene Ryan on August 28, 1924, in Long Beach, California, Ryan began dancing professionally as a toddler in her parents' vaudeville act, the Dancing Ryans, and was discovered by George Murphy when she was 12. Murphy arranged for young Peggy to dance with him in the Universal musical Top of the Town (1937). She would go on to make a few more film appearances over the next few years - the most striking of which as a starving, homeless girl in John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - yet for the most part, she was hardly noticeable apart from a few dance numbers. Her luck changed when Universal cast her opposite another teenage hoofer, Donald O'Connor in What's Cookin'? (1942). From then on, they teamed in a series of innocuous musicals that were low on production values, but high on youthful pluck. Just check out some of their titles: Private Buckaroo, Give Out, Sisters!, Get Hep to Love (all 1942); Top Man, Mr. Big (both 1943); Chip Off the Old Block, This Is the Life, and Bowery to Broadway (all 1944). They may have not been high art, but jitterbuggin' kids loved it, and given the low investment Universal put into these pictures, they turned quite the profit. Her career slowed down after the war. In 1945, she married songwriter James Cross, and didn't return to films until 1949, when she made two minor musicals that year: Shamrock Hill, There's a Girl in My Heart. She divorced Cross in 1952 and met her second husband, dancer Ray McDonald, in her final film appearance, a forgettable musical with Mickey Rooney, All Ashore (1953). Tragically, McDonald died in 1957 after a food choking incident, and the following year, Ryan moved to Honolulu after marrying her third husband, Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman. She kept herself busy teaching dance classes at the University of Hawaii, but in 1969, she found herself back in front of the camera as Jenny Sherman, secretary to Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) on the long-running show Hawaii Five-O,. She played the role for seven years, remaining until 1976. Eventually, Ryan relocated with her husband to Las Vegas, where for the last few years, she was teaching tap dancing to a whole new generation of hoofers. She is survived by her son, Shawn; daughter Kerry; and five grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Wake Up and Dream and What's Cookin', Soldier? According to Hollywood Reporter and New York Times news items, this was actor Donald O'Connor's first film after a two-year stint on the stage. O'Connor had previously appeared in films at Paramount, and this film marked the beginning of a long and successful relationship between the actor and Universal. This film also marked the feature film debut of noted musician Woody Herman and His Orchestra. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Edward Gargan in the cast, although his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A Hollywood Reporter news item also states that trumpet player Billie Rogers was cast in the film, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Some or all of the performers listed in the cast as "Boys" and "Girls" could be members of "The Jivin' Jacks & Jills."