Evergreen (1934)

“Do you mean that you think you can persuade the British public that this girl is the Harriet Green of Edwardian times?”

Evergreen Poster

Synopsis:
The daughter (Jessie Matthews) of deceased Edwardian music hall star Harriet Green (also Matthews) stages a “comeback” as her mother, convincing the public that Harriet Green is alive and well — but how long will her ruse last?

Genres:

Review:
Once hailed as the “female Fred Astaire”, British singer/dancer Jessie Matthews skyrocketed to international fame with this phenomenally popular romantic musical, featuring music by Rodgers and Hart. The rather implausible “mistaken identities” storyline — involving Matthews’ rekindled affair with her dead mother’s aristocratic lover (Ivor McLaren), and her burgeoning love for the man passed off to the public as her grown son (Barry MacKay) — is flimsy but innocuous, and really just an excuse to let Matthews show off her impressive dancing chops and comedic delivery. Sadly, Matthews’ fame never really went anywhere, and few film buffs today will recognize her name. As the most successful British film musical until 1960’s Oliver!, Evergreen is worth a look for historical purposes — but it’s not must-see viewing for all film fanatics.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jessie Matthews as Harriet Green
    Evergreen Matthews
  • Several creatively staged dance sequences
    evergreen-dance1
    Evergreen Dance2

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look simply for Matthews’ dance numbers, and for historical purposes.

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One Response to “Evergreen (1934)”

  1. Not a must.

    It can sometimes be a very odd experience indeed to watch a film, say, in 2010 that was “phenomenally popular” in 1934 – esp. one that offers so little that’s memorable. Even though Matthews may be the best thing in ‘Evergreen’, that says too little for the film overall. Ms. Matthews is largely undone by the film’s tepid material (clunky dialogue included).

    She does have a reasonably pleasant dance solo in the latter part of the film. That does lift things a little when things need lifting badly. But, in general, the dance numbers appear to be performed either by people still taking dance classes or those who don’t seem to enjoy dancing all that much.

    I’m tempted to just say skip this one.

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