“So he wants to desert because of me? I’ll fix that.”
A private (Dick Powell) stationed in Hawaii falls for a general’s engaged daughter (Ruby Keeler), who feigns disinterest in order to keep him out of trouble. When he becomes a cadet at West Point, he is dismayed to see her showing up and agreeing to star in a student-run musical.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cross-Class Romance
- Dick Powell Films
- Frank Borzage Films
- “Let’s Put On a Show!”
- Pat O’Brien Films
- Ruby Keeler Films
While some viewers refer to this escapist romantic musical as “utterly charming”, “spirited”, and “pleasant” (see comments on IMDb), I’m hard-pressed to find much of anything redeeming about it. Directed by Frank Borzage (though it might as well have been directed by Joe Schmoe, for all its distinctiveness), it was clearly meant to capitalize on the popularity of Powell and Keeler, who starred together as a romantic couple in no less than four films during the previous year-plus. Unfortunately, the storyline is not just innocuous (that’s to be expected in a film like this); it’s also inane, predictable, and (at times) insulting in its blatant anti-feminism. Cross-class romance? Fine, even if all Keeler gets to do is stand around and look charming. Glorifying West Point Academy? Well… okay, to a certain point (but a documentary would suit the bill much better). Showing every cadet at West Point going gaga for Keeler as soon as she appears? Now, come on; the girl’s cute, but not that cute. Inserting a “let’s put on a show” plot device to pull Keeler and Powell back together? Lame, lame, lame; this is when I finally tuned out completely.
Believe it or not, this clunker was nominated as one of the best pictures of the year (!!!!).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The Busby Berkeley-inspired Hawaiian dance number, as Powell woos Keeler at a luau
No; definitely feel free to skip this one, unless you’re a diehard Oscar-nominee completist.
One thought on “Flirtation Walk (1934)”
First viewing – not must-see and rather forgettable on most counts, so in agreement with the assessment. That said…as pointed out, the Hawaiian luau number is an unexpected plus. Not enough to merit taking in the whole film, but it shows the level that the rest of the film needed to meet.