FRANK SINATRA FILMOGRAPHY (1944): “STEP LIVELY”

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STEP LIVELY

By Mahnuel Muñoz

On June 24, 1944, “Step Lively“, Frank Sinatra’s fifth film, hits theaters.

Frank plays a young aspiring playwright who will find himself involved in many entanglements to stage the musical that he has proposed to an astute producer loaded with financial debts, and all of it well watered with songs and romanticism.

The film was directed by Tim Whelan (“The Thief Of Bagdad“, 1940) and the cast includes George Murphy, Adolphe Menjou and Gloria De Haven.

The songs on the soundtrack are by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne.

The press of the time covered the premiere, due to the growing social and cultural interest that the young Sinatra aroused. Below I reproduce one of the most curious reviews that could be seen in those days.

With the vigorous “Sinatra Society of Screaming and Fainting” at the Palace Theatre, where “Step Lively” exhibits its idol in unbeatable cinematographic conditions, it is not always possible to pay due attention to the film.

Every time Mr. Sinatra does something, even if it is something very unattractive, his followers immediately let out a scream so heartbreaking that it is impossible to pass a calm judgment. This is usually followed by resounding and opposing noises from sailors and other over-masculinity admirers, and the result is a dose of indescribable uproar.

Fortunately, “Step Lively,” the film version of the feverish Broadway hit “Room Service,” is not itself a flower spoiled by crude treatment. Much of the footage is a cheerful farce that could only be seen in a boiler factory… Sinatra, assigned to the modest role of a young playwright whose money and play has been stolen without compensation, is better off than his previous movie. He looks better, acts better and sings with the style that has made him famous. If it were not for the unbridled demonstrations of his fanatical admirers, there would be little to reproach him… Apparently, “the Voice” is here to stay, and if things continue, the experience will not be as difficult as it is promising, making it possible for the incidental screams can be silenced.”

(Archer Winsten, “New York Post”)

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