Starring: Frankie Darro, Mantan Moreland, Marjorie Reynolds, Tristram Coffin, Lorna Gray, and Dick Elliot
Director: Howard Bretherton
Rating: Six of Ten Stars
When the obnoxious singer (Gray) headlining a radio station's anchor program is murdered, Frankie (Darro) gets his friend Jeff (Moreland) to help him find the killer. Along the way, he tries to fulfill his dreams of stardom while also helping a beautiful young singer (Reynolds) to become the program's new headliner.
|Jeff (Moreland) and Frankie (Darro) prove themselves not ready for prime-time.|
"Up in the Air" is a film where the cast is doing there very best with weak material. Darro and Moreland are great together--as they are in every teaming I've seen so far--and the other performers are also at the top of their game. If only more effort at been put into the script, as well as the set-piece musical performances by Lorna Gray and Marjorie Reynolds, this could have ranked among Monogram's best efforts. It's always a shame to see actors giving it their best but being undermined by weak material.
I think the film is still worth seeing if you are a fan of either Frankie Darro or Mantan Moreland, and a must-see if you like them when work together. One part of the film that I'm curious about is the "minstrel show" sequence where Frankie and Jeff are trying out for a spot on the radio show. Their routine is intentionally embarrassing--and even more so when viewed through 21st century eyes. Given that black-face was already falling out of favor by 1940, I wonder if that medium wasn't chosen to make Frankie and Jeff's comedy routine seem even more hackneyed and bad.