Thanks a Million


Thanks a Million

Written by by Nunnally Johnson

Cinematography: J. Peverall Marley

Art Direction: Jack Otterson

Music: Arthur Lange

Songs by Gus Kahn & Arthur Johnston

Editing: Allen McNeil

Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck

Directed by Roy Del Ruth

Theatrical Release: 1935



Dick Powell

Ann Dvorak

Fred Allen

Patsy Kelly

Paul Whiteman

Raymond Walburn




Production Studio:

Theatrical: 20th Century Pictures

Video: Fox Cinema Archive



Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 480i

Codec: MPEG-2

Disc Type: DVD-VOD

Bit Rate: Low~Moderate (ca. 4-5 Mbps)

Runtime: 87 minutes

Region: 1



English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono


Subtitles: None


Bonus Features: None



DVD Clamshell Case: VOD

Street Date: April 16, 2013


Plot [Wikipedia]:

Stranded in a small town in a downpour, the manager of a traveling musical show (Fred Allen) convinces the handlers of a boring long-winded local judge running for governor (Raymond Walburn) to hire his group to attract people to the politician's rallies. When the show's crooner, Eric Land (Dick Powell), upstages the Judge, he's fired, but on a return visit he saves the day by standing in for the Judge, who is too drunk to speak. Impressed by his poise, the party's bosses ask Eric to take over as candidate, and the singer, knowing he has no chance to win, agrees for the exposure and the radio airtime in which he can showcase his singing. Soon, though, his girlfriend Sally (Ann Dvorak) becomes annoyed at the amount of time Eric is spending with the wife of one of the bosses, and she leaves when she thinks he has lied to her.


Critical Press:

TV Guide

A fast-paced musical satire on politics stars Powell as the lead in a group of traveling singers and introduces the now-classic song "Happy Days Are Here Again." Allen, as Powell's wiley manager, makes a successful transition here from radio to movies but, sadly, never fully exploited it later on. The story has Allen pushing Powell into becoming a candidate for the governor of Pennsylvania when the party hopeful turns out to be a hopeless drunk. Though Powell has absolutely no interest or experience in politics, the party loves him because he has a dynamic personality and is good with crowds. Unfortunately all this politicking ruins his relationship with Dvorak, and eventually Powell is fed up with the charade. When he learns that powerful members of the party are nothing more than crooks, he blows the whistle on their activities and, to everyone's surprise, wins the election. A well-written, funny, and insightful script by Nunnally Johnson combined with good performances from Powell and especially Allen makes for an entertaining film. Songs include: "Thanks a Million," "I'm Sitting High on a Hilltop," "I've Got a Pocketful of Sunshine", "Sugar Plum", "New O'leans", "Sing, Brother," "The Square Deal Party", "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "NRA-ABC."



Image: 4

Fox Cinema Archives, like Warner Archive, are not DVDs in the usual sense but burned just as we would do at home. They have no menus to speak of, only chapter advance every ten minutes. Unless “Remastered” these video discs are simply transferred “from the best materials available” and are thus entirely dependent on the condition of those sources. I might add that to date I have never come across a “Remastered” transfer in the Fox Cinema Archive series. Fox could have helped matters on Thanks a Million just by a modest, across-the-board brightness lift, but as it is, the dark end is unduly emphasized with crush the order of the day. Despite persistent early speckling and the occasional scratch, sharpness and resolution is decent, though the whole movie has that familiar bloom that we associate with old movies we used to watch on television in the Golden Age.



Audio & Music: 5/8

Despite an Oscar nomination for Best Sound, Fox’s rendering is thin and can get a bit screechy when things get boisterous. All the same the movie’s snappy dialogue and varied musical numbers come through well enough to make for an enjoyable experience. There are two featured soloists, each of whom enjoy their own specialty number: David Rubinoff, who likes to grin his audience into submission, on violin, and a woman billed only as “Ramona” (born: Ramona Davies) who accompanies herself on piano with an assist from Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. Her singing might put you in mind of Bessie Smith, who was very big at the time. It’s an odd conjunction - Ramona being white, playing her trademark grand piano and having about as much stage presence as an artichoke. That said, her rendering of "New O'leans" is the musical highlight of this movie and very much worth the price of admission. The title song, sung by Dick Powell, is a lovely ballad that nicely balances the overall riotous tone of the movie.






Recommendation: 7

An entertaining, wickedly funny, politically astute script, smartly acted, with rousing songs and production numbers. The video isn’t really up to snuff, however: the image is too dark and the audio a little cluttered, even for its age.


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

May 25, 2013

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