(director: Walter Lang; screenwriters: Vincent Lawrence/Brown Holmes/George Seaton/ Lynn Starling/from the play “Three Blind Mice” by Stephen Powys; cinematographers: Peverell Marley/Leon Shamroy/Allen M. Davey; editor: Walter Thompson; music: Ralph Ranger and Leo Robins; cast: Don Ameche (Phil McNeil ), Betty Grable (Kay Latimer), Robert Cummings (Jeffrey Bolton), Charlotte Greenwood (Susan Latimer), Carole Landis (Barbara Latimer), Jack Haley (Jack O’Hara), Robert Conway (Mr. Lester), George Lessey (William Bolton); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Joe Brown; 20th Century Fox; 1941)

“Adequately serves as escapist entertainment.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Walter Lang (“Can-Can”/”Desk Set”/”Call Me Madame”)directs this pleasant but mindless romantic musical with a painterly eye, that adequately serves as escapist entertainment. It wasthe first of several remakes of 1938’s Three Blind Mice. That one starred Loretta Young, Joel McCrea and David Niven; there was also a 1946 musical version called Three Little Girls in Blue that starred June Haver and George Montgomery. Writers Vincent Lawrence, Brown Holmes, George Seaton and Lynn Starling adapted their screenplay from the play by Stephen Powys. The lush Technicolor is a special treat, and there are a number of catchy tunes such as Kindergarden Conga (Ring Around the Rosey),” “Hurrah for Today,” “Miami,” “I’ve Got You All to Myself,” “Loveliness and Love,” “Is That Good?” and “Solitary Seminole.” The headline song is “You Started Something.”

Kay Latimer (Betty Grable) and Barbara Latimer (Carole Landis) are singing carhop waitresses from Texas, who work in the same drive-in restaurant with their aunt Susan (Charlotte Greenwood)–the cook.The sisters inherit $4,000 from a relative, and Kay talks the other two into using the inheritance to go to swinging Miami so she can snag a rich husband.Kay poses as a millionairess while Barbara poses as Kay’s secretary and Susan as her maid, as the three women check into the ritzy Flamingo Hotel. They meet chatty bartender Jack O’Hara (Jack Haley), who tells about his hatred of fortune-hunters and tells them about his great instincts for spotting phonies. Jack falls for Susan, and thinks Kay is the real deal (so much for his nose for fortune-hunters!).

The bubbly Kay gets nervy and gets an invitation to an on-going party being hosted by the millionaire idler Jeffrey Bolton (Robert Cummings). Phil McNeil (Don Ameche), heir to the McNeil Mines and Jeff’s childhood friend, is also there. The men become intense rivals for the attractive Kay, and the flustered gold digger can’t decide which rich man she prefers. Meanwhile it goes unnoticed by Kay that Barbara has fallen in love with Jeff. After three weeks, the girls owe the hotel $150. Jack comes to the rescue and loans the money to Susan, after he asks for her hand in marriage. Kay realizes she has to act fast to get one of the fellows to propose before she returns home without a rich man, so she tries to decide which fella to snag. At the dance Phil comes clean and tells Kay that he’s broke. Kay confesses that she’s also broke and came to Miami to find a rich man. Even though they both now realize that they love each other, they decide to go separate ways to find a rich partner. Later that night Jeff proposes to Kay, and he introduces her to his playboy dad (George Lessey). Problems arise when Jack overhears the ladies scheming and threatens to warn Jeff that Kay is a fortune-hunter. Before the third act is over matters of the heart get settled, as the girls choose to marry the one they love and with Barbara’s encouragement Jeff accepts a promising job in Brazil offered him by one his father’s wealthy friends and Kay decides that Phil is her man despite his temporary money problems.

It’s the kind of film that tells you money is unimportant, that it’s all about love, yet in the end money is never completely dismissed as being part of the romantic equation. Let’s also not forget the sisters are beauties–which doesn’t hurt their chances with these shallow guys. Though the fantasy love story rings hollow, the screen is filled with beautifully stunning colors and the lively music keeps things watchable when the story drags. There’s even a great action sequence of aspeedboat chase by the rival friends through the Everglades, which is so good it could have worked even in a James Bond film.

Betty Grable in Moon Over Miami (1941)