Sensations of 1945 ★★★½

Sensations of 1945 (1944!), while not exactly sensational, is nonetheless quite an enjoyable little movie. It looks back to vaudeville and forward to Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night TV show, Toast of the Town. The movie consists of a series of variety acts loosely held together by a rather flimsy plot line. Such films were fairly common as light entertainment during World War II.

Eleanor Powell, less arch than usual, plays a dancer whose press agent is Dennis O'Keefe. Together, they concoct a series of publicity schemes in order to promote Powell and other performers. Among the acts shown are acrobats, a tightrope walker, and Woody Herman and his band. Highlights include two songs by Sophie Tucker and an extraordinary musical turn by a young jazz pianist named Dorothy Donegan. Donegan, in her only film appearance, performs in an all African-American sequence which includes Cab Calloway and his orchestra. (Perhaps significantly, the only people seen dancing to the music in this sequence are young white folks). W.C. Fields, in his last film, appears in a painfully unfunny skit.

Director Andrew Stone, known later in his career for disaster films, such as Cry Terror(1958) and The Last Voyage (1960), keeps things moving along nicely. The interplay between Eugene Pallette and his film son O’Keefe (known as “Junior” throughout the movie) is quite amusing.

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