Today is July 28, the eighth day of our celebration of the Breen era of the Code (1934-1954), #CleanMovieMonth. Every day in July, I am writing about a different movie from this time. By analyzing them, I hope to show the way the Code made these movies the masterpieces of decent entertainment that they are.
With extreme heat and multiple wildfires, California is not the most ideal location this weekend. Thus, we are dreaming of more ideal vacation spots. To escape the heat and smoke, we are going on a holiday to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands with Waikiki Wedding from 1937. Bing Crosby and Shirley Ross are our tour guides on this musical excursion, which will take us through Hawaiian folklore and rich culture. The Code will be the rule book which protects us during the trip.
Georgia Smith of Birch Falls is chosen as Miss Pineapple Queen, receiving a free trip to the Hawaiian Islands. This is part of a publicity campaign for J. P. Todhunter’s pineapple company, which is located in Hawaii. The idea for this contest and trip was formulated by Tony Marvin, the company’s publicity man. Miss Smith is supposed to write her memoirs about the trip, which will be printed as goodwill for tourism to the Islands. Everything seems wonderful. There is only one problem; Georgia isn’t enjoying her holiday in the tropical paradise. She is lonely and bored. She and her comical companion, a romantic, clumsy young woman named Myrtle Finch, are seeing artifacts and scenery, but the location lacks the romance and excitement which she was promised. Georgia has decided to go home and tell people what she really thought of Hawaii in her daily memoirs. J. P. Todhunter is panicking, and he can’t find Tony Marvin, whom he holds responsible for the whole catastrophe. Tony is relaxing on a boat with his droll friend, Shad Buggle, who is inseparable from a pig named Wilfred. Tony is more interested in singing and sailing than working. However, duty calls, and Tony must report to Mr. Todhunter to save his failing plan. If Georgia Smith wants romance, he will give it to her himself. He starts by serenading her outside her hotel room, not realizing that only Myrtle is in. When he sees the overzealous young woman, he assumes that she is the contest winner, so he leaves Shad to take her out. She takes an immediate liking to Shad, but he is more interested in his pig. Later that evening, Georgia goes to mail some letters. As she is walking along, her heel breaks. She calls to Tony, who is working on his ship at the dock where her accident occurred. She asks to borrow his hammer so that she can knock her heel back on. His hammer ends up in the water. Then, he tries to help her put the heel back on, and he ends up pushing her in the water. He’s gotten off to a great start with her, not realizing that she is the contest winner. Meanwhile, Georgia has a possessive fiancé back home, Victor Quimby, who is a high-strung dentist. She doesn’t really love him, but he’s convenient, so she’s going to marry him. The next day, she plans to leave the island by boat. Tony can’t let that happen. He stages an elaborate, dramatic mystery to keep her on the island and give her the excitement she craves. She is given a necklace by a mysterious sailor at the dock. Because of it, she and Myrtle are taken to a strange destination by a suspicious cab driver. They end up on a little boat with some natives, where Tony and Shad are also located. Inside the necklace, there is a huge black pearl. It was stolen, and now it must be returned to its rightful place on another island. If it isn’t, the volcanic god will be very angry. During this exciting boat trip, Tony and Georgia spend a romantic evening together under the moonlight on the beautiful water. Naturally, poor Georgia is falling for Tony because of his charm and the beauty of the surroundings. Tony’s plan is going according to schedule. He arranged everything, and with the help of his native friend, Kimo, it is being carried out. However, something is happening which he didn’t plan. He is falling in love with Georgia. Now, he feels guilty for deceiving her. She thinks he is so sincere and honest, but he knows that she’d be heartbroken to learn the truth about him. How long will it be until she discovers the plot behind the exciting drama? Will she forgive Tony for deceiving her? Will she believe that he really loves her, aside from the job he was supposed to do? Watch the movie to find out!
Tony Marvin is played by Bing Crosby. Georgia Smith is played by Shirley Ross. Myrtle Finch is played by Martha Raye. Shad Buggle is played by Bob Burns. J. P. Todhunter is played by George Barbier. Kimo is played by Anthony Quinn. Dr. Victor Quimby is played by Leif Erickson.
Waikiki Wedding features some lovely crooning by Bing Crosby, who is joined frequently by Shirley Ross. The score is a tropical ensemble of island-themed songs. Mr. Crosby sings “Sweet is the Word for You,” which is later reprised by Miss Ross. He also sings “Nani Ona Pua,” and “Sweet Leilani,” which won an Academy Award for Best Song. On the boat during the phony adventure, Bing Crosby introduced the famous song about the Hawaiian Islands, “Blue Hawaii.” As he reprises, Shirley Ross joins in. The exotic accompaniment paints a lovely, musical portrait of tropical paradise. This famous song became the theme song and title of a later Paramount film, Blue Hawaii with Elvis Presley from 1961. However, I think that his more famous rendition lacks the charm and sentiment of this original version. Shirley Ross sings “In a Little Hula Heaven.” Martha Raye sings a comical song, “Okolehau,” complete with dancing and all her usual antics.
This is a really good Code film. It’s a great escape to the most exotic part of the United States. Although Hawaii was not yet a state in 1937, it was a territory. As such, it was of interest to Americans who wanted to travel to exotic locations without going too far from home. In tropically-set movies like this, there is going to be a lot of swimming and sunbathing. This creates the potential for scanty bathing-suits and skimpy native costumes. However, because of the Code, there is none of that in this movie. There are very few bathing suits, and all of them are decent. The costumes were carefully reviewed. In addition, the dialogue and situations are all acceptable. The humor is amusing and charming. The plot is exciting. This is my idea of a Hawaiian vacation! The next time you go to Hawaii, be sure to take the Code along with you!
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