James Hamilton Haskel (James Stewart) is a small-town kind of guy who'd much rather run his dad's music store and let kids practise the piano and trumpet in his shop than work for the Haskel health food business run by his Uncle Charley (Charles Winninger). Unfortunately, he's also got to eat, so he finally accepts Uncle Charley's offer of a chance to get to know the business better... only to turn up in town and immediately befriend the very musical McCorkle family, including Ma (Mary Gordon), who cooks for everyone in the band and takes care of them like a big mother hen; and Molly (Paulette Goddard). The McCorkles and Horace Heidt's band play swing music on the roof just next to the Haskel factory, which drives poor music-hating Uncle Charley completely batty. Ma McCorkle and Uncle Charley are bitter rivals, but the oblivious younger generation (well, Molly at least doesn't know that Jimmy is the Haskel Health Food heir) quickly become friends and (of course!) fall in love, thanks to a tomato misthrown, a doughnut shared and a harmonica rendition of 'Pete The Piper'. Jimmy decides to use his uncle's radio show, the Haskel Happiness Hour, to promote Molly and Horace Heidt's band, and hopefully heal the Haskel-McCorkle rift. This results in a hilarious sequence in which Jimmy has to convince Uncle Charley that the latter has gone crazy and hears all kinds of music through the vents and floors, on the phone and sees girls dancing in the garden... all to get him out of town. When Molly finally *does* find out that Jimmy is a Haskel though, she angrily announces on the air that the Haskel Happiness Hour would be giving away a thousand dollars every week--which infuriates Uncle Charley (listening in from Canada) and gets Jimmy in trouble... how to give the money away without making it a lottery? And how are the now bickering twosome going to get back together again?
A musical is really the last type of movie you'd figure James Stewart to be in, but that's exactly what POT O'GOLD is... and oddly enough, it doesn't really suffer for it. All the songs, including the opening 'Hi Cy, What's Cookin'?', 'Pete The Piper' and 'Broadway Caballero' (with great vocals by Goddard), are toe-tappingly catchy and cute, and actually function quite successfully as an extension of the plot. I also really like the cutlery-banging number performed to initiate Jimmy into the McCorkle Clan, but am especially partial towards the rousing jailhouse singsong 'Johnny Toots His Horn'... which not only features Jimmy Haskel playing the harmonica, but also Jimmy Stewart singing! And he doesn't sound bad at all--it was probably a good choice to limit his singing voice to the one song, and use a song that fit his limited range well. Instead of appearing a fool, he comes off well, and one can actually believe that Jimmy Haskel's a music-loving, musical guy.
My *favourite* number, however, is Molly's dream sequence to the sweet ballad, 'Do You Believe In Fairy Tales?'. As Molly drifts off to sleep and awakens to find herself dressed as a princess, she cranes her neck eagerly to look for her knight in shining armour, riding a white steed... and there he is! Or is he? In a self-consciously anti-climactic (and therefore truly hilarious) moment, Jimmy Haskel saunters in as... Jimmy Haskel. Same suit, same hat, same harmonica. He serenades her in Horace Heidt's borrowed voice, then twitches noticeably when she 'romantically' empties a bucket of flowers over his head. The scene is written and executed with tongue planted very firmly in cheek, satirising the romantic dreams of a young girl, while making a sweet but very subtle point that Molly loves Jimmy exactly as he already is. He doesn't need to be a knight in shining armour; he's just Jimmy. It's a point she forgets later (and finally learns again) when she discovers his last name is Haskel. It's a great song, a great scene, and Stewart is incredibly... well, the only word for him is 'cute'.
That goes for pretty much the entire film--his character has, of course, the typical Stewart soft side, this time manifested in his love of music and his ability to connect with and touch others through its language. But there's a harder edge in Jimmy Haskel too, manifested by his willingness to pull the wool over his poor uncle's eyes, or when he's sniping rudely at Molly after they've 'broken up' (before ever really getting together!). Stewart ultimately creates a very real character, a sweet guy who isn't perfect, who isn't averse to a lie now and then, and more than willing to give as good as he gets. (It's Molly who starts the bickering: thumping him on the head and pulling him down the stairs to wake him up, spraying him with seltzer water--he only returns the final favour.) James Hamilton Haskel is no patsy, and no paragon of virtue... and Stewart gives him the charm and the aw-shucks demeanour Haskel needs to be plausibly taken into the bosom of the McCorkle family as he so quickly is.
The rest of the cast is excellent as well, considering how much this really is Stewart's film (from screen time to performance)--Winninger is fantastic as CJ Haskel, the unreasonable tycoon whose hatred of music sets him up as the villain of the piece... it's a shame that he suddenly seems to be transformed into a new man at the end, though that could be explained by the lucrative prospects in the revamped radio show. Gordon makes a great Ma McCorkle, bustling, cheery, and most importantly, not annoying--however saintly and Irish she gets. Her raucous laughter is probably the key to remaining likable! Goddard also puts up a fine show: she's great when she's onscreen, and has a really good singing voice as well.
POT O'GOLD really is an excellent film--not a classic, but excellent. It may not be everyone's cup of tea... but I personally don't think the film is uneven. It's meant to be funny, to be a little madcap, to be sweet. It's a romantic comedy told in musical form, just like SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, though certainly not on its level. In the end, it's just a film that makes you smile (from beginning to end), that stars James Stewart in his prime (which is very prime indeed), and that even sings to you--a language everyone can understand. In fact, its musical sequences are inventive, charming, and even genius in one case. If you're a fan of Stewart, this is definitely a film you'll want to watch--you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was on discovering the charm of POT O'GOLD!
Pot o' Gold
Comedy / Musical / Romance
Pot o' Gold
Comedy / Musical / Romance
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Jimmy, the owner of a failed music shop, goes to work with his uncle, the owner of a food factory. Before he gets there, he befriends an Irish family who happens to be his uncle's worst enemy because of their love for music and in-house band who constantly practices. Soon, Jimmy finds himself trying to help the band by getting them gigs and trying to reconcile the family with his uncle, an avid music hater, all while winning the heart of the beautiful Molly.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
May 17, 2022 at 07:35 AM