Tyrone Power and Don Ameche were originally set for the top honors with Alice Faye, but casting assignments necessitated shifts of Jack Oakie and John Payne into the Power-Ameche slots, and addition of Betty Grable. Hays Office also stepped in and required extended cutting of the harem number, nixing what was claimed a too vivid display of showgirls’ torsos. Particularly efficient job of cutting in this sequence retains all of the entertainment, and speeds things up in what might have developed into a slowdown spot.
Story [by Pamela Harris] carries background of the noisy but colorful stretch of 46th Street and 8th Avenue, headquartering successful and shoestring song publishers in 1915. Oakie is a typical breezy ex-vaudevillian, teamed with tunesmith-ambitious Payne in a publishing venture. The impecunious pair hit the jackpot with a pop tune, and swing into swank offices, with main song-plugging end handled by Faye, half of a sister act who warms up to Payne. But there’s the inevitable romantic split. Faye hops to London to become a music hall sensation with Grable.
In addition to infectious and solid entertainment factors, Tin Pan Alley focuses attention on the Edgar Leslie-Archie Gottler hit of 1917, ‘America I Love You’. Other old favorites brought back for renewed interest include ‘Goodbye Broadway, Hello France’, ‘K-K-Katy’, ‘Moonlight Bay’, ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and ‘Shiek of Araby’. New tune ‘You Say the Sweetest Things (Baby)’, by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, is enhanced by extended production montage.
Oakie provides a standout characterization as the free-and-easy vaudevillian, generating plenty of laughs with his mugging lines and situations that highlight his abilities. Faye is highlighted as the senior member of the sister act, and carries most of the singing burden to topmost effect. Grable displays her shapeliness in a series of abbreviated and eyeful costumes, although the camera in other respects is sometimes none too flattering; and Payne catches attention with his serious-minded portrayal of the ambitious song publisher and suitor in the romantic sequences.
1940: Best Score