Review: ‘True to Life’

Taking the premise, in an audible intro title that 'life should mirror the movies, instead of the movies reflecting life', the escapist theme of True to Life is quickly set. It treats radio family serials with tongue-in-cheek but utilizes the radio soap opera appeal for the plot bulwark of a frothy film. Franchot Tone and Dick Powell are the all-written-out radio scripters on the verge of losing their $1,000-a-week jobs because their Kitty Farmer serial has become too phoney. Powell, in search for down-to-the-peasants material, runs into hash-house waitress Mary Martin whose real-life family in Sunnyside, a suburb of NY, and their zany behaviorisms provide the authors with almost literal libretto.

Taking the premise, in an audible intro title that ‘life should mirror the movies, instead of the movies reflecting life’, the escapist theme of True to Life is quickly set. It treats radio family serials with tongue-in-cheek but utilizes the radio soap opera appeal for the plot bulwark of a frothy film. Franchot Tone and Dick Powell are the all-written-out radio scripters on the verge of losing their $1,000-a-week jobs because their Kitty Farmer serial has become too phoney. Powell, in search for down-to-the-peasants material, runs into hash-house waitress Mary Martin whose real-life family in Sunnyside, a suburb of NY, and their zany behaviorisms provide the authors with almost literal libretto.

Action shuttles between the bourgeois Sunnyside family menage and the lush apartment and slick Radio City environment of the Powell-Tone team. Three songs, all good, are skillfully interwoven and the finale is a madcap radio pickup of how things right themselves. Well-paced direction by George Marshall and some excellent scripting do much to hold the madcap proceedings together.

True to Life

Production

Paramount. Director George Marshall; Producer Paul Jones; Screenplay Don Hartman, Harry Tugend; Camera Charles Lang Jr; Music Victor Young

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Mary Martin Franchot Tone Dick Powell Victor Moore William Demarest Ernest Truex
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