Review: ‘Till the Clouds Roll by’

Why quibble about the story? It's notable that the Jerome Kern saga [from a screen story by Guy Boton, adaptation by George Wells] reminds of the Cole Porter Night and Day - both apparently enjoyed a monotonously successful life. No early-life struggles, no frustrations, nothing but an uninterrupted string of Broadway and West End show success. Nearest thing to travail is Kern's contretemps with turn-of-the-century Broadway impresario Charles Frohman, who was apparently a rabid Anglophile - 'no good songsmith in America; the only good ones come from Europe.'

Why quibble about the story? It’s notable that the Jerome Kern saga [from a screen story by Guy Boton, adaptation by George Wells] reminds of the Cole Porter Night and Day – both apparently enjoyed a monotonously successful life. No early-life struggles, no frustrations, nothing but an uninterrupted string of Broadway and West End show success. Nearest thing to travail is Kern’s contretemps with turn-of-the-century Broadway impresario Charles Frohman, who was apparently a rabid Anglophile – ‘no good songsmith in America; the only good ones come from Europe.’

Of the basic cast, Robert Walker is completely sympathetic as Kern. Van Heflin plays Jim Hessler, the arranger-composer-confidante, whose life story parallels Kern’s in a Damon- and-Pythias plot. (Some real-life counterpart may be the veteran arranger, Frank Sadler.)

Picture actually opens with Show Boat, a 1927 whammo. There is virtually a tabloid version of that operetta utilized for the opener, a play-within-a-play and the rest of the story is virtually a success-story flashback. [Musical numbers staged and directed by Robert Alton.]

Till the Clouds Roll by

Production

M-G-M. Director Richard Whorf, [George Sidney, Vincente Minnelli]; Producer Arthur Freed; Screenplay Myles Connolly, Jean Holloway; Camera Harry Stradling, George J. Folsey; Editor Albert Akst; Music Lennie Hayton (dir.); Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1946. Running time: 120 MIN.

With

Robert Walker Judy Garland Lucille Bremer Joan Wells Van Heflin Dorothy Patrick
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