"Wake up and Live", released in 1937, is maybe the best example of the Twentieth Century Fox musical of the late 30s. Take an amusing screenplay with genuine satire, in this case on radio and based on the publicity seeking feud of journalist Walter Winchell and band leader Ben Bernie, fill it with comedians such as Patsy Kelly and Ned Sparks, specialty acts like the Condos Brothers with their stunning tap routine and Joan Davis with her hilarious dance, and add a delightful leading lady, the gorgeous Alice Faye. The cover art for this DVD captures perfectly the fun in store.
The film was a smash hit in 1937, noted for its art deco sets and its sheer entertainment. Faye fans will be disappointed that her part is not bigger but she pairs beautifully with Jack Haley and her overwhelming personal charm dominates every scene in which she appears. She was a star rapidly moving to the top.
The songs are great too. Haley is dubbed by the smooth vocals of Buddy Clark and Faye has 2 big hits - the bright title song always associated with her and the torchy classic "There's a Lull in my life" subsequently recorded by many famous songstresses. Besides the aforementioned feud, the story tells of Haley's travails to overcome "mike fright," a psychological ailment when someone freezes at the microphone from sheer terror. It is very funny.
The DVD has been issued under the Fox Cinema Archives collection which means it is bare bones - not even a scene selection - and expensive. For that reason, it does not earn 5 stars. A pity too because this film could easily warrant some worthwhile extras informing the modern viewer about all the performers, well known names in their day, and its importance to the bottom line of 20th Century Fox as it emerged into a bigtime studio. At least the print is first rate.