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Sing Your Worries Away

Sing Your Worries Away(1942)

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teaser Sing Your Worries Away (1942)

This RKO Radio Pictures musical was Bert Lahr's first film after playing the Cowardly Lion in MGM's The Wizard of Oz (1939)... and signed up to be his costar was Buddy Ebsen, who had been obliged to relinquish the role of the Tin Man in that film to Jack Haley when he suffered an extreme allergic reaction to the silver makeup required for the role. Produced under the alternate working titles Why Worry? and I'm Dying to Live, Sing Your Worries Away (1942) seems on the surface more tailored to the impoverished days of the Great Depression than to the anxious ramp up to World War II (the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was just three months past) and in fact American moviegoers showed little interest in this breezy laugh-and-sing-a-long, whose failure at the box office sent RKO a quarter of a million dollars into the red. Seventy-odd years later, Sing Your Worries Away is better appreciated as the charming romp it is, casting the gangly Ebsen as a psychic ("I see things! I get cosmic rays!") who follows a missing friend to a gangland nightclub, where he partners with sneezy songwriter Lahr (shamelessly cannibalizing his Cowardly Lion shtick) and acerbic hatcheck girl Patsy Kelly to thwart a criminal gang (led by Sam Levene and Morgan Conway). The King Sisters and bandleader Alvino Rey appear as themselves in production numbers, while director A. Edward Sutherland's supporting cast includes the always welcome presence of Margaret Dumont, Charles Middleton, and June Havoc.

By Richard Harland Smith

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