Song of the Open Road (1944) Poster

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Jane Powell's first film. W.C. Fields' last film. A tuneful delight!
sdiner8210 July 2001
Jane Powell's film debut is now forgotten and seems to have disappeared into obscurity--unlike her later MGM technicolored treats. A pity, because this cheerful tale of a teenaged movie star, fed up with her mediocre films and bland girl-next-door image, runs off incognito to join a group of youngsters striving to preserve the fruitions of farming. If that synopsis sounds dated, it certainly is, and who cares?. The plot is a serviceable enough vehicle for an unpretentious, black-and-white, engaging spotlight for a number of first-rate songs (Jane's zesty renditions of the catchy "Rolling Down the Road," "Here it is Monday"; and the underrated Jackie Moran's haunting rendition of the lovely, wistful ballad "Too Much In Love," deserving its Oscar nomination for Best Song). Plus a finale with special appearances by, among others, the Great Man W.C. Fields, absolutely dead-on hilarious in his last film appearance. AMC has the rights to this film and every two years or so, sneaks it quietly into early A.M. slots when they figure no one is watching TV anyway. A pity, because this low-keyed gloriously melodic charmer is first-rate in every department and deserves a long-overdue rescue from obscurity.
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One of the first musicals I saw
lynzee1 August 2000
This movie made such a wonderful impression. Unable to find it on tape or CD, I still recall the story and songs more than forty years later. Fell in love with Edgar Bergen, Jane Powell etc. for life. Sadly it is not on TV for unknown reasons. Wish everyone who loves music could see it.
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Nice movie and Jane Powell's debut film Warning: Spoilers
This is not a great film, but it is worth watching to see Jane Powell ion her first film. She plays herself in the movie. She was given the name Jane Powell by the studio in real life. She is a movie actress who does films and shorts. She fears her mother and does not understand her and she goes to hang out with kids her age that she shot a short film with. Edgar Bergen & W.C. Fields show up along the way to add some star power. Jane Powell looks so young, but her voice is amazing even at that young age. It amazes me how well Jane did acting in this film. She does basically play herself. The kids she hangs with are regular down to earth kids. The films follows them around as they help others. The final scene has everyone helping out pick oranges that will go to the men and women overseas that were at war. Good film and worth a look.
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Would LOVE to see it again...and again.
gingaw29 April 2007
I can't count the number of unsuccessful hours I have spent searching for a copy of the precious movie on the Internet. I was so impressed with it that, in the fall of 1944 and at the age of eight, I ran away from home. Came back the next day. I guess Jane was better prepared! I have read and reread her biography, The Girl Next Door which makes this, her first film, all the more amazing. Regardless, if anyone knows where a copy of this adorable film is available, please contact me. I would certainly appreciate receiving an email about getting a copy or just a general chit-chat about my first love. Ron in Texas (
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Jane Powell has become tired of being Jane Powell.
mark.waltz11 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This is a fictional character, the singing teen star Jane Powell here, probably not anything like the real lady that is one of the last of the great leading ladies of Hollywood's golden age still with us. In this, her first film, she is a 1940's version of Deanna Durbin, a "little miss fix-it" who wants to have a real life, thrilled when she is given a lifetime membership to teen hostels around the country, and determined to become involved in the work these kids are doing on farms all over to support the war effort. Running away from her well meaning but domineering mother (Rose Hobart), Powell hides out in a work camp under an assumed name and unwittingly creates a lot of trouble as she tries to blend in, eventually feeling forced to reveal her true identity so they won't turn their backs on her. They learn that a big storm is a-comin' and with Jane's help put on a big show (not all that big really, just a few names popping in) to collect volunteers to save the orange crop that might be destroyed if they aren't removed from the trees before the storm hits.

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy (along with Mortimer Snerd) are seen early in the film for supporting parts in Powell's latest teen musical (along with Sammy Kaye's band) and come in for the last reel, getting one last chance to insult a very tired looking W.C. Fields who tries to give em' the gusto but doesn't quite score. The focus is on Powell and her interference in the older teen's relationships, failing to fix the bicycles she was assigned to work on, and rejected until she breaks into song to prove who she really is. Jackie Moran, Bonita Granville and Peggy O'Neill represent the teen element of the story. The film opens with a very enjoyable bicycle song (on the film within the film) but the story gets a little gooey and unbelievable as total strangers gathered together assuming they are there for a show are basically bribed into working for free in exchange for some big band music, some light comedy and a few songs from Powell. As outlandish as that plot element is, it still did stress the need for a community of strangers getting together to work for the cause of soldiers and sailors in need of crops like the oranges, tomatoes and lima beans being picked. Powell, still radiant in her late 80's as I write this (having found a recent interview with her complete with recent photos), hasn't changed at all, and while she might have felt she contributed little to screen art, there is a sweetness about her at the age of 15 that is still there at the age of 89. That aspect alone is Hollywood magic!
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