Mill Creek Musings: Sunny (1941)

Sunny Sullivan (Anna Neagle) is a lovely lady who makes her living performing in the circus, crafting exciting song-and-dance numbers for the audience.

Sunny meets and falls in love with Larry Warren (John Carroll), the heir to a very successful automobile  company run by his very wealthy family.

Sunny is worried that her boyfriend’s family will not approve of her if she lets them know what she does for work, so she decides to hide it from them.

But while Sunny meets and gets acquainted with the Warren family, her buddies from the circus (including none other than the great Ray Bolger!) decide to stop by, letting her secret out.

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

Sunny was released in 1941 and is now in the public domain, appearing in Mill Creek’s 50 Classic Musicals set. It was directed by Herbert Wilcox. The film is a remake of a pre-code musical of the same title, which was released in 1930 and starred Marilyn Miller.

The story told by Sunny is quite light and highly predictable. Apparently the 1930 version was much different, focusing less on music and more on a fleshier plot. (This 1941 version does get more dramatic as it progresses, with musical numbers becoming less frequent, but the story still doesn’t hold a heavy amount of substance.)

Though predictable, 1941’s Sunny is highly enjoyable throughout most of its run time. In the second half it movies a bit slowly, but Neagle and Carroll have very nice chemistry which carries the film successfully.

The supporting performances are great as well, including Ray Bolger and Edward Everett Horton. Bolger’s dance numbers are definitely a highlight. They’re cleverly choreographed and often accompanied by that corny, circus-y sense of humor. Some of them are void of corn and truly lovely, including his first second number, in which he dances with Neagle.

(Image via Doctor Macro)
(Image via Doctor Macro)

As for the quality of this print in Mill Creek’s set, it’s decent. The sound fluctuates a bit in volume, with the musical numbers sounding a lot louder than the dialogue. There’s also quite a bit of grain to the picture and some of the brighter scenes look washed out, but the beauty of the cinematography still shines through that distortion.

Sunny is a pretty good watch. Not the best in the 50 Classic Musicals set, but certainly worthy of the viewer’s time. The score: 3.5/5

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