Colleen (1936): Alfred Green’s Romantic Musical, Starring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler

Directed by Alfred E. Green, the romantic musical Colleen again teams Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler (they made 7 films together).

But the film is not as fresh or exciting as the couple’s previous collaborations, like 42nd Street and Flirtation Walk, which preceded it.

Cedric Ames (Hugh Herbert) is the absent-minded president of a large business, which is run by his subordinates, including his nephew Donald (Powell).

When Cedric hires an assistant, Joe Cork (Jack Oakie), the latter sees his boss as an easy mark.  While touring a candy company in one of the buildings he owns, Cedric meets a “chocolate dipper,” Minnie Hawkins (Joan Blondell). Influenced by his assistant, he buys a dress shop for Minnie, who’s a gold digger.

Colleen Reilly, the bookkeeper at the dress shop, is angry when Donald plans to close it. When newspaper headlines about the story, Colleen uses the opportunity to stage a fashion show, and the shop becomes profitable.

Donald asks her to dinner to discuss plans for the shop, and she reveals that she’ s engaged to Joe Cork. Meanwhile, Joe and Minnie concoct a plan to have Cedric adopt Minnie, and for Joe will marry her.

Cedric’s wife Alicia, scandalized, forces Donald to close the shop, but he’s in love with Colleen. Minnie and Joe get fired, and in revenge, Minnie sues Cedric for $5 million dollars for breaking his promise to adopt her, and Joe sues Donald for $5 million for stealing Colleen. They are both bought off with $25,000.

Colleen, also fired, is given a check for $10,000 to decline any legal claims; she hangs up on Donald when he tries to explain that it was a mistake. Broken-hearted, Colleen accepts an offer to open a dress shop on an ocean liner. Donald is on the same ship, with Cedric and his wife, and when he sees Colleen, they reconcile and get engaged.

Running time: 89 Minutes

Release date: March 21, 1936

Songs

  • Boulevardier from the Bronx
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Sung and danced by Blondell and Jack Oakie
  • An Evening with You
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Sung by Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell
  • I Don’t Have to Dream Again
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Sung by Powell and chorus and danced by chorus
    • Sung as “The Magic and the Mystery of Clothes” by Ruby Keeler
  • Summer Night
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Played on piano and hummed by Dick Powell
  • You Gotta Know How to Dance
    • Music by Harry Warren
    • Lyrics by Al Dubin
    • Played during the opening photo credits and sung with lyrics by Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Jack Oakie, Joan Blondell, and tap-danced by Paul Draper and chorus
    • Sung by Dick Powell, danced by Paul Draper and Ruby Keeler in the finale
  • Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
    • Written by Richard Wagner
  • I Love You Truly
    • Written by Carrie Jacobs Bond