If it happened in Brooklyn, it must have happened in metaphorical or mythological rather than real Brooklyn, because it's not the Brooklyn of my memory. It Happened in Brooklyn is a 1947 musical, I guess you'd have to call it, featuring still skinny Frank Sinatra and womanly Kathryn Grayson, and also Jimmie Durante, who steals the show. And also the ever-luminous Gloria Grahame in a very small role as an Army nurse in England. Brooklyn is evoked as a fairy tale land where everyone is nice to everyone and jobs and money fall from the trees -- kind of an urban big rock candy mountain. Not the case -- though nowadays Brooklyn, which used to be mocked, is every Twenty-Something's land of putative milk and theoretical honey. In truth there's nothing much that is recognizably Brooklynian, even in geography, to my jaded old eyes except a rather beautiful sequence of Frank Sinatra singing and "dancing" on Brooklyn Bridge. Most of the action takes place in the basement of New Utrecht High School, but it's only a Hollywood sound stage.
Sinatra, a returned soldier, thinks he's in love with Kathryn Grayson but she prefers Peter Lawford, playing the shy grandson of an English Dook. The film is worth seeing if only because Sinatra and Grayson sing, believe it or not, "La ci darem la mano" from Don Giovanni -- as far as I know Sinatra's only foray into grand opera. If I had been the screenwriter, I would have had Gloria Grahame jump on a luxury liner and return to Brooklyn for the climactic concluding scene, rather than remaining, as she does, merely a sweet overseas memory of Frankie's.
|It Happened in Brooklyn|