“I can’t act or write...I don’t know anything, really nothing at all.”
“That statement alone makes you unique and invaluable.”
Big shot Hollywood producer Oliver Merlin (played by future Communist witch hunter Adolph Menjou) has lost his touch — his big-budgeted lavish productions have all of the style that they need, but there isn’t a scrap of humanity to them. While shooting a scene in the country with his prima donna actress Olga (Vera Zorina), he overhears local gal Hazel Dawes input her two cents. On a whim (not to mention desperate to reclaim his image), Oliver hires Hazel as his own personal “Miss Humanity” and sets her up in a nice townhouse in the big city, pitching his ideas to her and changing everything at a moment’s notice when she disapproves.
That, in a nutshell, is the premise of The Goldwyn Follies from 1938: a Technicolor musical fantasy which, like many lighthearted musicals, dispenses with any serious drama and simply sets out to entertain its audience. Throughout the rather lengthy 116-minute runtime, Hazel meets a singing hamburger cook named Danny (Kenny Baker — no, not the guy that played R2D2, but rather the young man with the powerful tenor voice who was once a regular performer on Jack Benny's radio show and who appeared in the Marx Brothers’ At The Circus the following year).
Danny and Hazel hit it off instantly, and her faith in his talent leads her to get her boss to “discover” the gifted singer for his new picture — which is all fine and dandy but, naturally, Oliver has his eyes set on Hazel, too. Oddly enough, things haven’t changed much in Hollywood, only now it’s the producer’s girlfriend dreaming up the (bad) ideas; there’s a lot of cocaine involved; and love triangles usually end up in a well-publicized murder/suicide scandal, but other than that…