For Reel

Jazz Heaven (1929)
June 11, 2016, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Melville W. Brown
3 Stars
Jazz HeavenJohnny Mack Brown (here billed just as John) was a former college football star who found his way to Hollywood in the late 1920s. After failing to connect in A-pictures for the major studios, he found his place as one of the premiere B-movie cowboys and a frequent star of serials. Jazz Heaven offers a rare chance to see Brown play a role against type—here, he’s an innocent songwriter who finds a muse that gets him out of a writing slump. She is played by Sally O’Neill, a perky, energetic starlet who one could very easily see as having had the potential to have a more successful career. If Brown and O’Neill are cute together—their early scenes writing music together come with the dual excitement of starting a new relationship and finding artistic inspiration—the plot is paper thin, playing as a harmless, if naive distraction in which the characters’ futures are never in serious jeopardy. Regardless, for 1929 the picture moves at a decent clip, thanks in large part to O’Neill’s lively deliveries, and the music matches the earnest sentimentality of the narrative.