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one of the best early musicals...
sws-315 November 1999
This is a unique film in the history of musicals. Neither of the leads can sing; most of the dancing, whether by the stars or chorus girls, is rudimentary at best; the story is a familiar litany of 1920's stage cliches, and was dated almost immediately. Yet, it is utterly charming and effective. Part of this has to do with the appealing cast (particularly Janet Gaynor), but most of the credit goes to songwriter/producers DeSylva Brown & Henderson, and director David Butler. The music is integrated into the story in a dramatically sophisticated and cinematically daring way. The production number "Turn On the Heat" is, conceptually, a model for what Busby Berkeley would do in the 1930's.

If your only exposure to early musicals is that award-winning dud "The Broadway Melody", check out "Sunny Side Up" (or, for that matter, "The Love Parade"). You'll be pleasantly surprised.
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Southampton Sweet Music
lugonian17 May 2008
SUNNYSIDE UP (Fox, 1929), directed by David Butler, the fourth screen teaming of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, ranks one of their most enjoyable outings. Following their success of SEVENTH HEAVEN (1927), STREET ANGEL (1928) and LUCKY STAR (1929), produced during the tail end of the silent film era, SUNNYSIDE UP introduced them to the new cycle of "talking pictures" in which they not only talk but sing as well, with Gaynor's voice resembling that of a child. Although she sings adequately, Farrell does not. With so many musicals produced during the dawn of sound, SUNNYSIDE UP, subtitled "an original musical comedy," promises just that. No backstage story in "The Broadway Melody" tradition nor reworking of old Broadway shows as "Rio Rita" for example, but a contemporary love story set in the summer where two unlikely dreamers of different backgrounds meet and make sweet music together.

Chapter One: "New York, July 4th, with 4 Million" The story opens with a view of residents from the lower East Side of Manhattan going about their every day lives prior to the upcoming block party. Living in the community are Eric Swenson (El Brendel), a grocery store owner; the youthful Molly Carr (Janet Gaynor) sharing her tenement apartment with her best friend, Bee Nichols (Marjorie White), whose boyfriend, Eddie Rafferty (Frank Richardson), is a songwriter. Molly is a dreamer who reads society columns about her dream man, millionaire Jack Cromwell. Chapter Two: "Southampton, Long Island, .July 4th with the "400" Jack Cromwell (Charles Farrell), the youthful son of society snobs, is hopelessly in love with the upper crust Jane Worth (Sharon Lynne), who refuses to marry in favor of remaining in circulation with the fun crowd. After seeing her walking off with another man, Jack drives off his estate in anger. Later that night Jack ends up on the lower East side where he loses control of his car to avoid hitting a child. In a bewildered state, Swenson offers the young man his apartment to rest for a while. As fate would have it, Jack turns up in Molly's apartment instead. After getting acquainted and watching her perform at the block party, Jack invites her and her friends to act as entertainers for their charity carnival. Chapter Three: Feeling she would be out of place, Mary agrees to appear as Jack's guests, posing as a society girl with Eric as butler, Bee the maid and Eddie as her chauffeur. All goes well until vicious rumors circulate about Molly, whose dreams are soon shattered by Jack's proposed decision.

With a bright score by Buddy DeSylva, Ray Henderson and Lew Brown (credited with their surnames only), the motion picture soundtrack is as follows: "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?" (Sung by Janet Gaynor directly to the camera); "You'll Find the Time and I'll Find the Place" (sung by Sharon Lynn); "Pickin' Petals Off Daisies" (sung by Frank Richardson and Marjorie White); "Sunny Side Up" (Gaynor/ reprized by Richardson and White); "Turn on the Heat" (Sung by Sharon Lynn /Frank Richardson/ danced by chorus); "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" (sung by Farrell, Gaynor and children); "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All" (sung by Gaynor); "Anytime You're Necht of a Broad Moonlight" (sung by Marjorie White) and "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" (sung by Farrell and Gaynor).

Had SUNNYSIDE UP been a silent, there would be no doubt that "I'm a Dreamer" would have become its theme score. "Sunnyside Up" is a lively tune where Gaynor sings, shuffles and concludes with her jumping over a hat during the 4th of July festival. Being one of the hit tunes of the day, it was later vocalized for its closing to the 1973 comedy PAPER MOON (Paramount) starring Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. "Turn on the Heat" gets the production number treatment at the society party consisting of risqué lyrics and energetic dancing. As for the "Talking Picture" song, it's quite timely, considering its introduction during the advent of "talking pictures." With a considerable amount of movie extras filling out the crowd scenes, look for future child star Jackie Cooper as Jerry Maginnis as the little boy reciting a poem at the block party. The actor playing Joe Vitto, undertaker and master of ceremonies, is enacted by Joe Brown, whose name can sometimes be linked or confused with famed comedian Joe E. Brown. Marjorie White and Frank Richardson are agreeable as the secondary couple supplying fine comedy relief.

While many references label SUNNY SIDE UP with the running time of 81 minutes, it's surprising to find it's actually 122 minutes. In spite of its length, the movie moves briskly and surprisingly doesn't have that primitive appearance as most first talkies have prior to 1930.

Formerly available on video cassette in 1998 by Critic's Choice Video Masterpiece Collection, television revivals for SUNNY SIDE UP have been extremely rare. Aside from limited broadcasts at some local public broadcasting channels in the early 1990s, it became part of cable TV's American Movie Classic's annual film preservation festival that took place appropriately enough in July 1996, and finally Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 21, 2010). Regardless of its age and "corny" situations, SUNNYSIDE UP is still an entertaining antique. This, along with DELICIOUS (1931), another musical featuring Gaynor, Farrell and Brendel, should be an appropriate companion piece if ever considered as part of a double feature presentation on DVD. (***)
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superior early musical
mukava99116 October 2010
"Sunny Side Up," a major hit in its day, still entertains probably because of the combination of a winsome leading lady (Janet Gaynor), a game director (David Butler) and last but not least an integrated script and score, both created by DeSylva, Brown and Henderson at their creative peak as a trio.

The film opens with a much admired, ambitious crane shot that explores a crowded tenement street, peering into open windows and back out to the cobblestones. Much of the action is stagey and a bit forced, but the spirit behind it is admirable and prefigures a more elaborate and technically slicker sequence in "42nd Street" a few years later. This opening panorama of a certain section of society is echoed later when the action shifts to a garden party at a Southampton Estate.

The sweet-natured story involves a poor working girl (Gaynor) who dreams of pairing with a wealthy high society gentleman (Charles Farrell) whose picture she spots in the newspaper in relation to a charity function. Since this is a movie from the late 1920s with DeSylva, Brown and Henderson songs, her Cinderella dream comes true, making it all the more appropriate that she sing the best song in the film, "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All" not once, not twice, but three times, and always to stunning effect despite her weak and wavery vocal chords. She also manages to pull off a dandy vaudeville dance number in a street fair scene. Her leading man, Farrell, fares less well, though he transmits innocence and sincerity as well as a clear and melodious song delivery. Marjorie White and Frank Richardson contribute great supporting energy as pals of Gaynor.

Other outstanding songs are "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" and "Turn on the Heat," the latter a playfully erotic concept wherein Eskimo women are so sexy that they melt their icy surroundings, transforming them into steaming, and eventually flaming, tropics. It is the only big production number in the film, the others being focused on one or two performers in medium close-up.
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Don't believe the bad press...
silent-1227 November 1999
When I purchased this movie, I expected it to be a dud, from all the bad press it has received. But it is actually very funny, entertaining, and charming. I especially liked Bea's character, and the motorcycle chase at the end was hilarious. I also thought that Charles Farrell did an excellent job his Cape Cod accent fits this character perfectly. It's great!
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Forget your fear of 1920s musicals
ChorusGirl24 December 2010
Did Busby Berkeley view this film before making THE GANG'S ALL HERE (also at Fox)? The "water curtain" effect is exactly the same...the production number is also set on a Long Island estate...the heroine sings a sad solo number to the audience at the benefit...there are big inflated bananas. It's hard to imagine this wasn't at least an inspiration for his big Technicolor triumph.

SUNNY SIDE UP defies all the expectations you have of early sound's lively, well acted, funny and--get this--beautifully photographed. If you have only been exposed to pioneering musicals like THE Broadway MELODY, THE SINGING FOOL, and SHOW OF SHOWS, this will feel like it arrived from Mars. Time has been kind to Janet Gaynor, who had a marvelous range (see her in Murnau's SUNRISE) and was almost devoid of the usual affectations and Talkie mannerisms. She gives a beguiling performance here. And as an added bonus: one of the most insane of all pre-Code musical numbers.

The great reviews don't lie. See this!
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One of the First Film Musicals a "Classic"
jimnycla13 November 2010
This was the first talkie for Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor, who starred in numerous romantic silent films together. Their chemistry is wonderful. This film was also one of the first film musicals. The supporting cast is terrific and there's a fun cameo by little Jackie Coogan who recites a poem (or at least starts to recite). The "Turn Up The Heat" dance sequence is a hoot. Very pre-code sensual with chorines writhing on the floor and palm trees complete with bananas shooting erectly up out of the floor (the movie theater audience howled) . Saw this film today at The Museum of Modern Art here in NYC as part of their "To Save and Project" series. The film has been beautifully restored and future generations will now be able to see this "classic" pristine print. Thank You MOMA.
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"Ten Shows A Day And A Midnight Matinée"
bkoganbing21 December 2010
Sunnyside Up lays claim to the fact that it is the first original musical for the screen. It might very well be and if so deserves no small credit to the score that the Broadway team of DeSylva,Brown&Henderson wrote for it.

It also was the talking debut of the Fox screen team of Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor. They do sound a bit arch for today's taste, but at this time nearly everyone on the screen sounded that way. There singing voices are pleasant, but nothing else. But the screen chemistry is unmistakable.

The plot is typical for a stage musical at the time involving a poor girl falling for a rich boy. Farrell is the society kid who almost runs down a kid in Gaynor's neighborhood in the city. She takes him and he gets the bright idea to bring her out to Southampton to make his prospective fiancé Sharon Lynn jealous. But it all works too well as Gaynor goes for Farrell big time.

The thin plot is just an excuse to hang several musical numbers at the society party in the Hamptons and at a block party in the city which was the case for stage films. As Sunnyside Up was written directly for the screen, they didn't have to rewrite it to disguise any stage origins. Although Gaynor and to a lesser degree Farrell do their numbers most of the singing and dancing is taken up by Sharon Lynn and friends of Gaynor, Marjorie White and Frank Richardson.

The two best known songs I'm A Dreamer Aren't We All and If I Had A Talking Picture Of You were a couple early records that Bing Crosby did with the Paul Whiteman band. They are probably the best known recordings from this score.

Sunnyside Up still retains a lot of the charm it had even if its overacted for today's audience taste.
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An entertaining movie for all ages to enjoy!
msladysoul1 September 2005
This movie is so entertaining. Janet Gaynor is sweet but doesn't make you sick. She does some great dancing, funny thing is she does some moves you would see Fred Astaire do but he wasn't even in the movies when this movie came out, so I guess it's true when they say nothing is really new, someone has done it before. I didn't even know Janet could dance and sing. I can see why she was considered America's sweetheart and the personification of an young American girl, many felt she was a positive role model and introduce a new image unlike wild Clara Bow. Marjorie White, she has yet to disappoint me in any performance she gives. She steals just about every scene she's in but the whole cast holds their own. Marjorie was a great comedienne and so pretty. She was the first musical comedy star in my eyes. I wish more spotlight is put on her and her films. She's as better or up there with Carole Lombard, Patsy Kelly, Lucille Ball, and Thelma Todd. Marjorie is a natural. She died young and tragically in 1935. This is a nice little movie, Hollywood don't do movies like these anymore, innocent but not saint and it's so entertaining and charming. Like the other reviewer I thought it be a dud to. Just about all the stars of the movie sing and dance to sweet songs. Sharon Lynn sings a sweet song. Frank Richardson is a riot. Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor were the top screen couple in the early 1930's. Farrell couldn't seem to get out of that shadow. Movie fans always wanted to see them together, it was a hard for either to break and do other things. This is a nice movie to enjoy with your family, it's a change from what we see on TV today. Oh another thing to point out is I think Marjorie White was the first to say a curse word in a major movie. She said "hell" It's not really bad but it had my jaw drop because I never heard any stars say that in early movies, its such an innocent time, of course I wouldn't be shock by it today, people use worser words then that but it was funny and cute coming from cutie pie Marjorie White.
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A winning early musical
daneldorado1 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Sunny Side Up" (Fox, 1929) has its heart in the right place. It teams silent screen romantic stars Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, and asks them to sing for their supper this time. Farrell is no Sinatra, and Miss Gaynor is no Doris Day... but they can both carry a tune, and their charm takes us the rest of the way.

Miss Gaynor plays Molly, a working girl who lives in a New York tenement, but always has her "sunny side up." She's a smiler. And she never smiles more prettily than when she sees a newspaper photo of her idol, handsome Long Island millionaire Jack Cromwell (Farrell). She tears his photo out of the paper and keeps it.

Fate brings these two polar opposites together, and they click, but for different reasons. Cromwell invites Molly to his estate to make his girlfriend jealous -- and she goes, properly chaperoned by her gal pal, Bea, and two male friends; but Molly goes because she has fallen for Jack and incorrectly believes he loves her too.

Of course the two get together at the end, after a lot of singing and dancing, and the usual romantic mixups are accounted for and straightened out.

There's a big-scale production number involved, in which dozens of girls, led by Sharon Lynn, dance and sing "Turn on the Heat." It opens with all the girls in an arctic setting, wearing heavy parkas and eskimo boots; but, as the weather heats up and their igloos melt, they shed their outer clothes and wind up in bathing suits, basking in a tropical paradise complete with palm trees and coconuts.

The music and story of "Sunny Side Up" were written by the formidable trio of Lew Brown, Buddy DeSylva, and Ray Henderson. Songs include the title tune, plus "I'm a Dreamer (Aren't we All?)", and the now standard "If I Had a Talking Picture of You."

Dan Navarro (
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Janet Gaynor is Just Glorious and Radiant!!!
kidboots17 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Sunny Side Up" was the first full length talkie to feature "America's Favourite Sweerhearts" - Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell - and Fox spared no expense, hiring top song writers Da Sylva, Brown and Henderson. Although Gaynor and Farrell had already appeared in a couple of movies with talking sequences, rumours abounded that their voices were inadequate. Even though in "Sunny Side Up" some critics scoffed that they couldn't tell their singing voices apart, to me that made them all the more charming. Fox also surrounded them with the top supporting players from their roster. Critics raved about 4'10" Marjorie White who was a cute Broadway comedienne and would brighten up many movies until her untimely death in 1935. El Brendel was Fox's resident "Swede" comedienne, who was extremely popular back in the days.

This movie depicts the poor as being energetic and happy with their lot - "I wonder what the poor are doing tonight" ponders Molly, which brings roars of laughter from her friends, who are sitting down to a "feast" of bread and beer. The rich are shown to be gossipy, two faced and mired in convention.

The film opens with a stunning crane shot that pans the camera over different families in the tenement where Molly (Janet Gaynor) and her peppy pal Bee (Marjorie White) live. Molly dreams of one day meeting her Prince Charming and she already has him picked out - he is high society guy, John Cromwell (Charles Farrell). She even sings a song to express her feelings - "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All" in a sweet, plaintive and wholly captivating voice, while accompanying herself on the zither. As she looks at the camera she makes you believe. Meanwhile the real Johnny is celebrating with his fiancée, Jane (Sharon Lyn) at Long Island - she sings "You Find the Time, I'll Find the Place". Jane is not going to let her marriage cramp her flirting style and John, despondent, wants to find an old fashioned girl. He drives off in a huff and after almost running down a small child, wanders forlornly into Molly's flat - who thinks all her dreams have come true.

The big event is the block party where the first song is a novelty number, "You've Got Me Pickin' Petals Off Daisies", sung by Bee and her boyfriend (a singer in the Al Jolson tradition, who is sometimes hard to take). Jackie Cooper has a bit part as a tenement kid trying to recite "The Village Blacksmith". Molly is the star attraction with the rousing "Sunny Side Up" - she does a little dance and gets everyone to join in. John thinks she is pretty swell too and wants Molly to come down to Long Island and sing in a charity show.

He passes Molly off as a visitor from Detroit society and initially the ruse works but a chance remark about "paying the rent" and word soon spreads that Molly is John's "kept" woman. The charity show starts off with the fabulous "Turn On the Heat" number. Sharon Lyn, dressed as a cute Eskimo, sings about "heating up poppa or poppa will freeze" and also about being his "little radiator". For 1929 it was really spectacular - the Northern lights flash, cuties come out of igloos, suggestively dancing so the igloos melt, their fur coats disappear, revealing scanty costumes and turning the North Pole into a volcanic island that blazes into fire, forcing the girls to jump into the water. Truly stupendous.

After that the love ballad "If I Had a Talking Picture of You", is a bit anti climatic, but Molly looks beautiful and it is also sung by a group of small children dressed as brides and grooms - one little groom even pepped it up with a boop, boop a doo chorus. The rest of the movie is filled with mistaken feelings as Molly flees back to the East Side after fearing she was made a fool of. This movie is full of magical moments ie when John is gazing at Molly's photo, which then comes to life and tells him that "You've Got Me Pickin' Petals Off Daisies"!!!

Highly, Highly Recommended.
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More than meets the eye!
david-197621 December 2010
This is a movie that justifies whatever expensive restoration is required. It has a great score, and an interesting cast. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell had developed a certain cachet during the silent era as "America's Favorite Lovebirds," and indeed they are charming, almost like the leads in a high school musical. Gaynor, of course, continued to be formidable for a number of years, but Farrell's career took a long hiatus--even though it ended up with his popular series about "Charlie Farrell's Racquet Club" in early TV.

The important thing about this film is that it is a precursor to many other interesting works that emerged over the next twenty years. It has a number of production numbers that must have been inspired by Billy Rose's extravaganzas, and which foreshadow the "aquacades" that Rose produced during the 1930's, culminating in the spectacular shows of the 1939 world's fair. The water curtain used in the Southampton charity show is surely something that we will see later. I think that Fox and Busby Berkeley derived a certain amount of inspiration from this film in creating the psychedelic "The Gang's All Here!" during WWII.

In spite of what others may say, the most important number in the score is the title: "Sunny Side Up" which was a popular sing-along number in community gatherings through the mid- 1960's. As a former Cub Scout, I don't remember singing "If I Had A Talking Picture of You" or "I'm a Dreamer", but I still know all the words to "Sunny Side Up." The burden of the song was also an important depression-era anthem, and David Butler's opening sequence, with the poor children dancing under a fire-hydrant fountain, moving to a cop-umpired baseball game, to a bird's eye view of apartment life in New York City's tenements, is certainly a precursor to Hitchcock's exploration of a Greenwich Village neighborhood in "Rear Window."

It must have been exhilarating to be inventing cinema in Hollywood in the early sound era. Gaynor and Farrell couldn't last as a romantic couple, not with those reedy voices, but at the same time they earned an honest day's pay. Marjorie White and Frank Richardson gave a convincing portrait of vaudeville as it was in the 1920's, and the show's big production number, "Turn on the Heat," was worthy of late Busby Berkeley, with Eskimo women melting their igloos, shedding their parkas for bikinis, and generating heat enough to spawn palm trees and finally flame out of the very earth. El Brendel's appearance as a dialect comedian is also an artifact of early 20th century American humor, one that resounds through the 1950's.

With early appearances by Jackie Cooper (NOT Coogan!) and (I think) Shirley Temple in an appearance so short as to be almost subliminal--I'll have to watch a couple more times-- this film incorporates early cinema magic, a certain preservation of some vaudeville precursors (these persisted through television of them 1960's) and a lot of the future of cinema. It's definitely worth watching!
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A Talking Picture for Janet Gaynor & Charles Farrell
wes-connors16 March 2011
During a hot New York City Fourth of July, poor but bubbly Janet Gaynor (as Molly Carr) plots to meet wavy-haired millionaire Charles Farrell (as Jack Cromwell), then accompanies him to high-browed Southampton. Though recorded primitively, Ms. Gaynor and Mr. Farrell made beautiful box office music together in their first all-talking, part-singing motion picture. Several of the songs crowded themselves into Hit Parades, by several recording acts; "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" (#5), "Aren't We All" (#6), "Turn on the Heat" (#7), and "Sunny Side Up" (#9) led the pack.

Note, the film squeaks and creaks. Everyone seems to have been the victim of some high-pitched sound recording, though the studio may have wanted their stars to sound like juvenile tenors. Perhaps modern technology will some day restore everyone to some deeper tones. While sometimes tedious, this was all very new and original in 1929. The opening street sequence is excellent and a few of the songs are cute. Watch for Jackie Cooper as the boy who has to go to the bathroom. Gaynor and Farrell were a charming and popular pair, and even more so after "Sunnyside Up" was released.

****** Sunnyside Up (10/3/29) David Butler ~ Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Marjorie White, Ed Brendel
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Sunnyside Up has some bright moments.
st-shot27 December 2010
This is the first sound picture for the popular silent romantic team Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell and the result is a split decision. Gaynor is no Ruth Etting but she does have a sweet appeal that allows her to triumph with Betty Boop cutesy and a pedestrian falsetto. Farrell? Well they do make a good looking couple.

Molly (Gaynor) and Bea (Marjorie White) live a meager but merry existence above a market in congested lower Manhattan. Out on the far reaches of Long Island in the Hamptons poor little rich boy Jack Cromwell broods over his flirtatious intended. At a party for well heeled swells he gets drunk and goes slumming and crashes his car in Molly's neighborhood. To get his fiancé jealous he moves Molly and her pals into a mansion next door. Secretly in love Jack, Molly reluctantly goes along with the ruse.

For an early sound work Sunnyside Up does a fine job of capturing large as well as small action with decent clarity. There's an excellently tracked and recorded scene establishing the lower east side melting pot and Gaynor's warbling of "I'm a Dreamer" live is an early highlight of the technology.

While Gaynor has a passable voice Farrell is reduced to being arm candy leaving the funny moments to Elf Brendel and Marjorie White's ball of energy Bea. The plot is improbable like most musicals but it's worth putting up with to hear a rendition or two of Sunnyside Up and If I Had a Talking Picture of You.
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Typical early talkin' movie
MarioB19 August 2000
Charles Farrell was surely a good partner for Janet Gaynor in the silent era, but here, we see that the guy is really a very bad actor! This film had also one of the worst musical number of the Hollywood history (near the end, with the fountains...) And it's typical of the early talkin' films : it talks! Talks! It makes a lot of sound and shows nothing! Well... you might think I hate this film? Not really. It had charm, very honest intentions, and it keeps us smiling. Miss Gaynor is absolutely wonderful of youth, freshness, and she's so lovely!!! The three songs she sangs are wondeful too, especially I'm a Dreamer. Get me a time machine and I want to go back in 1929 to marry Janet Gaynor!
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Wish I could see this film
twokeets21 June 2007
I wish I could see this flick! Apparently my grandfather took his family, including my mom who was a little kid, to see this movie more than once in their small town. This was in rural Mississippi in the early '30's, when money was not growing on trees. Granddad was, I THOUGHT, a thrifty Scottish, no nonsense kind of guy. But he was nonetheless very impressed with the "acting" skills of Janet Gaynor. My mother also remembered one scene in particular where Miss Gaynor appears in a slip, which must have seemed a little spicy back in the day. In honor of Granddad, I'd love to purchase Sunny Side Up, but unfortunately it appears to be unavailable in any format.
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A neglected masterpiece!
JohnHowardReid22 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Producers: Buddy G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, Ray Henderson. Songs by Buddy G. DeSylva, Lew Brown, Ray Henderson: "Sunny Side Up" (Gaynor, White, Richardson, Brendel and chorus); "I'm a Dreamer" (Gaynor); "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" (Gaynor, Farrell and children); "Turn on the Heat" (Lynn and female chorus); "You've Got Me Pickin' Petals Off o' Daisies" (White and Richardson); "You Find the Time, I'll Find the Place" (Lynn); "It's Great To Be Necked" (White). Other songs: "Just a Song at Twilight"; "Red, White and Blue". Music director: Howard Jackson. Associate music director: Arthur Kay. Dances staged by Seymour Felix.

Copyright 8 October 1929 by Fox Film Corporation. New York opening at the Gaiety: 3 October 1929. U.S. release: 13 December 1929. 13 reels. 133 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Rich boy falls for poor girl.

NOTES: 100% talkie debuts for both Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Possible movie debut of Marjorie White. (The other contender is "Happy Days". Which movie came first is a good question. Both were in production at the same time).

Although Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times accorded "Sunny Side Up" (sic) a rave review, the movie did not figure on his Top Ten of the year. However, he did place it in his Supplementary List.

COMMENT: At least I don't have to go to bat for Sunny Side Up. Everyone loves this movie. And rightly so! Indeed, some critics can't understand how a "dud" like "Broadway Melody" won awards right and left, and this gem was simply passed over. But that's Hollywood!

In "The Best Things In Life Are Free" a great deal of the plot hinges on DeSylva's solo career at Paramount, but the joint movie efforts of the trio are not so much as mentioned, even though this wonderful movie, for instance, incorporates some of their best songs into its charmer of a rich-boy-falls-for-poor-girl plot. Not only are the tunes rich in lyrics and melody, but many are produced on a lavish scale that would send Busby Berkeley green with envy.

It's hard to believe the movie runs 133 minutes. Whilst watching the story unfold, it seems more like eighty! Resourceful director David Butler sets the tone right from the opening credits with a sweepingly elaborate dolly shot that just takes my breath away. Other highlights range from the staggering "Turn on the Heat" production number to the small scale "I'm a Dreamer" which cute Janet Gaynor introduces in her two-room tenement apartment whilst accompanying herself on the zither.

Miss Gaynor is perfectly cast, managing the dress-and-poise transformation from East Side to Southampton with ease. Mr. Farrell plays the doesn't-know-what's-good-for-him youth with grace and conviction. Outstanding support is provided by Marjorie White, Frank Richardson and Sharon Lynn.

Production values are out of this world.
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How can you not like a film with palm trees as phallic symbols?
AlsExGal26 December 2010
I'm talking about a musical number that appears in the last quarter of the film in which scantily clad girls dance and turn an arctic scene into a tropical one with palm and banana trees popping up out of the ground in response. Only in the precode era! This film is thoroughly enchanting from start to finish, mainly because of the innocent charm of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell as a screen couple as they make their talkie debut here after a string of silent successes.

The film opens in what is supposed to be a tenement section of New York City on July 4, but as the camera pans from flat to flat, it seems more like a portrait of Norman Rockwell's America, just more densely populated. Molly (Janet Gaynor) and Bea (Marjorie White) share an apartment here, and Molly sees a newspaper picture of her dream man - wealthy Jack Cromwell (Charles Farrell). He's not her dream man because of the money, instead she likes his looks. Fate would have it that a car accident brings young Jack up her tenement stairway and into her apartment that very night - he was directed by neighborhood grocer Eric Swenson to Eric's apartment, but in his shaken up state after the accident Jack wanders into Molly's by mistake. Jack and Molly's first meeting isn't exactly the stuff of dreams. She is in her underwear with cold cream on her face, he's bleeding from a cut on his head from the accident. But no worry, things go uphill quickly from here.

After watching the neighborhood put on performances for the July 4 block party, Jack decides the whole gang should come to his family estate and help out with a show his mother is putting on for charity. However, Jack's mom is the type that can detect the musk of Mayflower or the lack thereof a mile away and they'll have to disguise everyone's identity in order for them to pass inspection and be able to perform. Add to that the complication that Jack already has a débutante girlfriend. Also add that good guy grocer Eric (El Brendel) wants his relationship with Molly to be more than that of just good friends.

Most early musicals or musical numbers from Fox were boring at worst and inane at best, but here they get it right. The songs and their delivery are memorable, interesting, and unique for the era. I highly recommend this as a feel good film and one of the truly good early talkie musicals.
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Notable and nonsensical
LeonardKniffel28 September 2019
Notable for its ridiculous musical number "Turn On the Heat," this film also serves as a great example of the talents and appeal of Janet Gaynor, one of the most popular and versatile actresses of her time, who retired from films in 1938 at the age of 32. She sings the title tune, which became a real anthem of optimism during the Great Depression: "Keep your sunny side up, hide the side that gets blue." ---Musicals on the Silver Screen, American Library Association, 2013
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Still great entertainment after almost ninety years
markwood2725 June 2018
Saw this June 3, 2018. An early Hollywood movie musical from the Fox Film Corporation. It remains very entertaining in the 21st century, the earliest sound film I know of that is still engaging, believable, watchable. Sound technology has not frozen the camera or actors, and the movie makes the point with its opening overhead shot that (almost) could have been done with a drone. After nearly nine decades the songs are still pleasant to listen to. The plot offers few surprises, but the cast under David Butler's direction keeps it interesting, with Janet Gaynor at her Betty Boop-ish best. Film history enthusiasts will not be the only ones enjoying the two hours spent with "Sunny Side Up".
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Sunnyside Up is still quite a charming musical from the early talkie era
tavm8 October 2014
This was a movie I had first seen on VHS tape after recording this on that from the AMC Film Preservation Festival the network had during the '90s when the focus that week was on musicals. Just watched it again on YouTube. It was a pretty charming story of a tenement girl (Janet Gaynor) who ends up falling for a rich person (Charles Farrell). I'll stop there and just say that while what happens during the story is the stuff of clichés, the performances of them and the supporting cast was quite charming throughout and the songs and musical numbers were entertaining enough, even today. I read that part of the picture was originally in color. I'm guessing it was the "Turn on The Heat" number which had plenty of scantily clad women dancing up a storm. Also liked the funny turns by Marjorie White and El Brendel. And if you're an Our Gang fan, there's a cameo of a future member here-Jackie Cooper. So on that note, I recommend Sunnyside Up.
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Janet Gaynor sings!
jimjo12165 May 2011
Released in 1929, SUNNYSIDE UP is a fluffy musical from the early days of talking pictures. With Janet Gaynor, America's cinematic sweetheart, singing (and dancing) in one of her earliest sound films, this is an interesting curiosity.

A talented actress in silent films SEVENTH HEAVEN (1927) and STREET ANGEL (1928), Janet Gaynor's affecting performances won her the first- ever Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929. In SUNNYSIDE UP we finally hear her light Minnie Mouse voice, which seems to fit her innocent, childlike screen persona. Gaynor doesn't have a particularly strong voice, but she sings her way through a handful of tunes, even showing off some dance moves.

Gaynor's romantic partner in both SEVENTH HEAVEN and STREET ANGEL, Charles Farrell, re-teams with her here, displaying a surprisingly high and nasal speaking voice.

I think it's important to keep in mind when this film was made. Sound was still a novelty in movies, and singing even more so. I don't know what the critics said at the time, but it's actually not a bad movie. There are the understandable audio problems, but the performances are all fine in this cute little love story.

A poor New York City girl (Gaynor) meets the man of her dreams, a wealthy Long Island heir (Farrell), amid a Fourth of July celebration. The heir invites the girl and her friends to spend a short vacation with him on Long Island, where he hopes to make his wandering fiancée jealous while everyone prepares for a big charity carnival. The heir needs the city girl to act like she's in love, but he doesn't realize that her feelings are genuine.

Janet Gaynor can't help but be adorable. Her comic relief roommate, Marjorie White, has personality. The title song (like several of the other original tunes) is a simple ditty, but it will get in your head. "Turn On the Heat" is a pretty good production number, with an arctic igloo stage set evolving into a tropical hotspot. The movie starts with what seems to be a single camera shot that moves around the New York tenement neighborhood, looking into apartment windows and introducing the community where Janet Gaynor and her friends live.

Child actor extraordinaire Jackie Cooper makes a brief but memorable appearance.
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Filmed, apparently, with helium tanks all over the set!!!
MartinHafer6 February 2011
This is a really, really weird film. Although I've seen Janet Gaynor in quite a few sound films, here her voice in her first talking picture is just plain weird! Perhaps she later had voice lessons and that might account for some of it, but I think the primitive sound system they were using also worked to make Gaynor and the rest of the cast sound like they had been sucking in helium! In fact, Gaynor sounded almost exactly like Betty Boop! The movie also makes the mistake of trying way too hard to exploit the novelty of sound. Gaynor and co-star Charles Farrell were NOT known for their singing or dancing, and yet they jammed sounds into the film that just seemed out of place. What people loved about the Gaynor/Farrell films and why they made so many of them was because they were incredibly sweet and romantic--not because of the music! About 25 minutes into the film, another sequence was included that just seemed intended to show off the new medium of sound. Janet Gaynor, for no decent reason, begins play acting by herself in her apartment. It was very talky and went on and on. Then, about 38 minutes into the film, there is a seemingly impromptu talent show where there is singing and dancing. Why? I have absolutely no idea--and the film really seemed to lose its way and seemed more like a sound experiment than anything else--and clearly the previous silent pairings of Gaynor and Farrell were much better films.

The plot, though seemingly incidental to the film, concerns rich-guy Farrell and his lousy relationship with a society débutante. However, when you see him meet Gaynor you know exactly where the film is going. There really isn't much more to it than this, as the singing and other gimmicks ARE the film! Now I am sure some who love their films would disagree, but I think this is a pretty bad film--even compared to other 1929 films. Now I love Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell films--just not this one. I read through the other reviews and apparently I am in the distinct minority about this film.
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Unique but Certainly Worth Viewing
Michael_Elliott19 January 2011
Sunnyside Up (1929)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Early Fox talkie has Janet Gaynor playing Molly, a poor girl who lives with her friends in a poor neighborhood but at least she's happy. Jack (Charles Farrell), on the other hand, is rich and lives in a mansion but extremely unhappy because his fiancé won't leave other men alone. Soon Jack and Molly meet and the two decide to make the fiancé jealous but you know what happens. SUNNYSIDE UP was the first full musical to be made for the screen and over the past decade or so it has gathered more and more fans. It's easy to see why the film has gathered some publicity over the years even though it still suffers from many of the problems countless early talkies had. I'll start off with the negative and one is the running time. Clocking in at over two hours the storyline was pretty familiar with 1929 so don't expect any surprises. For the majority of the running time you sit there guessing what's going to happen next and it always does happen. I certainly don't mind the film being unoriginal but it would have helped to at least threw us a few twists along the way. Another problem and one that will probably get me jumped is the fact that Gaynor and Farrell weren't very good singers. I was really shocked to learn that this film was a hit because when I first heard Gaynor's voice I really thought there was something wrong with the soundtrack. It's extremely high-pitched and I couldn't believe that it went over so well with crowds back in the day while other actors with better voices were tosses to the side. Outside of that both Gaylor and Farrell are very good in their fourth of twelve films together. I thought their chemistry was right on the mark and you can't help but be charmed by their silly flirting. Gaynor really is happy-go-lucky and that charm comes flying off the screen. Mary Forbes, Marjorie White, El Brendel and Peter Gawthorne play the supports. The musical numbers are quite large and you can tell that some of them probably had an influence on Busby Berkeley. The songs are rather hit and miss but "If I Had a Talking Picture of You" is certainly one of the highlights of the film. The main highlight is a brilliant opening sequence where the camera appears to film the entire sequence in one shot. We start off with kids playing on the street and then the camera spins around to capture a lot of other action. It goes into stores before rising to view in on people inside their apartments. The camera will then go in and out of rooms as we get to see the life of the poor and this entire sequence is without question the greatest thing I've seen from any of these early talkies. The cinematography was downright breathtaking and even more impressive is how they use the soundtrack during all of this. Considering how poor most of these films always sound it's just shocking to see the technology used here. Originally there were a couple Technicolor scenes but sadly they've been lost to time. SUNNYSIDE UP suffers from familiar territory as well as a long running time but there's enough here to make it worth viewing.
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Why was end of film changed?
kevintdoherty23 December 2010
While I was excited that TCM finally played a Gaynor-Farrell Fox musical, I was dismayed that the film ended with an abrupt fade-to-black and a "The End" sign that was obviously not the original. It had "Western Electric System" on the bottom, when this was a Movietone film! Fox did not convert to Western Electric until late '30 or '31! The same thing was done at the end of "In Old Arizona", the first Movietone filmed outdoors. Both films then follow with the main song (in this case "I'm a Dreamer") sung to a blank screen. It was black film, since you could see white wear spots.

Did Fox restore this film or an independent lab? What happened to the original Fox "The End" title card? Also, Movietone was not mentioned in the opening credits--did Fox not list it the way Warner Brothers displayed Vitaphone on their talkies?
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Primitive musical starring non-musical talent of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell...
Doylenf16 March 2011
I can't believe the reviews referring to this as a charming musical wonderfully sung by JANET GAYNOR and CHARLES FARRELL.

It's possibly the worst attempt at setting music and dance to film that I've ever seen. And on top of a clumsy script, it has EL BRENDEL for comic relief when the whole film is so bad it's hilarious to watch.

You have to have a truly tin ear for music to appreciate what Gaynor and Farrell do to the music. Indeed, their talking voices are so badly recorded that it's a wonder sound movies survived the talkies.

David Butler, the genial director of many a later musical film, fails to bring the musical interludes to life. Of course, part of the fault lies in the tinny soundtrack, but the songs are nothing memorable.

Farrell is a handsome young leading man here but obviously short on talent of any kind. He sounds as though he's reading a script for the first time--and incidentally, Gaynor too is pitifully inadequate both as a singer and an actress. No wonder this film has slipped into such obscurity.

The clichés are endless in the boy meets girl/boy loses girl sort of thing that goes on for an endless running time. The print shown on TCM had a soundtrack muffled by a noisy background obviously unrestored. At any rate, Gaynor sounds like Minnie Mouse most of the time and Farrell's high pitched voice gets no help from the early sound equipment.

Very poor film, worthwhile only as a laughable curiosity.
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