Sinatra Out Of The Gate
Step Lively (1944) Is RKO Encore for "The Voice"
RKO in the 30's spent heavily ($255K) to acquire Broadway's hit play, Room Service, then lost money customizing it for the Marx Brothers. There was still the property, at least, to remake as background to song sensation Frank Sinatra, Step Lively an early credit. The play was keyed to run/shout tempo, so success rides upon one's own threshold for that, but songs are good, several to become Sinatra standards. Audiences came to see FS, other cast members just noise between his tuning, their fate not unlike that of performers on Ed Sullivan before and after The Beatles came on. There was trade report of fans tearing down balcony rails in swoon over Sinatra, so management might have wished for less of him and more of co-stars George Murphy and borrowed-from-Metro Gloria DeHaven. RKO used Step Lively to feature a comic duo, Alan Carney and Wally Brown, stars of low-budgeters the company hoped would unseat Abbott and Costello (they didn't). Sinatra's was a gentle presence, the speaking voice a little high, timid around girls, an ideal non-threat for femme fans. Frank's would prove the ideal template for moving teen idol merchandise past parental concern over sex shorthand his songs conveyed, the joke being that 4-F FS was too scrawny to prey upon innocence (wartime cartoons kidded his image mercilessly along these lines). Step Lively has played Warner Instant Archive in vivid HD.