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Down to Earth (1947)

Remakes can be a bone of some contention for many film fans. The classic cineaste take on this is that remakes are automatically inferior — a point worth conceding since there are so few exceptions — and these recent remakes are usually disgraces to the memories of the initial version. But though remaking may seem a creative dead end, Hollywood has been recycling what works so many times that a wave of remakes is simply par for the course. From the early days of motion pictures, stories have been reconfigured again and again if they work, sometimes line for line. It's just in the past what would happen — more often than not — was that a successful effort would be transposed to a different genre, usually a western or musical (think High Society). Such is the case with Alexander Hall's remake-cum-sequel-cum-musical Down to Earth (1947). It was born of the success of 1941's Here Comes Mr. Jordan (which was later remade in 1978 as Heaven Can Wait), which Hall also directed. Here Rita Hayworth stars as Greek muse Terpsichore, who feels insulted by playwright Danny Miller (Larry Parks) because his new play portrays the muses (specifically her) in an unflattering light, so she goes to Mr. Jordan (Roland Culver, filling in for Claude Rains) and messenger 7013 (the returning Edward Everett Horton) to get down to Earth and in Miller's play. Terpsichore succeeds at impressing everyone involved (after all, she is the muse of theater and dance), and wishes to change the play to make it more flattering to her and her kin. But what she doesn't know is that if the play flops, Danny will be murdered, and her changes take the fun out of it. And what would the movie be if Danny and Terpsichore — who renames herself Kitty Pendleton (Pendelton was the main character in Jordan) and gets Pendleton's old Boxing agent Max Corkle (James Gleason, also returning) as her theatrical agent — didn't fall in love? The film presents itself as a semi-sequel to Jordan by having some returning characters, but it mostly just follows the formula of the first and inserts musical numbers. A piffle, the appeal of Down to Earth is in seeing Hayworth's gams in action during the musical sequences, of which she has a few — though the music is not as enduring as her grace. Larry Parks was his generation's Ralph Bellamy, and adds little charm or stature to the project, but with able support from Gleason, Horton, and Culver, and lowered expectations the film is a modest pleasure — much like most remakes. Columbia TriStar presents the film in its original academy ratio (1.33:1) and in 2.0 monaural sound. Extras consist of three trailers for Hayworth's other work. Keep-case.
—DSH



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