Bebe Daniels is Diane De Valle, aging, difficult movie star, who flops on a vaudeville tour, but is still received like royalty upon returning to Hollywood. Alice Faye is Peggy Harper, a popular up-and-comer who, along with acrobatic Peanuts and Eddie Harper (Frank Mitchell and Jack Durant), work the same show as De Valle's opening act. Peggy's boyfriend, Jack Lambert (Ray Walker), emcees the stage act and puts a bee in Peggy's bonnet about making it in Hollywood.
Jack's plot to put over Peggy to studio exec Ben Pomeroy (Andrew Tombes) at a restaurant fails miserably, but Pomeroy winds up impressed by Peanuts and Eddie's zany "Tarzan and Tarzan" act and signs them to a deal. The boys land Peggy a spot in the chorus of the movie they'll be appearing in, Music Is Magic—starring Diane De Valle. Diane's temperament gives Jack, now a food service worker, opportunity to explode onto the set and provide Peggy with her big chance.
This is the first I've seen of Mitchell and Durant and, like many '30s comedy acts, they did nothing for me. That said, I once thought The Yacht Club Boys the strangest thing I'd ever seen and now I get excited whenever I see them billed. These boys were a bit obnoxious to my tastes, but I'll keep an open mind next time they pop up.
Alice Faye is top billed and stars in the Busby Berkeley-lite number at the climax, when she sings the title song. This is still early for Alice, after her two George White's Scandals titles, but before her attention-grabbing turn alongside Shirley Temple in Poor Little Rich Girl (1936). She's closer to the star we love than the Harlow knock-off Fox first tried to make out of her, but despite the build-up, the big scenes, and the handful of songs, it's co-star Bebe Daniels who makes Music Is Magic worthwhile.
It's hard not to think of her Diane De Valle as a continuation of Daniels' story as Dorothy Brock in 42nd Street (1933). Daniels has every bit as much attitude here, yet her character is more likeable, even if we're supposed to be rooting against her. In spoofing the temperamental Hollywood diva, Daniels doesn't make De Valle a complete cartoon, she provides extra dimension through little wisecracking asides and well-thought plots that show she has brains enough to get her way on her terms. Her comeuppance at the end allows us to fully embrace her character the way we've wanted to throughout Music Is Magic.
Never available on home video, as of this writing the FindOldMovies search engine does offer copies from a couple of sources.