Before there was the Vegas we know now - the towering hotels on the strip, the Rat-Pack swank - there was old, old vegas. Even in the 40s, it was sin city:

 

 

 

Yes, a frontier town. The Old West. A place where you can still see a singing cowboy trotting down the underlit street:

 

 

And moseying the boys up to the bar still seated on your horses.

 

 

That's about all the old Vegas the movie provides, alas. It's a formula B-musical - today it would be Step Up 3, with lots of scowling and pointing and desperate dancers who will risk it all on one performance, and make it despite all the odds, et cetera. Back then it meant: round up some popular acts, string together 50 minutes worth of expository dialogue, find a comic to appear in every third scene, give some lanky galoot a moon-june-spoon scene with the prettiest girls, and call it a picture. The music is provided by Tommy Dorsey, who kicks it off with the ever-entrancing "Song of India." How I love this number.

 

 

Some other guy shows up in another musical number; don't know what happened to him. He makes an appearance at 00:35.

 

 

This fellow gave a jolt to the movie whenever the camera caught him beating the tubs:

 

 

I remember him from the Tonight Show. He was the Derek Flint of drummers.

 

 

Now and then you'll get some suggestions of the way it used to be, with crude animatronic gaming machines that belched coins from a cornucopia:

 

 

But the real pleasures come from the songs. This was MTV of the day, you know. An appearance by moon-faced cutie Connie Haines. Real name: Yvonne Marie Antoinette JaMais. This was her first movie; she was 20.

 

 

She died in 2008 at the age of 87.

 

 

Then there's this guy. Bert Wheeler. Completely forgotten today, but in '41 he would have been familiar. Wheeler & Woolsey were an immensely popular comic duo in the early 30s, with some of their better movies direected by Mark Sandrich. If that name sounds famliar, it's because his son, Jay, became a famous comedy director himself, working on"Mary Tyler Moore" and "Get Smart" and may others.

By the time this movie was out, Woolsey had been dead a few years, and Wheeler was making the Bs. In this scene he's trying to impress someone by telling him he used to know Dorsey. He does not know that the person he's talking to is Dorsey.

This clip is presented as a reminder that when soundtracks get old and muffled, you hear all sorts of things that aren't there at all. Try not to think of Joe Pesci.

 

 

It's a piece of slang for a dollar; used as a verb, it means to mooch. Or so it seems. There's nothing about the routine that's particularly funny, and probably relied on everyone thinking Oh, that's Bert. He's funny. So this must be funny. It isn't now, but it used to be.

You could say that about Vegas, too.