Frank Sinatra’s first movie was Higher and Higher. Produced in 1943 and directed by Tim Whelan, the musical was slightly based on the Broadway musical by Gladys Hurlbut and Joshua Logan. Nevertheless, if you knew the Broadway musical and saw the movie, you would not see any similarities. The only thread of the Broadway production is the one song “Disgustingly Rich”.
Sinatra, of course, is amazingly good, launching his 40-film career, written in at the last moment, playing himself as the handsome neighbor to Mr. Drake. Turner Classic Movies reports that Higher and Higher is Sinatra’s first feature movie. I can’t help but wonder if he was in some prior movies where he is uncredited. A celebrated singer so early in his career one can’t help but wonder if he made an uncredited appearance or two as himself before Whelan’s movie.
Higher and Higher didn’t go unnoticed either. The celebrated movie was nominated by the Academy for Best music, original score and “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night” (croon by Sinatra) and Best Music, Scoring a musical Picture.
Jack Haley, Leon Errol, Michele Morgan, Barbara Hale, Victor Borge and Mel Torme star with Sinatra. According to AllMovie the famed singer, as mentioned earlier, was a last minute addition to the film. Haley, who played in the original Broadway production, plays the head servant, Mike, in the household of millionaire Mr. Drake (Errol). When Drake comes to terms with bankruptcy, Mike rallies the servants together and brainstorms a moneymaking plan. To pass off pretty kitchen maid Millie (Morgan) as Drake’s daughter, and marry her off to a wealthy bachelor.
Easier said than done when Sir Bictor Fitzroy Victor (Borge), an impoverished nobleman, who is also looking for a rich wife, adds hilarious mayhem and tuneful plot twists to the movie. Mike saves the day with a last-minute discovery in the wine cellar. Involving Millie, heiress Katherine (Hale), and hired help Mickey (McGuire) and Marty (Mel Torme) the movie was a box office success.
The film is definitely a family affair that you can share with anyone.