Sunny Side Up (1929 film)

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Sunny Side Up
Poster of the movie Sunny Side Up.jpg
Directed byDavid Butler
Written byB. G. DeSylva
Lew Brown
Ray Henderson
Produced byWilliam Fox
StarringJanet Gaynor
Charles Farrell
CinematographyErnest Palmer
John Schmitz
Edited byIrene Morra
Music byB. G. DeSylva
Lew Brown
Ray Henderson
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release dates
  • October 3, 1929 (1929-10-03) (New York City, premiere)
  • December 29, 1929 (1929-12-29) (US)
Running time
121 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.19 million (U.S. and Canada rentals)[1]

Sunny Side Up (stylized on-screen as Sunnyside Up) is a 1929 American pre-Code Fox Movietone musical film starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, with original songs, story, and dialogue by B. G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson. The romantic comedy/musical premiered on October 3, 1929, at the Gaiety Theatre in New York City.[2] The film was directed by David Butler, had (now-lost) Multicolor sequences, and a running time of 121 minutes.


The film centres around a Will-they won't-they romance. Wealthy Jack Cromwell from Long Island runs off to New York City on account of his fiancee's relentless flirting. He attends an Independence Day block party where Molly Carr, from Yorkville, Manhattan, falls in love with him. Comic relief is provided by grocer Eric Swenson, above whose shop Molly and her flatmate, Bea Nichols, live.[2][3] Gaynor performs a charming singing and dancing version of the song "(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up" for a crowd of her neighbors, complete with top hat and cane. Later in the film, a lavish pre-Code dance sequence for the song "Turn on the Heat", including scantily clad and gyrating island women enticing bananas on trees to abruptly grow and stiffen, with the graphic metaphor lost on no one, occurs without Gaynor's participation.[4]



The Times and The New York Times both express the opinion that the film, and the singing voices of Gaynor and Farrell, are all tolerable if not exactly worthy of praise. Despite the sugary sentimentality, the film is engaging, while the cinematography and special effects are impressive.[2][3]

Footage from Sunny Side Up was included in the comedy film It Came from Hollywood, which parodied B movies.[5]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


"I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?"[edit]

Several times throughout the film Gaynor sings the tune "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?" and, on one occasion, sings it impressively, according to the New York Times.[2] The credits are: words, De Sylva & Brown; music, Ray Henderson.

The song was punned by the Marx Brothers in the film Animal Crackers (1930). Groucho asks his brother to "play the song about Montreal". Chico asks, "Montreal?, and Groucho replies, "I'm a dreamer, Montreal." The pun has been much-recycled [7] not least in Stewart Parker's award-winning play I’m a Dreamer, Montreal.

Sunny Side Up ad in The Film Daily, 1929

An early popular recording was by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra on October 16, 1929 with a vocal group including Bing Crosby[8] and this reached the charts in 1929.[9] The tune was also recorded by John Coltrane in 1958 [10] and included on his album Bahia (1964).

"Turn on the Heat"[edit]

In addition to appearing in the Sunny Side Up, "Turn on the Heat" was recorded as a solo stride piano piece by Fats Waller in 1929, and this recording has been reissued numerous times. The song was also used in the 1933 Pooch the Pup cartoon Hot and Cold.[11]

"(Keep Your) Sunny Side Up"[edit]

Another song in the film that would later be used as the theme song to the 1988 British sitcom Clarence.

In the 1950s, the song was used as the theme song for Sunnyside Up, a variety program produced by HSV-7 (a television station in Melbourne, Australia). The song's melody was later adapted by the Essendon Football Club for its club song, "See the Bombers Fly Up", written by Kevin Andrews in 1959.[12]

A 1929 recording of the song by Johnny Hamp's Kentucky Serenaders plays during the closing credits of the 1973 film Paper Moon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cohn, Lawrence (October 15, 1990). "All Time Film Rental Champs". Variety. p. M-152. ISSN 0042-2738.
  2. ^ a b c d NY Times October 4, 1929 Movie Review
  3. ^ a b The Times, December 30, 1929, New Gallery Cinema "Sunny Side Up"
  4. ^ Green, Stanley (1999) Hollywood Musicals Year by Year (2nd ed.), pub. Hal Leonard Corporation ISBN 0-634-00765-3
  5. ^ "Collage of 10 worst films now a movie of its own", Lodi News-Sentinel, November 25, 1982. (p.8).
  6. ^ "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  7. ^ Glenn Mitchell, The Marx Brothers encyclopedia (Reynolds & Hearn, 2003) ISBN 1-903111-49-8
  8. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 452. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  10. ^ The Complete Prestige Recordings
  11. ^ "The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia: 1933". The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  12. ^ Davies, Bridget (April 19, 2016). "History behind every AFL club theme song". Herald Sun.

External links[edit]