Reaching for the Moon. 1930. USA. Directed by Edmund Goulding. Screenplay by Goulding. Story by Irving Berlin. With Bebe Daniels, Douglas Fairbanks, Edward Everett Horton. 35mm. 89 min.
Bebe Daniels, a charming, popular star in silent movies, had no problem transitioning to talkies. Not only could she talk, she could sing, as she proved in 1929’s smash hit Rio Rita. The problem for Daniels, just one year later, was not of her making: Hollywood had flooded the market with musicals, and in a typical snapback, the studios now decided nobody wanted them. Virtually all of Irving Berlin’s songs were cut from Reaching for the Moon, save the one given to a newcomer named Bing Crosby. The song-stripped Reaching for the Moon remains an appealing proto-screwball set on an eye-popping Art Deco ocean liner. The movie failed to duplicate the success of Rio Rita, and Daniels’s contract was not renewed. She was soon signed by the cannier Warner Bros., however, and had one more great musical ahead of her, a supporting role in 42nd Street. Daniels made her last American movie in 1935.