Plot & Details
Cole Porter's musical hit Panama Hattie originally starred Ethel Merman on Broadway. But Merman was not a proven movie commodity, thus it was Ann Sothern who appeared in the film version as Hattie, brassy but golden-hearted proprietress of a Canal Zone hotel. Accustomed to dealing with such raucous cohorts as she-sick sailors Red (Red Skelton), Rags (Rags Ragland) and Rowdy (Ben Blue), Hattie isn't quite certain how to handle herself when she falls in love with wealthy and cultured Dick Bulliett (Dan Dailey Jr.) Socialite Leila Tree (Marsha Hunt), who'd previously set her cap for Dick, does her best to break up the romance, but Hattie is championed by Dick's kid sister Geraldine (Jackie Horner) and family butler Jenkins (Alan Mowbray). The play's original storyline, which shifted into gear when Hattie began picking up Nazi shortwave radio broadcast in the fillings of her teeth, is virtually nonexistent here, as is Porter's score, save for "I've Still Got My Health" and "Let's be Buddies" (Lena Horne does, however, show up to sing "Just One of Those Things", a carryover from an earlier Porter musical). A notoriously troubled production, Panama Hattie was completely refilmed after a disastrous preview, delaying its scheduled release by nearly a year.