Something to Sing About, (1937), re-released in 1947 as Battling Hoofer, is the second and final film James Cagney made for Grand National Pictures – the first being Great Guy – before mending relations with and returning to Warner Bros. It is one of t...
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"Terry Rooney" (James Cagney) is the stage name of Thaddeus McGillicuddy, a popular New York band leader and hoofer with a radio show, who gets an offer to go to Hollywood to make movies. He leaves behind his fiancee, the band's singer, Rita Wyatt (Evelyn Daw), and finds himself in the hands of studio boss B.O. Regan (Gene Lockhart), who sets a team of studio professionals to mold Rooney into a star. Regan, after struggling with another new talent who quickly developed an uncontrollable ego, also secretly insists that no one praise Rooney's work, on pain of being fired.
While shooting a bar fight for his first film, a stunt man who is supposed to throw a fake punch at Rooney hits him deliberately instead. Rooney retaliates, and a full-out fistfight breaks out. Disgusted with Hollywood, Rooney leaves to marry Wyatt, and for a honeymoon takes her on a tramp steamer for a cruise to the South Seas, ending up in San Francisco.
While they are away, the film is completed and premiered, and becomes a huge hit – but, to Regan's dismay, nobody in the studio knows where Rooney is. When he is finally spotted in San Francisco, Regan flies out immediately with a contract, a clause of which requires Rooney to remain single for its seven-year duration. Rooney and Wyatt agree to keep their relationship quiet, with Wyatt posing as Rooney's secretary.
Another film is begun, with Rooney acting alongside Stephanie Hajos (Mona Barrie), and to promote it, studio publicist Hank Meyers (William Frawley) plants news stories saying that Rooney and Hajos are love interests off-screen. The combined stress of having their marriage remain a secret, while Rooney has less and less time for her, eventually drives Wyatt back to New York. Hajos finds out that Rooney is not only not interested in her but is married; the story breaks to the papers, and Rooney returns to Wyatt and their band in New York with a front-page article declaring his relationship with Hojas a hoax.