Form following form, not function...
Opera is a difficult art to bring to film. The most succesful adaptation I know first-hand is The Death of Klinghoffer, which pulled the songs directly into the action.
Luxury Liner is a comedy/musical where many of the songs are indeed operatic. I won't presume to guess just how many, as I'm not familiar enough with the form and definitions to say. By 1948, Hollywood knew to make the songs seem to fit into the plot, and some succeeded better than others. Luxury Liner seems solidly in the middle of the pack.
The plot revolves about a cruise ship captain and his daughter, Polly, who stows away because she's lonely at boarding school and misses the one parent she has left. When discovered, the Captain treats her like any other stowaway, putting her to work in the kitchen and washing floors. She is "rescued" by Laura Dene, who pays her fare and takes her into her room. From there, various love interests vie for these characters, but it's clear Laura and the Captain are meant for each other. Meanwhile, Polly discovers that the famous opera singer Olaf Erikson is on board, and does what she can to get his attention, for she has musical aspirations herself.
The songs sometimes work, and sometimes don't. Their use in the Polly and Olaf plot makes sense, and is fairly succesful, but elsewhere, they feel hacked on, often completely needless, and distracting. Usually the content of the songs - when intelligible - does little to underscore what's going on. Certainly, it's not a requirement that they do, but otherwise we need some different reasons for their placement. They seem to exist mainly to reach a quota.
The plot is sweet and simple, nothing special on its own. The acting fleshes it out a bit, suggesting a bit of depth, and the sheer niceness of most the characters goes far. The characters remain somewhat plain, though, and there's not a lot to learn from this one.
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