18 December 2006 | newsilentcomedy
Unwanting the on board life of a sailor, Jack Oakie poorly wise cracks himself into trouble and into the Captain's daughter's heart.
Obviously this early Paramount talkie was intended as a musical, but due to the overflowing flood of the genre on audiences the only remaining tune left in THIS MUST BE ILLEGAL (It's So Nice)a duet sung by Oakie & Roth and comes very expectedly as a sub plot (that vanishes) of a love interest for Oakie appears.This typical ditty (music by Ralph Rainger (perhaps his first for Paramount) & W. Frankie Harling with lyrics by George Marion jr)is cute but not a standout of this tunefull era. And (Dear Friend Actress June MacCloy referred to her as a real spoiled ****) Lillian Roth's purpose to be cast was that the studio was grooming her as a musical talent ( Example-"The Love Parade" where her song with physical comedian Lupino Lane made the same year was a highlight and in "Animal Crackers") The film features Jewish dialect comedian Harry Green as the "shyster" lawyer, Now I'm not Jewish, I'm also a big fan of Max Davidson, but watching the lengthy antisemetic gags and mocking of the "nebish" and ill at ease speaking (of both the English & French language with a Yiddish drawl) proves most uncomfortable! Possibly as it's original plan as a musical could have been followed thru these fill sections wouldn't have been so prevalent to the central plot of the story, But this is a Early Talkie and any variation of speech was entertaining if not simply a novelty! THERE IS A VERY INTERESTING SEQUENCE OF DIALOGUE THAT MUST BE MENTIONED, it is just prior to the romantic love song between Oakie & Roth and is remenisent to the voice dubbing in Harold Lloyd's first Talkie release "Welcome Danger"(also Paramount) Both actors had to VERY OBVIOUSLY (there was no dubbing as yet) HAD TO RESYNC THEIR VOICES TO MATCH THEIR LIPS for this approx 3 minute moment and TECHNICALLY IT IS A ILLUSTRATION THAT PREHAPS IT WAS ORIGNALLY SHOT SILENT as was the Lloyd picture! I'm independent film maker, preservationist & collector John Carpenter and out of over 3,000 16mm prints I own, This Print I adore as it BEST illustrates the transitional period of silent to sound film production even by a major studio as Paramount! There are Title Cards to introduce scene & local changes like a "Beanie" Walker two reeler in the days of the silent as well as lots of Silent Physical comedy gags & a ending that is a Pie Fight by every sailor from 2 ships demolishing a restaurant and deserts! It is now obvious why MCA removed this Paramount from their TV packages!Yes-It is most interestingly a historic piece of a era that won't ever come along again but to unfilmically educated or interested viewers it tends to limp along as ALL early talkies did! Eugene Palette as Oakie's Pal is a vocally verbal Talkie treat, masterfully diction speaking is Billy Gilbert in a extra on board and Oakie at his youngest (and thinest) still controls the screen while Palette, Roth & Green sputter on aimlessly!
A FUN FILM & A RARELY SEEN ONE it is a must see for early talkie lovers (friend Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project would love it!) and it is a title illustrating transition into a new medium and a cast at their earliest of screen accomplishments that should not be left forgotten and unpreserved! John Carpenter (NY) email@example.com