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  • A carnival barker crashes onto Broadway, hoping to keep THE HALF NAKED TRUTH secret that both he and his ‘Turkish princess' are as phony as a three dollar bill...

    RKO Studios produced this highly amusing, but rarely seen, comedy with flair, exuberance, and first-rate performances. Broadway is given a few lighthearted kicks in the shin by its cinematic cousin and a good time is had by all.

    In the kind of role he could almost play in his sleep, Lee Tracy plays an over-the-top promoter who engages in wild escapades to get his ladies noticed by the press & public. He is conniving, untruthful & underhanded; he is also wonderfully funny. Tracy was the master at playing the anti-hero, the unromantic lover, the average-looking guy with the extra moxie it takes to get on top. Had his career not come crashing down around him due to a drunken indiscretion while filming in Mexico for MGM, he would probably today be remembered as one of Hollywood's top stars. As it is, he's lucky to be remembered at all.

    Lupe Velez is a terrific foil for Tracy. The Tamale, as he calls her, is pungent, peppery & red hot. As a temperamental hootchy-kootchy dancer who makes it from a carny midway to the Great White Way, she is perfectly cast in what remains one of her best roles. It is sad, however, watching this lively lady, to remember that she would die despondent & alone in 1944, a suicide at 36.

    Three top film comics help enliven the proceedings: gravely-voiced Eugene Pallette, who as Tracy's sidekick must impersonate eunuchs & nudists to further the scam; unctuous Franklin Pangborn as an officious hotel clerk; and blustery Frank Morgan as an imperious theatrical impresario who finds himself the target of Tracy's wild schemes.

    Movie mavens will recognize celebrated movie composer Max Steiner appearing unbilled as the orchestra leader during Lupe's Broadway rendition of ‘Hey, Mr. Carpenter.'
  • I was first attracted to "The Half Naked Truth" by the reputation of Lupe Velez. I had encountered her name linked in a romantic but ultimately tragic way to Gary Cooper. They were both reputed to be promiscuous and she at least to be violently jealous. He was mentioned in connection also in her suicide in that he tried to help her but as a married man who had long moved on but remained friends. Further reading suggested she had a very tough childhood the child of a prostitute who would turn tricks herself. So I checked out the movie out of curiosity about her.

    As mentioned by other reviewers , Lee Tracy is a driving force in this picture, as the hyper-active scheming cunning press agent, and his pace and presence swept me along in the fun. Yes, his character is a scoundrel. Yet he is an entertaining one that gives a twisted kind of value for his con. That value is delivered by the sexy and always entertaining Velez, she is the payoff that makes most forget that there is a con. However, Jimmy Bates is not just using her he's making her the toast of Broadway.

    This story, an early screwball comedy, presents us with two true to life screwballs who create a kind of chemistry that makes a molecule out of elements. When they are together fighting or scheming or making love, sparks are in the air. This is because Velez really is a Mexican spitfire and she gives as good as she gets. Just as Bates is ready to propose to her he discovers her making time with the big-time producer. She also plays a fine fake Princess when he asks it of her. They practically drive each other through the scenes with their energy bouncing off each other and this makes the half naked truth quite a romp.

    The supporting cast provide strong support. Eugene Palette takes the sidekick role even further in that he has his own operation going on with chamber maid Shirley Chambers, and he ultimately moves the story along both in the beginning and the end. This is an underrated gem, a veritable diamond in the rough.
  • Lee Tracy, too little known today, is one of the all-time great comic actors and a personal favorite of mine. He was the original Hildy Johnson in The Front Page on Broadway and although his major films are not numerous, each is a delight. Blessed Event with co-star Dick Powell and Bombshell with co-star Jean Harlow are gems long beloved by Thirties film buffs, but even they may not have seen The Half-Naked Truth, which is a pure jolt of the Lee Tracy magic. His physical and vocal presence are uniquely and unmistakably his: the lankily elastic body, the whirling-dervish energy, the sarcastic tone, the long fingers that always seem to be jabbing in someone's direction. There's not another screen actor I can think of who has quite the manic joie de vivre of the young Tracy. In The Half-Naked Truth, he plays a carnival barker and theatrical promoter who will go to any insane lengths to hog headlines (a very contemporary figure for us!). He's paired with Lupe "Mexican Spitfire" Velez, who proves to be an extremely apt partner for him; you believe in these two together, and that makes their final scene surprisingly emotional. (Tracy's magnetism definitely has its romantic aspect; watching Bombshell, an audience can be driven to heights of frustration waiting for Tracy and Harlow to realize that they are, in fact, perfect for one another.) The wonderful ending of The Half-Naked Truth also crystallizes the Tracy credo in a single line: "What good is life if you don't get some fun out of it?" You can have some of that fun by watching this film.
  • Fast-talking promoter Tracy moves carny dancer Velez from lowly tent act to high-class Broadway using nothing more than wiles and wits.

    Too bad we can't hook up Tracy and Velez to a generator, because between them they could whip up enough sheer energy to light a city block plus a few darkened bedrooms. Tracy is in overdrive the entire time, while Velez appears stuck in a permanent hip swivel. Her shimmying version of O Mister Carpenter is a charming show-stopper and, in my book, the movie's highlight.

    Tracy, of course, specialized in these machine-gun roles. Here he's totally convincing, but not very likable, as the high-powered con man never at a loss for words or an under- handed scheme. As an actor, his average looks and lack of leading-man charisma add up to an odd commodity for glamour-obsessed Hollywood. Still, he's such a whirlwind of activity, you hardly notice. As for Velez, if she's an example of Mexican womanhood, then I say let's open the borders.

    Add such colorful supporting players as Palette, Pangborn, and Morgan, plus lots of pre- Code innuendo, all whipped into a crowd pleasing mix by ace director LaCava, and you've got an amusing dish, even 80 years later. And, oh yes, as to the movie's big mystery—is the rotund Palette actually a harem-guarding eunuch in disguise? Just check out that deep froggy voice for a pre-Code answer.
  • Fast moving and very funny comedy loosely based on famous press agent Harry Reichenbach. A film to watch whenever your spirits need uplifting. Lee Tracy is always fun and is one of those rare performers who can lift any material out of the mundane. Here he has material and supporting cast worthy of his talents. A delightfull period piece which shows very little if any tendency to date. See it if you can and enjoy!
  • The Half Naked Truth is directed by Gregory La Cava who also co-writes the screenplay with Corey Ford from a story by Ben Markson and H.N. Swanson. It stars Lupe Velez, Lee Tracy, Eugene Palette and Frank Morgan. Music is by Max Steiner and cinematography by Bert Glennon.

    A carnival barker and a spunky belly dancer take on the might of Broadway...

    Based on the book The Anatomy of Ballyhoo: Phantom Fame (David Freedman & Harry Reichenbach), The Half Naked Truth is a smart and near caustic observation on the product of celebrity status. While not in the same league as the best of Preston Sturges, it's a film of many pleasures if you have a bent for rapid fire dialogue and scattergun pacing. What unfolds during the story is basically that an energetic Lee Tracy as Bates pulls stunts galore to bluff the whole of Broadway. The ruse is that Velez's belly dancer is actually a foreign princess and Bates engineers openings to stardom because of it. But of course problems are around the corner.

    Sharp performances back up the sharp script and some of the stunts pulled by Bates are very funny. It's something of an acquired taste, as comedy - especially the screwball variety - invariably always is, but this is a good pre-code comedy that has more beneath the surface than is first apparent. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This funny little pre-Code film benefits greatly from the dynamite teaming of Lee Tracy and Lupe Velez. Tracy plays Bates, a carnival barker/con man whose carnival is run out of town for fleecing local residents. He comes up with the bright idea of billing his girlfriend Teresita (Velez) as "Princess Exotica" from Turkey, and heads for Broadway. In New York, Bates fast-talks his way into a contract with the perpetually confused Merle Ferrell (Frank Morgan), then admits that Teresita is not a Turkish princess after all. Teresita electrifies the audience with a rendition of "Hey, Mr. Carpenter", then begins to grow apart from Bates, who is busy blackmailing Ferrell into hiring him for a publicist position. Finally, Bates believes that he has lost Teresita, so he quits his job with Ferrell, returns to the carnival, where Teresita is singing and dancing. The wedding march song ensues, signaling an upcoming Bates/Teresita marriage and the end of the film.

    This movie is just hilarious, with great singing and dancing from Velez, very funny performances from Tracy and Morgan, and punchy direction by La Cava. The "Hey, Mr. Carpenter" number is terrific, the dialogue surprisingly fresh, and the gags quite good. The scene in which a frantic Morgan finds blackmail photos of himself and Velez all over his office is howlingly funny. The great Max Steiner has a small role as a befuddled orchestra conductor. My only complaint is with the strange subplot about a nudist colony, which seems out of place.

    Watching this film makes me wonder what might have been. Tracy destroyed his career with an infamous drunken 1934 incident, and sadly Velez committed suicide in 1944. Both should have been major movie stars, but are remembered as footnote Hollywood actors—especially Tracy, who has been all but forgotten. It's a shame, because both Tracy and Velez shine brightly in this excellent, happy film.
  • This wonderfully ribald pre-code comedy is slightly schizophrenic in style. The first half is a breakneck-paced, rollicking sequence of frantic melees and stinging one-liners, not unlike Lee Tracy's other triumphs of the time, The Front Page and Blessed Event. Once the cast settles in on Broadway, the pace slows and the humour is more characteristic of director LaCava -- absurd situational comedy set up with deliberate pace and milked for effect. Although quite funny in its own right, this section seems to drag in comparison with the opening reels -- it may have worked better in a packed cinema than on the tube.

    In any case, this is a must-see for fans of pre-code antics -- there's no way it could have been made three years later. Tracy is terrific in his patented role as a fast-talking con artist, and Lupe Velez is a more lurid version of her Mexican Spitfire -- her minimal costumes rival those of a Busby Berkeley chorus girl. Frank Morgan is perfect as a libidinous Ziegfeld type, Franklin Pangborn is everyone's favourite fastidious concierge, and Eugene Pallette is victim to a hilarious running gag about his gender which alone is worth the price of admission -- he also has a unique method for tutoring fledgling Ophelias. There's an intriguing look at the 30s' conception of nudism, to boot.
  • The Half-Naked Truth is like a machine gun on steroids, a super-fast paced movie and a stage for Hollywood's greatest carnival barker, Lee Tracy. Tracy spends the entire 75 minutes racing at break-neck speed through miles of monologue - because his character never talks with, only at, those around him - and it's wonderfully exhausting to keep up with him.

    Eugene Palette plays one of the funnier roles I have ever seen him in. He's supposed to be Tracy's assistant, but he's not above pulling his own shenanigans on the side, particularly with respect to giving "private" acting lessons to a rather reluctant hotel maid.

    At least a couple of the other reviewers here, unfortunately, have got the running gag about Pallete's sexuality wrong: as per Tracy's publicity idea, Palette, complete with turban, is fresh out of a Turkish princess's harem. The idea is NOT that he is a woman, but that he is a EUNUCH. And the movie revisits this inside joke a few times, always to the understandable indignation of Mr. Palette himself!

    The plot itself really stretches credibility, but it doesn't matter. It's a fun and quick ride, so just enjoy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    9 stars, not 10, because I realize that it is a personal favorite, and I am thus biased. But here's a stab at dispassion, anyway: 1932 had some raw genre films, that later would become more polished as methods and directors and writers practiced their craft. For instance, 'Forty-Second Street,' for musicals, had some clunkiness of acting and script, yet the movie is raw and real and I liked that film greatly, too. So 'Half-Naked Truth,' with its not very likable leads just trying to survive in Depression America, has a few disconnected plot points, such as what happens to the lion? But. Tracy and Velez suit each other, schemers both, jealousy a large part of their relationship. Also, they've both cheated, Tracy with a carny blonde in the beginning and Velez with Morgan in the middle. Do you know couples like this? I do. Not very stable, are they, and we outsiders wonder what makes them stick together. After their reunion at film's end, Tracy says, "I've got something for you," to Velez as she shimmies on stage, and her gaze travels from his eyes to about two feet lower, and she gestures to the orchestra to hurry up and end her number. So, that is what they have for each other, and if Tracy is an acquired taste for viewers and Lupe, Velez and I have acquired it. Add to this the nice location shooting in NYC and the absurd nudist colony subplot, and you have a pre-code delight.
  • Lee Tracy and Lupe Velez are outstanding as press agent and circus dancer in this wild comedy of ambitious impostors. Tracy is a supremely fast talker….but Velez is probably right when she exclaims repeatedly that he's "Nothing but a four flusher!"

    A fun supporting cast includes Frank Morgan as big shot Broadway producer Merle Farrell, complete with long cigarette holder that he can't quite handle…and the great Eugene Palette as a circus escape artist who tags along with Tracy to the big city as a sort of assistant schemer.

    The plot may be somewhat uneven but this picture certainly has its moments. One sensational highlight is Lupe's song-and-dance on Broadway, in which she starts out stumblingly but changes her tune and wins over everyone, including the initially-shocked highbrow producer Morgan.

    Eugene Palette's scene staging a publicity stunt in a nudist colony is also hilarious. He shushes a companion complaining about the dress code: "You're lucky it ain't winter."

    Energetic performances and some spicy dialog produce plenty of laughs; Tracy and Velez pull off the rapid-fire love-hate bit superbly. If it's a bit inconsistent, this picture is nevertheless full of goofy surprises that keep us watching. Very entertaining.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "The Half Naked Truth" was just the boost Lupe needed to show everyone the sizzling comedian who had been hidden underneath a swag of melodramatic roles. Known more for her over publicized romance with Gary Cooper than for her thespian abilities, by 1932 the affair was definitely over. Earlier that year Lupe had wowed Broadway with her role as Conchita, a feisty Mexican charmer, in "Hot Cha!" and her popularity was able to keep the show going for a modest 119 performances. But "The Half Naked Truth" gave her a tailor made role as "Princess Exotica" a publicity hungry actress. Creating a sizzling partnership with Lee Tracy, to me the ultimate pre-code actor, together they reached a peak of witticisms, humour and extravagance. The movie also offered Lupe a chance to take advantage of her self mocking humor and caricature, which she did in a most wonderful way.

    Fast talking press agent Jimmy Bates (Lee Tracy) is tearing his hair out in frustration - at not being able to get out of this flea bitten carnival!!! Among his bright ideas is a ploy to get La Belle Sultana (Lupe Velez) to confess the name of her father to a crowd of worried hicks who have nervously gathered around the side show. This gag is one of the funniest in the movie. There is no long lost father but all the men sure look guilty, each one convinced they are the culprit!! It backfires and the three of them (Eugene Palette is the token buddy) are run out of town but by the time they hit Broadway, La Belle Sultana is now the Princess Exotica with Jimmy doing his best to pass her off as a Turkish harem girl and get her into the Merle Farrell (read Earl Carroll) Follies.

    There is also a hilarious bit with a completely stressed chihuahua - you'd be stressed too if you saw Lupe's antics, picking the dog up as if it was a handbag and throwing it around. Fortunately or unfortunately the little dog disappeared soon after this!!! Another publicity gimmick was displaying Exotica's pet lion to the disbelieving reporters (Lupe seemed more scared than anyone as she hid behind a lounge while the lion wandered around the apartment)!!! The "tamale" becomes the hit of the show with her jazzy, sexy hoochie dance to "Hey, Mr. Carpenter" - she has the male members of the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. But, as usual, she gets to big for her boots and feels she is now above these silly antics while exasperated Jimmy proclaims "I can put any dumb-bell in your place" - the dumb-bell happens to be the maid who is yearning to be a secretary when she learns how to spell!!! Suddenly Exotica is old news and must take a back seat to the new "Eve" but with Lupe not now the centre of attention the film loses a bit of it's zip, even though Tracy is peppy as ever. Lupe, for me, is the highlight.

    The film ends with Lupe back dancing at the carnival and Tracy promising to give her "what for" when the dance is over. Under Gregory La Cava's direction Lupe smoothly burlesqued her real public self, a lampoon that would stand her in good stead for her "Mexican Spitfire" series.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Directed by Gregory La Cava, and executive produced by David O. Selznick, this film's writing credits include Corey Ford, David Freedman and Harry Reichenbach (for their book, "The Anatomy of Ballyhoo: Phantom Fame"), the director, and Ben Markson and H. N. Swanson for their story about three carnival persons who make it big in New York. Also noteworthy, Max Steiner appears uncredited as the conductor in the New York show.

    Jimmy Bates (Lee Tracy, terrific in this role!) is a small time carnival barker with big ideas. Achilles (Eugene Palette) is his assistant of sorts, his partner in crime, who also performs as a strong man or any other required role. The beautiful Teresita (Lupe Velez), aka La Belle Sultana, is the show's only real talent, who is currently playing a belly dancer. Jimmy struggles to convince the carnival's owner, Colonel Munday (Robert McKenzie), that he should be its press agent (replacing a character played by James Donlan, uncredited). To drum up business and extort hush money, Jimmy decides to tell the small crowd that Teresita will reveal the identity of her father, that it's someone from their town and sure to be scandalous, at the end of her next show. Prior to the show, Achilles collects a fortune, from persons who don't want their names mentioned by La Belle Sultana, and then gets drunk. At a packed show, while Teresita dances and the crowd waits impatiently, a drunken Achilles lets slip that it is indeed a hoax to the Sheriff (Charles Dow Clark, uncredited) who stops the proceedings and calls for their arrest. In a madcap melee, Jimmy, Teresita, and Achilles escape to New York.

    Once in New York, their odd appearance attracts attention. Jimmy seizes upon the opportunity to promote Teresita as Princess Exotica, the next big act for Merle Farrell (Frank Morgan), the famous New York producer he'd been name dropping and claiming to know, though they'd never met. They take a cab to the Savoy where Jimmy continues his bluster such that he convinces hotel clerk Mr. Wilburton (Franklin Pangborn, always great) to provide them a suite. Unbeknownst to Achilles, he signs him in as the Princess's eunuch. Jimmy then proceeds to invade the set of the nervous and excitable Mr. Farrell's current show, where it's being rehearsed, before he is tossed out on his ear. So, he causes the press to clamor to visit the Princess's suite by having her order 20 pounds of raw meat. Prior to their arrival, he arranges for the delivery of a lion act to the hotel room, causing a sensation which appears on the front page of the newspaper along with Jimmy's phoney claims about the Princess being in Merle Farrell's next big show. Jimmy also arranges for an airplane to fly by the producer's window parroting the same before he arrives at Farrell's high floor office with Teresita. Mary Mason plays Farrell's secretary.

    Now in the door, Jimmy brags that the publicity his efforts have spawned will insure Farrell's next show will be a hit and convinces him to sign the act to a contract. Once in hand, Jimmy admits that Teresita is no Princess but tells Farrell that it doesn't matter because she has talent. However, when she sings a tune, it causes the producer to cover his ears and yell "stop". Stuck with her, and against Jimmy's advice, Farrell returns to his tried and true formula creating a big desert production number for the Princess. Unfortunately, the opening night crowd is bored by the slow, belly dancing act and starts to leave. With help from Achilles, Jimmy takes charge of the stage enabling Teresita to sing the same "catchy" tune that Farrell had rejected. Since it's so different from anything the staid New York audience had ever seen, it charms them and Teresita becomes the toast of the town. She also begins dating Farrell which upsets Jimmy, especially when she gets "too big for her britches" by failing to acknowledge his contributions to her success. He then humorously blackmails Farrell into dropping Teresita for a chambermaid (Shirley Chambers) that Achilles had been courting and grooming for stardom, while she believed him to be a eunuch. He arranges a nudist colony publicity stunt for her. This earns Jimmy a prominent position in the married producer's organization.

    Achilles gets bored with the New York scene and tells Jimmy that he's bought Colonel Munday's carnival show. He tries to convince Jimmy to return with him, but Jimmy says no. However, shortly thereafter, he receives a telegram from Achilles saying he could use Jimmy's help and, after discussing it with his secretary (Bess Flowers, uncredited) and office boy Tommy, he chucks his job and returns to the more simple (?) life. Once there, Jimmy learns that Teresita is the carnival's lead attraction and the film closes indicating the two of them will be getting back together.
  • The fast-talking Lee Tracy fits the role perfectly of Jimmy Bates in "The Half-Naked Truth." This is a strange film, with some humor. Bates is a character who promotes Teresita (played by Lupe Velez) from a carnival act to the big time on Broadway. It's all done with very little truth. The only thing that is true is that his client has some talent. As Bates says, success is all in the publicity, and what he won't do for publicity! It's a nice satire, but on the duped as well as on the dupers, and of the press that was always looking for the sensational and unusual to report as "news."

    Hollywood staple player Eugene Pallette is Achilles, Bates' right hand man. Frank Morgan plays Merle Farrell, a big-time Broadway producer. If he's supposed to be a takeoff or copy of Florenz Ziegfeld, it's a lousy one. Here, Morgan plays more of a buffoon than a real talent and show promoter.

    The comedy is hit and miss in this film. The funniest scene is when they get rooms in the Ritz hotel. Bates registers for the three of them with separate rooms and a suite for Teresita. When he registers for Pallette, the clerk looks at the registration, and though the word is never spoken, it's clear that Bates has signed him in as a eunuch. He says to the hotel clerk, Mr. Wellburton, "Oh, uh, you know, uh, they have them in all Turkish harems." Wellburton says, "Oh, yes, of course," and Bates says, "He's very sensitive about it." This comes back a couple times later in the film with Achilles fussing over what Bates registered him as. Wellburton is played by another established and familiar supporting actor, Franklin Pangborn.

    And, in a whirlwind of newspaper reports and scene flashes, we see the meteoric rise of Bates as a promoter with some outlandish tidbits. A newspaper article reports, "Citizens of Pleasant Falls were startled yesterday at the report that a Nudist Colony had taken up its abode in a wooded dell on the outskirts of town." Then an action segment shows Pallette and some other guys in what look live caveman costumes in the woods. It's a hoot and over-the-top crazy.

    Although this is just a so-so comedy and film, it is one of the better ones of the young and attractive Mexican actress, Lupe Velez. She was 24 when she made this film. Like some other young actors, Velez had some rocky affairs and took to heavy drinking and drugs. At age 36, she would commit suicide with a drug overdose.

    Some reviewers see much more comedy in this film than I did. But, for anyone familiar with Lee Tracy, his fast-paced non-stop prattling soon becomes rattling on the nerves. Only fans who can long bear with that sort of delivery, and those of Tracy and Velez are likely to enjoy this film. Here are the best lines of this film.

    Teresita, "Oh, you're crazy." Jimmy Bates, "All pioneers are crazy, till they die - then they get a monument." Achilles, "Who wants a monument?"

    Jimmy Bates, "Listen, baby, you don't wanna be a hootch dancer all your life, do ya?"

    Jimmy Bates, "If I don't have you in Merle Farrell's Folies before the end of the week, I'll eat that dog in Times Square without mustard."

    Merle Farrell, "I'm working so hard, I don't know what I'm doing."

    Jimmy Bates, going over mail with his secretary, "What else is there?" Miss Flowers, "A letter from the Seluvian secretary of state." Bates, "What does he want?" Miss Flowers, "Would you be interested in handling the next presidential campaign?" Bates, "No. Who wants to leave a sucker town like this."

    Miss Flowers," Imagine anyone daring to question your veracity." Jimmy Bates, "Such language."
  • ksf-215 August 2018
    Frank Morgan (The Wizard !), Frank Pangborn (all those W.C. Fields movies), and big, bellowing Gene Pallette in one film. It'll take all of them and more to stand up to Teresita (Lupe Velez)! The carnival gets busted by the sheriff, and they all am-scray before the sheriff can haul them away. When they move into a high class joint, Pangborn is the hotel manager. Teresita puts on a show for the Follies producer (Frank Morgan), and suddenly she's back on top again. Kind of a strange turn, where the mexican girl goes on the stage as a turkish princess, then they concoct a story where suddenly she's a jazz dancer, and the audience doesn't mind being tricked. Lee Tracy is "Jimmy", Teresita's manager, who builds her up, but then he gets the boot! Will he get his revenge? It's a fun show biz adventure. The plot is just absurd, but it moves pretty quickly. Directed by Greg LaCava, who had directed some biggies... Stage Door, My Man Godfrey. Died young at 59 of a heart attack.
  • JohnHowardReid11 February 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    I would definitely rate the Broadway debut scene, so masterfully enacted by Frank Morgan (of all people!) and Lupe Velez – and also briefly featuring Max Steiner in the second of his only two on-camera appearances – as one of filmdom's Top One Hundred movie scenes. The rest of the movie – filmed at a frenetic pace by Gregory La Cava – is also top-notch viewing with Lee Tracy in fine form as Lupe's Clayton's friend (the friend you have when you're not having a friend). Production values are admirably extensive and once super-popular but now sadly under-rated director, Gregory La Cava, can be seen at the absolute zenith of his form. How can a director, once so super-popular with both critics and moviegoers in his day, be now so undeservedly forgotten? Available on an excellent Warner Archive DVD.
  • This sour ball comedy features the abrasive pairing of two early sound Hollywood figures Lupe Velez and Lee Tracy. It's one scuffed up film.

    Bates (Tracy) is a carnival barker pimping the hips of the fiery Teresita (Velez) when she bolts with him for the big time of Broadway along with Achilles (Eugene Palette). Bates in rapid time barges in on a Jed Harris type producer (Frank Morgan) and convinces him to put Teresita in a show who then dazzles. The pair split, they get back together and return to road.

    One can understand La Cava's urgency to complete this project having to deal with the mercurial talents of his leads by directing it like one of his silent shorts. Tracy looks and acts like he needs to catch a train and La Cava seems to just give him the green light until he tires. Velez had yet to put spit in fire and her dancing and timing barley flicker. Palette merely croaks.

    The Half Naked Truth is a sloppily slapped together piece of brass and crass void of pace and humor. The single redeeming factor of Naked is that I found great enjoyment in two large crowd scenes involving cast members stolen around 42nd Street and Grand Central. They explode with a celebrated naturalness, the film just recites in bad time.
  • Previous comments encouraged me to check this out when it showed up on TCM, but it was a severe disappointment. Lupe Valdez is great, but doesn't get enough screen time. Frank Morgan and Eugene Palette play familiar but promising characters, but the script leaves them stranded.

    The movie revolves around the ego of Lee Tracy's character, who is at best a self-centered, physically and verbally abusive jerk. The reactions of "the public" are poorly thought-out and unbelievable, making the "shenanigans" seem like contrivances of a bad writer. And it strains credulity that the Lupe Velez character could fall for him.

    The "stinging one-liners" mentioned in another review must be dependent on the observer, since I didn't even notice that an attempt was being made.
  • Delicious Hispanic comedienne Lupe Velez's iconic Mexican SPITFIRE series was seven years in the future when she made this movie in 1932, THE HALF NAKED TRUTH. A star since the late 1920's, Lupe was one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood and had a great career despite the limited casting opportunities that came her way (unlike her contemporary Dolores Del Rio, she would never play anything but a Latina). I'm a big admirer of Lupe's and really looked forward to this film especially with one of the great comedy directors of the era, Gregory La Cava, at the helm and cohorts as talented as Lee Tracy, Eugene Palette, and Franklin Pangborn. The movie is all about hyping a modest talent (Velez's cooch dancer) into major stardom thanks to brash, shameless publicist Lee Tracy. I found this rather ironic because it's seems this movie itself is a classic example of hype, it gets raves in many corners in my opinion simply because the great La Cava is in charge, however the results are quite disappointing. Several of the situations are great but never live up to their potential, notably the early carnival segment.

    Lupe is one of the stars of a flea-bitten small time carnival show that plays small towns to indifferent audiences, Tracy and Palette have behind the scenes jobs at the carnival. When the carnival's publicist quits because of the late paychecks, Tracy sees it as his opportunity to step into the job and become a big shot. Acting as the carnival barker, he announces Lupe is traumatized by this visit to their locale as she has just learned a local man is her father, the results of a 20-year-old indiscretion involving her mother, then a carnival girl like she is today. Tracy proclaims Lupe will reveal the name of the man who fathered her at tonight's performance, which perks up the previously disinterested locals who come a packin' into the show later that night. Alas, it all falls apart (regrettably as it would have been fun to see it pulled off) and in the resulting big brawl, Tracy hauls tail out of town with Eugene and Lupe as they steal a car and head for New York and the big time where Tracy successfully passes off Velez as an eccentric princess with a pet lion and desire for a show business career, a stunt which quickly lands her a slot in a major Broadway revue.

    Despite her top billing Lupe's part is regrettably secondary not only to Tracy but also Eugene Palette in perhaps the largest role this great character actor ever played in a talkie. Tracy's con man will remind many of his similar part in the next year's BOMBSHELL (a vastly superior film) opposite Jean Harlow, unfortunately his character is even less likable here and when he maliciously sabotages Velez's stardom when she takes up with producer Frank Morgan he just seems mean. Palette, on the other hand, is hilarious at every moment and there's a funny quite racy running gag of something mysteriously written about him by Tracy on the hotel's guest book, perhaps so that he can share a room with La Velez, probably that he's a eunuch but possibly that he's gay or somehow less than a man. Tracy also gets a racy gem of a parting line in his last scene with Frank Morgan but this script honestly needed another rewrite, there aren't that many laughs although many scenes seem prime for them. A low point is the occasionally unimpressive production design, the ritzy New York hotel the gang is staying at is rather sparsely furnished and worse there's a shot of an airplane flying that is blatantly a toy; couldn't they have found some stock footage of a real plane? THE HALF NAKED TRUTH is a fairly decent time filler and enjoyable even if you've undoubtedly seen it all before. And that fact that the luscious Ms. Velez wears the skimpiest outfits she ever wrote in a movie will surely be enough of a reason to check this out.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . THE HALF-NAKED TRUTH features an insane "hooch dancer" promoting suicide as the Final Solution to Life's Kerfluffles. If your husband tools around swinging through the jungles every night shrieking blood-curdling screams, why NOT have a HIGH NOON duel with yourself? When THE HALF-NAKED TRUTH was released, G-MEN were kicking in doors across America to deprive Citizens of the opportunity to exercise their Second Amendment Rights. Valiant RKO Studios released HALF-NAKED in a courageous attempt to push back against the Boys then Crying Wolf (aka, the Hysterical Warner Brothers bunch). Real Life Right-to-Die Champion "Teresita" waves around her personal planetary ejection firearm device as HALF-NAKED begins to clearly foreshadow her own Final Solution. After she surrenders her Peacemaker, Teresita suffers through an hour of humiliations culminating with her being stuck in a dead-end rut of sexual exploitation. Only a hard-hearted Sociopath will be able to sit through a showing of HALF-NAKED without then contributing to their local chapter of BANGS (Broke Americans Need Gun Stamps).
  • Lee Tracy is a name few would remember today. However, for just a few years in the 1930s, he was a hot commodity--playing in some top films for top studios like RKO, Fox, Warner Brothers and MGM. So what happened to him? Well, he had two huge problems--he was typecast as the same sort of fast- talking sharpie (often a reporter or confidence man) AND he was an idiot. I really hate to be so blunt, but his off-camera behaviors severely alienated him and the studios apparently tired of working with him and apologizing for his actions.

    In "The Half Naked Truth", Tracy plays a very typical sort of role--the fast-talking showman who lies, tells half-truths and promotes his girlfriend, Lupe Valez, from a cheesy carnival sideshow act to the toast of Broadway. However ridiculous this was (as Valez' character had no discernible talent and the charisma of a case of the clap), the film is entertaining on a basic level. Don't think too much and you can enjoy it. So why did I give it only a 6? Well, it broke absolutely no new ground and Tracy's role is almost exactly like 1472343 others I've seen him do. In other words, it's fun but lacked originality to make it worthy of a higher score.
  • Gregory La Cava made some dandy movies (My Man Godfrey, Stage Door) but this isn't one of them. The film wants to be an early and sparkling exemplar of the madcap comedy genre. Alas, it is nothing of the kind. Asked to carry the weight of this film on his shoulders, Lee Tracy merely whines his way through it (although the whining is done at his usual warp speed) and is badly mismatched with Lupe Velez who comes across more as a shrew with a bad English language vocal coach than the Mexican Spitfire she eventually grew into in later roles. Frank Morgan does the best he can with the flat dialogue written for him, but even he can't bring the film to life. The plot lurches from situation to situation but none of the situations is especially funny and none of them connects with another to create a coherent narrative line. The Half Naked Truth is 77 minutes long, but it's a long 77 minutes.
  • The main trouble with this movie is that none of its characters are all that likable. Lee Tracy as the carnival barker turned into a publicity man has a voice and brashness that quickly get annoying. The talent he's promoting, a young 'exotic' singer played by Lupe Velez, wears the requisite skimpy pre-Code outfits, but her musical and dance performances fall flat. Frank Morgan plays a Broadway show owner whose romances lack any semblance of reality or passion. There is simply no charm in this script, and Velez is the only actor cast who has the capability of breathing some into it, but she's almost entirely bottled up, which is a shame. There are some cute moments, such as when Tracy gets a compromising photo of Morgan and Lupez kissing, and blows up all sorts of copies to torment Morgan in his office. However, there are many other moments which are lame and anything but erotic, such as the whole nudist colony thing. The film seems to have been in search of something spicy, but you can't get that by giving it an ill-fitting and salacious title, including the most boring nudists possible, or by putting people together who have zero chemistry. Velez is the main reason to watch it, but you could also do much better.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Basically an enjoyable, if unbelievable story of carnival side show workers who end up as the toast of Broadway in a bizarre scheme to present leading lady Lupe Velez as a Turkish princess. Frank Morgan, just a few years short of playing Ziegfeld's rival in a carnival in The Great Ziegfeld, here plays a Follies producer, much like Ziegfeld himself who is suckered into presenting the Velez as his newest discovery. It is truly unbelievable to see these signs show threads on the big city slickers of Broadway into getting away with this scheme, but when it is done in such an entertaining fashion and with such great performers as Lee Tracy and Lupe Velez in the lead roles, with fine supported by Eugene Pallete and Morgan, it ends up being pretty enjoyable.

    Lupe Velez had a fine singing voice, and having already sung in a few movies, is obviously not being dubbed. The strange thing however, is that her Mexican accent disappears Having introduced the Peanut Vendor song in Cuban Love Song a few years before, and later singing in the Mexican Spitfire series, you have a definite proof indeed for singing. She was a delightful comic, and here plays her unusually temperamental spitfire, at one point slapping Tracy then bursting into tears when he retaliates without hesitation by immediately slapping her back. Morgan plays his typical flibetty gibette character, becoming Velez's sugar daddy but he doesn't stand a chance opposite the fast talking Lee Tracy.

    Eugene Palette is very funny with his gravelly voiced character, trying a bizarre publicity stunt while riding through the streets of Manhattan with an obviously fake beard, and apparently in the buff. the last are frequent, and if you can get past the whole con game scheme against seemingly smarter Broadway types, you will find a lot of enjoyment in this.