8 September 2018 | soren-71259
Bottom of the Barrel Musical With Some Charm
It's hard to imagine a more threadbare musical than this one or one with a less satisfying, and more downright irritating ending. The other reviewer has described the plot in detail and it's basically a story about a dreadful vaudeville team of talentless losers played by Eddie Nugent and Evalyn Knapp. Since it is pre-code the chorus girls wear as little as possible and Miss Knapp is a tiny slip of a thing who wears skimpy outfits that don't do a thing for her. And Nugent plays a pompous and annoying ass.
What makes this one hold interest is the fine acting of Evalyn Knapp as a strong independent woman who struggles to make ends meet in the very heart of the Great Depression. She was an actress called upon to deliver a solid performance when the shooting schedule was very short and can't allow for multiple takes and she delivers big time in this one even though her singing is dubbed and her dancing is gangly and atrocious. Of course impressario Alan Dinehart is swept off his feet by the mere sight of her but Miss Knapp is so diminutive and utterly devoid of dancing grace that one can hardly understand what is driving the rather ungainly Dinehart into these paroxysms since he is surrounded by fuller figured chorus girls who can actually dance.
The ever reliable Mae Busch is on hand to throw out wisecracks and George Grandee, another veteran of the z film, is on hand to match Busch's banter and to play and sing a very nice piano selection. His second banana role here is much pleasanter to me than those sorts of roles played by Frank McHugh or Frank Jenks in many higher budget Warner Brothers films. Then there is also z film venus Gloria Shea who appeared in so many of these lower level films that she earned enough money in real life to put her brother through law school and he became that famous sports attorney and official for whom Shea Stadium was named, the home of the New York Mets baseball team.
The several songs were not bad and one has a chance to see vaudevillian and actress Ada May who had a minor career in the footlights sing a tune and do one of her crazy legged eccentric dances. She is, well, just awful, yet managed to appear in 9 Broadway shows with featured roles in four or five.
The best thing about this film is the snappy dialogue and the constant references to contemporary things such as the Volstead Act, Al Jolson being at odds with Lee and J. J. Shubert, Nugent working close to New York in vaudeville so he can be nearby when the Palace Theatre will call him for his bigtime shot, and the idea of the differently priced fleabag hotels vaudevillians could stay at which was a measure of their success. The "insider" nature of this script gives a vivid and dark portrait of life on the boards for the dregs of show business, those people who keep trying but will never really make it.
The ending of this movie really angered me but it is always a joy to see Evalyn Knapp, even woefully miscast here, planting her feet and standing up to her men. I highly recommend Three of a Kind where she emotes with the crazy vaudeville veteran and genius Richard Carle in a low budget charmer. All in all, this one is above average while at the same time being below the level of a reasonably budgeted film. The sound recording appears to have been rather poor also and the dance numbers ragged although the director tries to manage a sort of Busby Berkeley overhead shot but can't get high enough and has no idea what to do with his dancers. Oh, well. It's goofy fun anyway.