14 April 2003 | marxsarx
An early 'talking' (and singing) film which may still have appeal for film lovers today.
A bum named Bumper and his pals named Acorn and Egghead live a pleasant life in New York with a philosophy that it is better to be a bum than to work for a living. They just happen to be acquaintances with the mayor of New York who is a bit of a playboy.
When the mayor and his lady friend have a quarrel, she despairs and jumps off a bridge to end her life. Bumper happens to see her jump and rescues her from the river. The result of her trauma is that she has temporary amnesia, and she falls in love with Bumper while he is taking care of her.
This is a charming film, with many attributes that make it commendable. "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" is first and foremost a musical with some drama and comedy added in. Al Jolson's voice and singing are simply wonderful and this movie is good enough to see for the songs alone. The songs are snappy and cheery and if you'd like to be introduced to the famous Al Jolson, this is a good choice. There is also quite a bit of rhythm and rhyme to much of the dialogue in the film which is unique and fascinating. The credits on the film for 'Songs and Musical Dialogue' go to one of the most famous teams of songwriters in the history of film, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Their musical brilliance is in evidence in this film.
The cinematography is very good, and it takes us back to 1933 with a 'feel' for what the atmostphere would have been to be bum living in a park in New York, albeit a very happy go lucky bum in a very idealistically happy world. Lewis Milestone, who directed the film is an extremely well known director from the 1930's and 1940's and his skill is evident here.
Al Jolson is a great fit for his role in this movie as the good natured bum, Bumper. His friends Egghead (Harry Langdon) and Acorn (Edgar Connor) are also delightfully cast; these two actors light up the screen anytime they are present. Harry Morgan is terrific as the mayor (He would later be immortalized as the wizard in 1939 in "The Wizard of Oz." Madge Evans is beautiful as the rejected girl friend of the mayor.
This movie is just plain fun to watch and to listen to. I think you might be surprised to find out that this is one of the early 'talking films' which may still have appeal for many film lovers today. There is something timeless about "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" which makes it well worth watching. I give it a 9/10.