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  • This off-the-wall, pre-code Hal Roach offering concerns the Cosmopolitan Opera House which is faltering at the box office and owes over a million dollars to its creditors. The board of directors meets and they sign over their stock to one drunken member who then ends up with the debt. In despair he looks out the window and sees Pinsky's Burlesque Theatre doing a land office business. Of course he teams with Pinsky (Billy Gilbert) to get things moving again. And do they! The dull production of The Barber of Seville (why do they always pick on that opera?) is now set in a Barber College, of all places, and features a midway with "20 Beautiful Barberetts," whose dresses go sailing into the audience before the overture is over. Bump. Grind. Then the "opera" begins, complete with shrill soprano Lillian Miles, plus plenty of leering vaudevillians taking various roles - ones Rossini never imagined when he wrote the opera. Opera mavens will recognize themes from various Verdi and Donizetti operas woven into the proceedings. The chaotic finale, a strange number called "Would You for a Big Red Apple?" ("Would you what?" is the question that dares not be asked) is presented as the `Barberetts` lose their dresses once again. It is 100% farce, but has a grittiness to it that seems highly unusual for a Hal Roach comedy. At a recent screening, one audience member summed it up, "My but there is a lot going on in that one!" She understated. This wild comedy possesses an earthy realism that tells more about backstage life than one might expect to see in such a film. The unusual cast is not the usual Hal Roach stock company, with the exception of Billy Gilbert. The others are either players whose appearances usually go uncredited or what appear to be rank and file vaudeville performers. This reviewer found it both entertaining and educational and recommends it highly - if the reader is lucky enough to find it playing somewhere.