14 January 2017 | AlsExGal
A movie about vaudeville chuck full of real vaudevillians
This film has a paper thin plot and a few catchy tunes, but by no means am I comparing it to Busby Berkeley's polished work over at Warner Brothers at the time.
Instead, this is a great chance to see real vaudevillians practice their craft. The story outline is that a struggling show's backer comes to the cast and tells them that he and his partner have become insolvent and that they are going to give the cast the rights to the show as long as the cast releases the backers from any claims or debts against them. The cast agrees. Myrt (Myrt Vail), current star of the show, speaks up first and says that she realizes she is too old to continue playing the lead dancer and wants to give a new girl a try. She'd "rather be the manager of a success than the star of a flop". The troupe's comedian isn't funny either and they will need to replace him.
For both jobs, enter stage left Marge (Myrt Vail's actual daughter) and comedian Eddie Hanley (Eddie Foy Jr.). Unfortunately, Marge's mom, played by Trixie Friganza, does not want her daughter on the vaudeville circuit living the stage life. So mom is invited to come along to chaperon - she does just that. Myrt finds a financial backer in the person of Jackson (Thomas Jackson). The problem is that Eddie and Marge are falling for one another, but married Jackson turns out to be a scum bag and moves in on Marge. Complications ensue since how do they keep the show going with the financial backer causing such emotional friction? Without him, they are too broke to make it to Broadway. Watch and find out.
The actual performance of the theater troupe in their staged act is not the real attraction here, although the numbers are not bad. The attraction is all of these actual former vaudevillians - Myrt, Foy, Friganza - doing bits of their former vaudeville act for the screen. Then there is the effeminate property manager, Clarence (Ray Hedges), throwing in a hilarious one liner here and there. This kind of act would be history after the production code but was common in film in the early 30's.
And finally I come to the Three Stooges, billed here as Ted Healy and "Howard, Fine, and Howard". They also get a lot of side bits of comedy that would have been much funnier if somebody would have put a hook around Ted Healy's neck and dragged him off stage. He chokes out the comedy of the Stooges like weeds choke out a garden. But this is important viewing because it is filmed proof that Healy cutting the Stooges loose was the best thing that ever happened to them.
There is a bit of a trick ending, which is not such a trick if you know much about the title players, and I'll leave it at that. Very much worth your time, still funny and entertaining, and great if you are recovering from a nervous breakdown.