Merry-Go-Round of 1938 (1937)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Musical, Romance

Merry-Go-Round of 1938 (1937) Poster

Two screwy characters travel to Hollywood and cause mischief.


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18 November 2005 | fcullen
few brass rings on this Merry-Go-Round, but two are golden
The golden moments are supplied by two comic geniuses from Broadway. Bert Lahr bellows and burlesks concert singers in "Song of the Woodman," and elfin clown, Jimmy Savo--whom Charlie Chaplin called the greatest pantomimist of his time--sings as he tries to hold back the flood in one of his signature numbers, "River Stay 'Way from My Door;" In another spot, Savo's engaging crab-like dance is reduced to a few seconds on film to make way for leading lady Joy Hodges who didn't belong in movies (or on the stage or anywhere else in show business). Hodges' deadening performance is not the film's only near-fatal flaw: there is the script blamed on Monte Brice, Henry Myers and A. Dorian Otvos---so hackneyed that one wondered if it were meant to be a spoof. Irving Cummings' direction (if he indeed were on the set) does nothing to cover up a poor script, and cinematography by Joseph A. Valentine undermines most of the comic moments. Other than Joy Hodges, the cast includes some of the best supporting comedians in Hollywood: Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, Louise Fazenda, Richard Carle, Hattie McDaniel, Dave Apollon and James C. Morton. There are three excellent reasons to see this film: Jimmy Savo, Alice Brady and Bert Lahr. Alice Brady, a fine dramatic actor as well as a comedian, turns her dialogue into hilarious operatic arias. Bert Lahr, seldom seen to advantage in films--most notably excepting his Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, shows his stage style that made him the darling of Broadway critics. Jimmy Savo, a very gentle, unusual comedian, requires several viewings for modern audiences used to bombast and insult comedy. Watching these masters is a must for budding comedians and clowns. But this is a difficult movie to locate. Petition TCM to schedule it. -- Frank Cullen, American Vaudeville Museum and Vaudeville Times quarterly

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