29 November 2011 | jimjo1216
"Someone finally shot him."
I believe Busby Berkeley is underrated as a comedy director. Everyone knows Berkeley for his larger-than-life, kaleidoscopic, troop-formation choreography, but the man directed several movies without such spectacles and I often find myself surprised at the nuggets of real comedy that pop up in films like STAGE STRUCK (1936) and GARDEN OF THE MOON (1938).
Pat O'Brien gives a terrific comedic performance as the ruthless and manipulative club manager. Some of his line deliveries are just perfect. I'm not always a Pat O'Brien fan, and his character in this film isn't the nicest guy, but he's great to watch in this role.
The comedy is greatly assisted by Granville Bates and Edward McWade as the penny-pinching hotel owners, the McGillicuddys. Their roles are relatively minor, but they are a hoot. ("When not in use, turn off the juice.")
Margaret Lindsay's character has a little more personality than some of the cardboard love interests she'd played earlier in the decade. She wears her hair a little differently, too (I guess it's the changing fashions), but she's still lovely.
Young John Payne plays a struggling bandleader who buts heads with O'Brien. Personally I found Payne's character to be a little abrasive, and I wondered what Berkeley veteran Dick Powell might've done in the role. Johnnie "Scat" Davis does his thing as Payne's sidekick/bandmate and the unforgettable, pop-eyed, mustachioed Jerry Colonna adds eccentric charm as a wacky band member.
There are some songs, and they're pleasant enough (written by Harry Warren, Al Dubin, and Johnny Mercer). Hijinks ensue as O'Brien clashes with Payne, with Lindsay caught in the middle. There are some great bits and some fine character actors (add Melville Cooper to the list), but this is still a minor film. I didn't care too much for Payne and the music didn't blow me away. O'Brien holds the movie together. It's enjoyable enough and rather obscure. Check it out if it comes on TCM.