1 October 2014 | blanche-2
They laugh alike, they walk alike, At times they even talk alike
"Honolulu" is a silly, fun B movie from 1939 starring Robert Young in a dual role, along with Burns & Allen, Eleanor Powell, and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.
Young plays an idolized film star, Brooks Mason, probably modeled on MGM's own Robert Taylor, who is exhausted and needs a vacation. When he meets his double, George Smith, who has a plantation in Honolulu, he eagerly trades places with him. George wants to go to New York, where Brooks is being sent, because his girlfriend Cecelia (Rita Johnson) wants him to learn a little sophistication, so it works out. On the ship to Hawaii, Brooks meets Dorothy, and she thinks that he's Smith.
When Brooks arrives in Hawaii, he has to deal with George's fiancée as well as Dorothy. Plus George forgot to mention that he owes his future father-in-law $50,000 from a deal, and now the old man wants his money back.
Typical switched identity film made fun by Powell dancing, the presence of Burns & Allen, and Robert Young. Even if he could have played these roles with a little more verve, Young had the warm presence and sincerity that made him a TV megastar.
Powell does some terrific dancing, and Burns & Allen were both good, with Gracie using some of the old vaudeville jokes.
Of course, stereotypes abound -- an Asian houseboy who can't speak much English, a black butler who hasn't had much education, and Eleanor in blackface doing a tribute to Bill Robinson. However, none of that makes up a lot of the film, and Eleanor's tribute to Robinson was great.