15 November 2007 | bkoganbing
Shakespeare As Presented By Minsky's and Adapted By Damon Runyon
One of the most enduring of Rodgers&Hart Broadway musicals is The Boys From Syracuse based on Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors. In this screen version, the musical score arrived with the main numbers intact, including Sing For Your Supper, This Can't Be Love, and Falling In Love With Love.
Not that A Comedy of Errors isn't bawdy and funny enough in its original version, but imagine Bill Shakespeare strained through Damon Runyon and presented at Minsky's and you have some idea what the film is all about.
Two sets of twins were lost at sea during their childhood during a shipwreck. One set went with father to Syracuse, the other wound up in Ephesus with mom. So an Antipheles and a Dromio grew up in those warring Greek cities without knowing about each other. Father Samuel S. Hinds left Syracuse to search for his other son and that son's twin servant as well. And Allan Jones and Joe Penner, The Boys From Syracuse, set out after him, not realizing what they were going to get involved in when they reached Ephesus.
The laughs are fast and furious, a lot of them provided by Martha Raye who is married to one of the Joe Penners and Joe Penner himself. Allan Jones from Syracuse of course is mistaken by his wife Irene Hervey of Ephesus, but he's got eyes for her sister, Rosemary Lane.
Allan Jones gets to sing Falling In Love With Love which became a standard forever identified with him, almost as much as The Donkey Serenade. In addition Rodgers&Hart wrote another ballad especially for the film version that Jones gets to sing entitled Who Are You. It's a lovely song and it's a question frequently asked in The Boys From Syracuse.
Joe Penner's comedy seemed to be a lot like Lou Costello's and considering both came from burlesque and probably played Minsky's not surprising. Penner even has that patented Costello whistle. Penner died young, a year later while on tour. During the Thirties he was enormously popular on radio and did several films of which The Boys From Syracuse turned out to be his last.
Alan Mowbray and Eric Blore are a pair of confused tailors who keep trying to collect a bill from at least one of the Antipheli. And a very droll performance is contributed by Charles Butterworth as the Duke of Ephesus. If this were done at MGM, Frank Morgan would have had the part.
The Boys From Syracuse is a personal Rodgers&Hart favorite of mine as is Allan Jones. For me this is a not miss film.