20 January 2021 | SimonJack
An American team atop the British entertainment scene in WW II
This is a British comedy romance that stars two American entertainers who had become darlings of the British during World War II. The film has the same title as the long-running weekly radio show on the BBC, "Hi Gang!" that Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon created and hosted from May 26, 1940 to 1949.
Daniels and Lyon had been movie stars in Hollywood when they married in 1930. Shortly thereafter, they became a team in the vaudeville tradition and in the mid-1930s, they went to England to tour with their show. They fell in love with the country and people and settled in London. When World War II broke out, they stayed and entertained Allied troops. They then proposed the radio show to the BBC, and the Lyons were among the most popular radio hosts in the UK for several years.
Ben was a pilot and had served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in the early 1930s. After the U.S. entered WW II, he received an Army commission as a Lt. Col. in charge of the US Army Air Forces special services in England.
In 1941, Gainsborough Pictures made this movie about the Lyons. The plot is about the husband-wife team, each spouse of whom works for a rival radio network. It is set in New York to begin with, but eventually moves to England. It's a fictitious story meant to highlight the couple with comedy and hijinks, their singing, and with the war as the background. The comedy comes in tricks and capers each one pulls on the other. These are either to hijack a news scoop, or to goof one up. The film doesn't show several that are alluded to before the movie opens. Apparently, Bebe's "The Liberty Girl" gets the better of Ben's "Her Other Half" more often than he is able to pull one over on her.
The comedy here is mostly in the antics and a generally interesting and amusing plot. Toward the end there's a dose of vaudeville comedy in the radio show scenes. But, the plot otherwise isn't built on clever or funny dialog. Along with the Lyons is Vic Oliver who was a regular third person/partner on their radio show. As "The Nuisance with the Ideas," Oliver is the source of much of the comedy.
Film and history buffs will find this film interesting. Those who enjoy older films and especially movies that have something to do with World War II should find it entertaining.
Here are a couple of favorite lines from the film.
Vic Oliver, The Nuisance, " I'm not touchy. I'll sleep on the couch until you get another job."
Vic Oliver, The Nuisance, "Listen, I'm not the type who deserts a pal when he's in trouble." Ben Lyon, Her Other Half, "No -- you're the kind who brings in more trouble."