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  • American silent and talkie stars Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon moved to England in the 1930s and continued making films. By 1940 or so they also invaded British radio with the popular "Hi Gang" variety series in which they starred as themselves. This film is an offshoot of the radio show with Lyon and Daniels playing themselves but as rival radio reporters in the US who are also married.

    Very low budget but zippy with good songs and a ton of one liners as they bicker their way through the bizarre plot that has them "adopt" a boy evacuee from England. After a few mix-ups the "boy" turns out to be full-grown Graham Moffatt (from the hilarious Will Hay films of the era) and his crazed uncle, played by Moore Marriott (also from the Hay films). After these two go through a hilarious version of "Susannah's a Funny Old Man," radio listeners send in $50,000 to repair Moffatt's bombed-out castle. But that's just part of the crazy plot here.

    Old pros Daniels and Lyon (both in films since the teens) are breezy and fun and both have excellent singing voices. Vic Oliver, as the nuisance sidekick, is mostly annoying. Marriott and Moffatt are hilarious as always. Supporting cast includes Felix Aylmer, Mavis Villiers, and Jacques Brown as Botticelli.
  • calvertfan18 July 2002
    Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon star as radio personalities on rival networks in New York. A soon to be divorcing couple, each is constantly trying to one up the other, Ben mostly with the help of Vic Oliver.

    Graham Moffatt and Moore Marriott also star, as an "evacuee from London" and the crazy uncle, though their comedy really needs the likes of either Askey or Hay to pick up a little more.

    Plenty orf backstage fun, and some great numbers from Ms. Daniels make this a treat. 8/10
  • richard-mason1 November 2002
    What a peculiar film. Based on a popular BBC Radio Variety show of the 40s, but apparently bearing very little resemblance to it, except for the title and the stars.

    Surely one of the only British films ever largely set in the US (it does finally get to England for the last third), and to feature many English actors affecting American accents (admittedly much better than most American actors who try British accents). At least it comes naturally to Daniels and Lyon.

    One has to wonder if the Brits, knowing nothing but the government monopoly of the BBC, could really appreciate a plot that's based around the rivalry between two American commercial networks.

    It does have some funny spots, and some reasonably bright musical numbers, but the characters are extremely unpleasant for a morale boosting wartime comedy. Lyon and Daniels are absolutely ruthless in their efforts to top each other on behalf of their networks, and both are quite brutal towards Oliver, cast as a perpetual troublemaker. In the final scene, as the trio are flying back to America, Lyon and Daniels trick Oliver into stepping out of the plane. "But I haven't got a parachute" he shouts to them as he plummets to earth. "We know", they say cheerfully from the open plane door. We do see him then land in the water, so we know he isn't killed, but given that Oliver was married to the Prime Minister's daughter at the time, it does seem a bit unpatriotic.

    A moderately enjoyable curiosity.
  • 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."
  • Marcel Varnel, master of cut-glass farce, directed Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons in HI GANG!, based on their popular radio show, with sidekick Vic Oliver credited as "The Pest with Ideas" who keeps getting them into scrapes. They're a married couple and news broadcasters on competing radio networks in America. Eventually Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt show up and they wind up broadcasting in Britain.

    Miss Daniels had certainly changed since she had played Dorothy Gale in 1910's THE WIZARD OF OZ and Mr. Lyons since he had appeared in HELL'S ANGELS. Their movie careers were about over, but they were certainly popular in Great Britain, and there are occasional bits that still work. Each sings some good songs (most of whose lyrics were written by co-screenwriter Val Guest). It's the sort of episodic mishmash that Varnel excelled at. The modern viewer will probably find it forced, but it's a fun piece of fluff.