13 April 2006 | gut-6
Mostly crap, but some very good bits
This is essentially a filmed vaudeville performance - what might today be called a variety show - at a time when vaudeville was dying. It basically consists of a presenter who introduces stage performances by various artists, and includes comedy sketches, short drama pieces, singing, dancing, ventriloquism, animal acts, etc. Indeed one of the themes of the introductory patter was "Who killed vaudeville?", and this movie suggests an answer: "The performances".
Most of the acts were pretty corny by today's standards. It wasn't purely stage-based, though. There were some concessions made to the cinematic medium, viz the presenter pretending to read the credits as they rolled down the screen alongside him, and some archive film footage. Indeed it was the copyright violations caused by the archival material that prevented this film's release by the studio and resulting in this film's shelving after it was made.
However there were a couple of pieces which were very entertaining. Primary among these were Manual & Marita Viera's Society Orchestra, a trained monkey act. The two monkeys, dressed in suits, are playing bongos and piano when the curtain comes up. The monkeys are subsequently seen doing hammily dramatic facial expressions, doing a headstand, tunelessly playing a ukelele & piano, rapidly changing hats, playing a real tune on a touch activated electronic musical intrument, smiling, and finally engaging in a banana-eating contest where their cheeks puff out dramatically on being stuffed with bananas. It's not classy or sophisticated entertainment, and I'm embarrassed that I enjoyed it, but it's very funny even today.
The other highlight, years ahead of its time, was an MST3K style redubbing/renarration of an old silent film, in which an inept but enthusiastic violinist tortures everyone he meets with his awful playing, musically romances a girl, but eventually kills her with his dreadful musicianship.
In short, it's worth checking out this film for its good bits. The rest is largely of historical interest only, although Frances Langford looked great in the archive footage.