28 March 2020 | drednm
Jack Warner and Claude Hulbert
Backstage murder mystery in which the on-stage antics are far more interesting than the murder, especially the botched reveal.
It's a fascinating look at Jack Warner's Music Hall act, one that made him a big stage name in the 1920s and 30s. It's a combination of snappy patter and nonsense songs. Warner was 48 here, making his film debut. Also very good is Claude Hulbert, playing his usual character, all bewildered and bemused, and this time a cop.
There's also singer/comedienne Beryl Orde. She was famous for her impressions and she always did Martha Raye, but otherwise I can never tell who she's doing. We also get G.H. Mulcaster as an undercover cop, Manning Whiley as a creepy ventriloquist, Ian Wilson as the stage manager, Charles Carson as the magician, Hy Hazell as his assistant, Ivy Benson as the bandleader, and Evelyn Darvell as the lovely Peggy Royce, who sings a few songs.
The stage acts are mostly things we saw on Ed Sullivan's old TV shows: acrobats, knock-about dancers, spinning plates, etc. The murder mystery, alas, seems to have something to do with counterfeit money, but it seems to take a back seat to the entertainment. The creepy dummy that talks is played by Eric Mudd who is also seen in the acrobatic team of Sylvester and Nephew.
Not as good as I had hoped, but worth the effort to see Warner and Hulbert.