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"Hit of the Show" is an ambitious failure, an attempt to cast comedian Joe E. Brown in a dramatic role which still gives him some opportunity for comedy. The ending is unexpected.
Joe E. plays a music-hall comedian on the same bill as a team of apache dancers. (For those who came in late: the apache is a French dance in which the male dancer flings the woman about very aggressively and pretends to beat her; sometimes the dance climaxes with a simulated stabbing.) In this case, the male dancer (LeRoy Mason) is a genuine sadist: he enjoys beating his female partner (Gertrude Olmstead) offstage, and the injuries which he inflicts on her during the act are genuine.
Joe E., of course, is attracted to the female dancer. When her partner (who is also her lover) attempts to beat her, Joe E. knocks him out ... just before the dance team is scheduled to go onstage. If they don't do their act, they don't get paid. To help Gertrude, Joe E. dresses up as her partner and does the apache turn with her. The act is a huge hit. (Joe E. Brown often played clumsy simpletons, but he was a skilful dancer and athlete.) Now it looks like Gertrude and Joe will be a big success in vaudeville as a dance team. But, overworked by his exertions on Gertrude's behalf, suddenly Joe E. clutches his chest ... and DIES! Yes, Joe E. Brown dies onscreen!
"Hit of the Show" is too sentimental, too slow, and not nearly funny enough. Joe E. Brown makes a manful attempt to prove his ability as a dramatic actor, but his part (and everything else in this movie) is badly written.
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