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William Collier Jr.
The famous matinee idol and blackface comedian, Don Wilson, heads out of town to escape adulation. There, calling himself Harry Mann, he accidentally joins a traveling acting troupe, and falls in love with Ginger Bolivar, who runs the troupe and stars in their Civil War melodrama. Don's producer sees the play, and thinks it's a comic masterpiece, and just what Don's Broadway show needs. But when Ginger finds out she's been played for a fool, will she forgive Don? Written by
There is no cast list in the film; Bessie Love and Johnnie Walker are on the title page and are listed first. All the credited cast are then introduced by intertitle frames which also provide their character names, just before they are shown onscreen. See more »
This film genuinely brought tears to my eyes at one point, and it is quite funny, although some of the gags are milked for too long (example: crawling around on Don's dressing-room floor). I felt that it had potential which was perhaps ill-served in this case by a rather pedestrian musical accompaniment -- the picture needs broad burlesque emotion for the broad acting and appropriate showtunes for the stage/blackface moments, rather than the inoffensive steady vamp which was what we were getting. And it took quite a long time to get going; the gags at the beginning ("Broadway runs North and South and wild"?!) went down completely flat.
Bessie Love is very good. I found Johnnie Walker a little nondescript, without either the charisma or the charm implied by his casting as a major Broadway star; it's hard to warm to Don Wilson, and I didn't care what happened to him as I did what became of Ginger Bolivar. Lionel Belmore has an effective supporting role as her Falstaffian father, a bellowing ham actor of the old school.
The plot hinges around a somewhat improbable misidentification, as Don courts the girl in two personae at the same time, but even in intimate moments she never notices their resemblance; however, in film terms one more or less has to take this as given. (I can't help feeling that while Don might have pulled it off on stage from a distance during one rehearsal, he was really pushing his luck!) The final denouement, though, I found hard to swallow -- again, I don't think Johnnie Walker has the charm to manage this convincingly. Perhaps here too the trouble was that I found Ginger a lot more appealing than her beau.
On reflection I feel that with a different leading man and more responsive accompaniment I would probably have liked this film better; I'm rating it six out of ten ('inoffensive; nothing special') to reflect my actual average experience, however.
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