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Syncopation (1929)

This is RKO's first sound musical. It centers on a pair of vaudevillians who are quite close on and off the stage until a dashing millionaire comes around and begins wooing the female partner.



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Cast overview:
Fleurette Sloane
Rita Eliot
Alexander Winston
Mackenzie Ward ...
Sylvester Cunningham
Leon Barte ...
Artino (as Leon Barté)
Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians (as Waring's Pennsylvanians)


This is RKO's first sound musical. It centers on a pair of vaudevillians who are quite close on and off the stage until a dashing millionaire comes around and begins wooing the female partner.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Musical





Release Date:

24 March 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

New York-Melodier  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This was RKO Radio's first release. See more »


Benny: Good Luck with your next batch of fudge!
See more »


Featured in Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (2012) See more »


Music by Richard Myers
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Performed by Morton Downey and the Melody Boys
Reprised by Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians
See more »

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User Reviews

The first RKO film ever made
6 March 2008 | by See all my reviews

This was the first picture ever made by fledgling movie studio RKO, formed in 1929 by - among others - Joe Kennedy. The film is about the married dance team of Fleurette and Benny. They haven't been doing great, but they haven't been doing poorly either. Mediocrity is OK with Benny as long as he has Fleurette, but Fleurette longs for the big time. The owner of a prominent nightclub notices their act and offers them a whopping 800 dollars a week to headline. Remember, that would be eight thousand a week in today's money. Fleurette was just on her way out the door and out of her marriage when the offer materializes. The sudden shower of money makes her reconsider. The team is a hit, but Fleurette wants to be part of society, not just wealthy. The nightclub owner puts the moves on her after Benny embarrasses Fleurette with some of their old vaudeville friends during a party, and the divorce is on again. However, a clumsy new dance partner and the nightclub owner's less than honorable intentions have Fleurette destined for a fall - literally.

If this seems like an old tired plot, it really is. On top of that, Fleurette and Benny are played by less than great actors who are not nearly as attractive or dynamic as movie stars generally are. In fact, physically they are almost plain. That's probably why you've never heard of them - Barbara Bennett (Fleurette) did only one other film after this one, and Bobby Watson (Benny) went back to being a comedian - he just wasn't the romantic leading man type. That's the strange thing about these early talkies, in the first crazy years of sound, having a presentable voice was more important than being attractive or even having acting skills. Nobody really knew what "acting skills" were at the dawn of sound anyways - everyone was just feeling their way through the transition.

The reasons to watch this eighty year old film? First there is the wise-cracking musical comedy pairing of Morton Downey and Dorothy Lee as Lew and Peggy. They provide needed punch in both the comedy and music departments at just the right intervals to keep this film moving. Then there is Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians providing musical accompaniment. Their musical act is a great example of entertainment at the height of the Jazz Age. The music is peppy and they do some unusual things like don newspaper hats for one number and make some odd cheerleader-like hand jive movements in another.

Not on DVD or VHS, never shown on Turner Classic Movies to the best of my knowledge (although TCM's parent company shoul have the rights to this film), and not even in the public domain, this one may be hard to track down, but it is worth watching for the novelty of it all if you ever get the chance.

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