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Anybody's War (1930)

 -  Comedy  -  10 July 1930 (USA)
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Cast

Cast overview:
George Moran ...
Willie
Charles Mack ...
Amos Crow
Joan Peers ...
Mary Jane Robinson
...
Red Reinhardt
Walter Weems ...
Sergeant Skipp
Betty Farrington ...
Camilla
Walter McGrail ...
Captain Davis
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PARAMOUNT Publix New Show World Season Is Here! You'll Laugh Until You're Black in the Face, Too! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

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10 July 1930 (USA)  »

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(MovieTone)

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1.20 : 1
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Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Possibly because of legal or other complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and may not have ever been televised. See more »

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User Reviews

Second-rate blackface
7 July 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews



Moran and Mack performed in vaudeville as a blackface act called "Two Black Crows", and later brought this act to radio (presumably without the blackface make-up). Moran and Mack were basically Amos 'n' Andy without the subtle wit and social commentary. Moran and Mack were vaudeville stars, whilst Amos 'n' Andy were radio superstars ... but, significantly, both of these blackface acts flopped in the movies: the close-up photography made it painfully obvious that these "Negro" actors were really white men with burnt cork on their faces.

"Anybody's War" starts out in 1918 in the hick village of Buford, Tennessee, where Mack is the dim-witted dog-catcher and Moran is his even dimmer assistant. A dog named "Deep Stuff" is their official mascot. There's a lot of racial stereotyping here, very little of it funny: Moran and Mack are playing cartoonish black men, so of course they spend a lot of time shooting dice. When their dog swallows the dice, Mack puts the dog inside an X-ray fluoroscope and tells him to roll over, so that the crap game can continue (with the dice showing up via X-rays inside the dog's belly).

Walter Weems plays a cruel recruiting sergeant (is there any other kind? not in movies!), who tricks Willie and Amos (Moran and Mack) into signing up to fight the Kaiser. Pretty soon they're in Europe, in a military unit with handsome young Ted Reinhardt (played by Neil Hamilton, a matinee idol of the late silent-film era who was too bland for talking pictures, and who is now best known for his role as Commissioner Gordon in the 1960s "Batman" tv series). All through the movie, Willie and Amos are stereotypical Negro characters, stupid and cowardly and lazy. But when Ted Reinhardt gets captured by the Germans, his troopmates Willie and Amos suddenly become brave and resourceful, as they go on a rescue mission behind enemy lines for the climax of the film. A dull climax, though. Blame the script on Lloyd Corrigan, a sometime writer/director who was much more successful as a character actor: he tended to play meek little men. This is a movie with something to offend everybody. Hamilton is bland in his role, as is Joan Peers as the love interest. Obscure ingenue Peers got her big break in a landmark early sound film ("Applause") and parlayed that into a good performance in "Rain or Shine", but she never lived up to her early promise. The best performance in "Anybody's War" is by Betty Farrington (who?) as a femme fatale.

If you're really determined to see some blackface humour, skip "Anybody's War" and rent an Al Jolson or Eddie Cantor movie instead.


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