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Big Boy (1930)

Passed  -  Comedy | Musical  -  11 September 1930 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 62 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

Gus, the trusty family retainer, has hopes of riding his boss' horse, Big Boy, to victory at the Kentucky Derby.



(based on a musical comedy by), (screen play & dialogue by), 5 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Claudia Dell ...
Louise Closser Hale ...
Eddie Phillips ...
Coley Reed
Lew Harvey ...
Doc Wilbur
Franklin Batie ...
John Harron ...
Tom Wilson ...
Colin Campbell ...
Steve Leslie


Gus, the trusty family retainer, has hopes of riding his boss' horse, Big Boy, to victory at the Kentucky Derby.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Musical


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 September 1930 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the first of two Jolson Broadway vehicles to be filmed; the other was Wonder Bar (1934). See more »


Tomorrow Is Another Day
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Sam H. Stept
Lyrics by Bud Green
See more »

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User Reviews

Less musical than most of Jolson's films...
15 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...largely because of the fact that by the autumn of 1930, when this film was released, musical films were a sure fire miss at the box office. However, Jolson still owed Warner Brothers one more film to fulfill his contract. Thus they came up with the idea that Jolson should reenact his role as Gus in one of his Broadway hits, "Big Boy". This would allow Jolson to sing but be more likely to attract audiences. This required Jolson to do the entire film in black-face as a black man who is a servant on a plantation. If this had been done seriously I'm sure it would leave modern audiences aghast. However, let me assure you that through the entire film Jolson, as Gus, is kidding the audience. Let me also assure you that Gus is smarter than the family that employs him. I doubt most of them could reason their way out of a paper bag without his assistance. Gus' family has been serving the Bedford family for generations. Specifically, Gus is trainer and jockey for the Bedford family prize horse, Big Boy. However, one member of the family has written a bad check to a girl in the city, and a gambler is using that as a threat to the young man so that he can fix the results of the Kentucky Derby. Under fear of being sent to jail if the bad check is reported to the police, the young man gets Gus fired so that a jockey that will throw the Kentucky Derby can be hired to ride Big Boy. It sounds like serious stuff, but believe me the whole thing is performed tongue-in-cheek, at least Jolson's part is.

Just because 1930 audiences had their fill of musicals did not mean they had their fill of Jolson, so at the conclusion of the film Jolson is introduced as himself without makeup to sing one song. I'd recommend this one, but you have to like Jolson and you have to remember that this film was made eighty years ago and that no harm was intended by any of the characterizations.

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