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Catherine Dale Owen,
Fun, but not up to the level of the first Rex Lease/Benny Rubin film, SUNNY SKIES
This is the second pairing of western/action-film/serial leading man Rex Lease and dialect comedian Benny Rubin for Tiffany Pictures in 1930, and it follows in the footsteps of their first film SUNNY SKIES, although it is not as well thought-out nor as charming as SUNNY SKIES. The setting this time is baseball (it was college football in the earlier film), and although the characters have different last names in this film, it seems as though we enter the film with their characters already established, although they are playing DIFFERENT people in a different environment. There are no songs here, no dancing, and not much of the pathos found in the earlier film. Although the handsome-popular gentile paired with the nerdy bumbling Jew was probably a well-established archetype in the vaudeville tradition by the time this film was made, I can't help but think of Lease and Rubin as a kind of earlier version of Martin and Lewis. That Jerry Lewis was aware of Benny Rubin can be inferred from the fact that Rubin appeared in small roles in a number of Lewis' solo films. People between 40 and 60 probably know Rubin best from his many appearances on Jack Benny's TV programs--those two probably played many of the same vaudeville houses together in the 20s and 30s. The supporting players are once again well-chosen (John Ince as the crusty team manager, Pert Kelton as Benny's girlfriend, Alice Day as the girl Rex foolishly ignores but eventually appreciates, Natalie Moorhead as the golddigger who teases and takes advantage of Rex), and Norman Taurog as always handles romantic comedy well (as he would do for decades after this!). See SUNNY SKIES first, but after that this film is worth watching too. The Rex Lease/Benny Rubin duo are still entertaining after 70+ years and these formulas are STILL being used today...but often not as well!
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