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The Life of the Party (1930)

Passed  |   |  Comedy  |  25 October 1930 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 117 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 2 critic

Two attractive female song-pluggers decide to become gold-diggers, with comic results.



(by) (as Melville Crossman) , (dialogue)
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Complete credited cast:
Winnie Lightner ...
Irene Delroy ...
Jack Whiting ...
A.J. Smith
Charles Butterworth ...
Colonel Joy
Charles Judels ...
Mons. LeMaire
John Davidson ...
Mr. Smith
Arthur Hoyt ...


Broadway song-pluggers Flo and Dot, besieged with admirers, are fired; disgusted with men, they decide to become gold-diggers. After a first success in "taking" fashion retailer LeMaire, they try the millionaires' playground of Havana, where mistaken identities bring their schemes to comic confusion. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


IT'S A KICK IN THE SHINS! You'll laugh till you cry At this glorious riot of fun! See more »




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

25 October 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charivari  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



(TV prints)| (2-Strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The title credits on the present surviving version, as well as the anachronistically more modern music behind them, were designed in the 1950s for the television release. The original material and musical accompaniment begins with the first title card, "New York was originally purchased from the Indians..." See more »


References The Song of the Flame (1930) See more »


Get Happy
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by Ted Koehler (1930)
Played as background music during the first intertitle
Reprised as background music once more
See more »

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User Reviews

Havana Widows
30 April 2012 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE LIFE OF THE PARTY (Warner Brothers, 1930), directed by Roy Del Ruth, is another attempt to capitalize on the presence of Winnie Lightner based on her debut screen character from THE GOLD DIGGERS OF Broadway (1929). Though Lightner appears to be "the life of the party" through her actions and wisecracking methods, the finished product, originally intended as a musical, is a straight comedy minus any party sequences but enough life and laughter only when Lightner is concerned.

Starting off with an amusing inter-title, "New York was originally purchased from the Indians for six dollars and thirty cents. The 30 cents was for Brooklyn," the plot gets underway with its introduction of two lady pals, Flo (Winnie Lightner) and Dorothy "Dot" Stottsbury (Irene Delroy) working as song pluggers for Mr. Foster (Eddie Kane) at the Acme Music Company in the Broadway district of New York City. Unable to interest anyone with popular song hits from the latest shows and motion pictures, the girls end up fired when their friend, Monsieur LeMaire (Charles Judels), comes to visit with Dot, thus disrupting the place when Mr. Foster forces him to leave. The next morning, Dot learns through a newspaper article that the man she loves, Robert Cole, age 23, has married a Mrs. James Halcon, a wealthy widow of 45. She and Flo come the conclusion that the only way to make it through life is to seek millionaires and marry them for their money, the way Bob has done. After acquiring jobs as models for fashion retailer, LeMaire, they trick him into loaning them enough clothes and take with them to Havana, Cuba, where they intend on doing some gold digging. Staying at the Grand Hotel, they make an impression by posing themselves as rich young widows. Along the way, Flo encounters Colonel Joy (Charles Butterworth), a horse breeder (who looks like a horse anyway), while Dot come across a bogus Mr. Smith (John Davidson), a male gold digger, and, through her phony fainting spells, Jerry A.J. Smith (Jack Whiting), inventor of the popular Rush soft drink. Things become more complicated when the excitable Monsieur "Yoo Hoo" LeMaire enters the scene.

What makes LIFE OF THE PARTY most fascinating for film buffs is the opening sequence of the Broadway district with theater marque titles of those 1930 movie releases, mostly Warner Brothers titles, including: "The Silent Enemy," "The Song of the Flame," "Fifty Million Frenchmen," "Courage," and "Journey's End" along with current Broadway shows as "The Last Mile," along with some inside humor of Lightner calling out movie songs from 1929 releases as "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" from "The Gold Diggers of Broadway" and "Singing in the Bath Tub" from "The Show of Shows," each featuring Lightner herself. With some songs deleted prior to theatrical release, the only one that remains intact is Lightner's rendition of "Poison Ivy." Several popular tunes of the day, namely "When the Little Red Rose Gets the Blues for You," are relegated to background scoring.

Often amusing, especially with the now familiar "gold digger" theme and mistaken identity angle, THE LIFE OF THE PARTY weakens as it progresses, especially through the constant annoyance of Charles Judels's frequent "Yoo Hoo" yells that loses its credibility long before its 77 minutes is up. Irene Delroy, the attractive, serious-minded gold digger, has her doses of man trouble, considering how both of them have the last name of Smith, while Lightner, naturally, gets all the laughs. Her funniest moment is where she disguises herself as a male jockey, making every effort staying on the back of the horse (Number 13) during a big race, followed by a series of mishaps until the horse comes across its biggest fear, a black cat on the race track. Rear projection is obvious, making the riding scene look phony or a reminder of a vintage silent comedy starring Ben Turpin. The result, however, are still quite funny. One liners as "We can't even boil water without ever burning it" comes as a hit or miss. Another laugh getter is Charles Butterworth, with his hair combed back and parted in the middle. A natural foil for Lightner, he worked opposite her again in two additional 1931 comedies, SIDE SHOW and MANHATTAN PARADE, which like this movie, can be seen on Turner Classic Movies cable channel.

Initially produced in early Technicolor, circulating prints are now only in complete black and white form, with 1940s orchestration to a song, "He Lied and I Listened" as introduced in the Warner Brothers 1941 drama, MANPOWER, starring Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich, as its over-scoring instead. I can't swear that the title cards used for the cast and credit listings, but do know this is the way LIFE OF THE PARTY has been shown on August 1990. Considering several films bearing this title, interestingly, in 1996, American Movie Classics, which then contained a film library of mostly 20th Century-Fox and RKO Radio titles prior to 2001, surprisingly aired this 1930 Lightner comedy over its standard 1937 RKO Radio musical as part of AMC's Ann Miller birthday tribute.

Though both are no cinematic masterpieces, the Lightner version is certainly a prime example of the type of movies that turned out during the dawn of sound, and something to consider. One can only hope for a rediscovery of the original Technicolor print along with the original scoring that came with the film's opening credits way back in 1930. (***)

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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