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After her father's death, Mary Rainey takes over the Rainey Circus (which operates twice daily, rain or shine) but runs into financial troubles. In one bit reminiscent of the Marx Brothers, the circus performers are up to some ridiculous antics at a dinner party with the family of Bud Conway, Mary's beau. As times become worse and the performers go on strike, Mary must try to save the circus from rioting patrons. Written by
RAIN OR SHINE is a neat little circus film directed by Frank Capra and based on a Broadway musical that ran for almost a year in 1928.
By the time this film went into production, the vogue for musicals was over, so all the songs were cut from the film (a common occurrence in 1930). Still, there was enough plot to carry the 90-minute film.
Joe Cook was the star. The long-forgotten, Cook was a major star on Broadway. His nickname was "the one-man vaudeville" because he could sing, dance, do comedy, and perform a series of juggling tricks. Cook made his film debut in a 1929 talkie short called AT THE BALLGAME.
In RAIN OR SHINE he plays the fast-talking manager of a failing circus owned by a girl (Joan Peers) who inherited it from her father. Two employees are in cahoots to ensure the circus fails so they can take it over. In a weak subplot, Peers and her boyfriend (William Collier, Jr.) attend a disastrous dinner party at his snooty parents' mansion.
Cook is front and center through most of the film as he attends to all the problems and egos under the big top. There's also a funny running gag with Cook and a local citizen (Tom Howard) and how he becomes a partner with the help of the Princess (Louise Fazenda).
The finale is quite exciting after the bank attaches the day's receipts and the performers realize they won't get paid. Cook is terrific in a series of circus tricks as he tries to put on a big-top show all by himself. Peers and Collier are OK as the young lovers, Fazenda has little to do, Howard is funny as the local, and Dave Chasen (who founded the famous restaurant) is funny as the stooge.
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