Remote Control (1929). Drama. Directed and co-written by Clyde North. Co-written by Albert C. Fuller and Jack T. Nelson. 48th Street Theatre: 10 Sep 1929- Nov 1929 (79 performances). Cast: Dave Abrams, Patricia Barclay, Louise Barrett, Frank Beaston, Audrey Berry, Hobart Cavanaugh, Polly Clarke, Alice Davenport, Consuelo Flowerton, William Foran, William Honohan, Raleigh Kennedy, Donald Kirke, George Leach, Mimi Lehman, Lawrence Leslie, George Lessey (as "W.L. Oakwood"), Michael Markham, James V. Nolan, Claire Nolte, Al Ochs (as "Professor Murrey"), Arthur Pierson, Edward Van Sloan (as "Doctor A.P. Workman"), Harold Woolf. Produced by A.L. Jones and Morris Green. Note: Produced as a William Haines vehicle by MGM as Remote Control (1930) (released 15 Nov 1930). The characters' names were altered completely for the film and re-written as a comedy. See more »
Just a Little Closer
Written by Howard Johnson and Joseph Meyer
Sung by Charles King
Reprised by a girls' band at the benefit
Often played as background music See more »
This William Haines talkie is a fast-moving comedy that features the MGM star as a brash fast-talker trying to break into radio. He meets an old school chum (Charles King) who has a failing radio station. There is also a sister (Mary Doran) Haines is interested in. Haines holds open auditions to bolster the station's stable of talent. Unfortunately, a fake occultist (John Miljan) gets hired and uses the airwaves to pass coded information to his gang about burglaries and bank robberies.
Haines is breezy and very funny as Brennan. He was a unique talent in that he had the looks of a leading man but usually resorted to his "Silly Billy" antics, most of which look ad-libbed. He's a big goof having a ball making movies. In this one, we get the feeling that most of the scenes are "one-take" wonders. Haines mugs and ad-libs outlandishly as the other actors try to say their lines. Haines also breaks up twice in this film as other actors do their thing.
Among the auditioners is Benny Rubin, who likes to recite poetry ("Dangerous Dan McGrew") while wearing a cowboy suit (very effective on radio). But Rubin's schtick is a thick and comic Yiddish accent, so the poem comes out as "Dangerous Dan a Jew." Haines breaks up as Rubin does his routine. Later in the film, another auditioner, Roscoe Ates (a stuttering flute player) breaks up Haines as he pops up in a car window. It's like watching outtakes from "The Carol Burnett Show."
King has little to do after he sings his song, "Just a Little Closer." Doran seems an odd choice for a leading-lady role; she usually played hard-boiled types (as in "The Broadway Melody"). Miljan is solid as the crook. Polly Moran (hideously made up) has a few good scenes as the radio beauty expert. And Cliff Edwards, without his ukulele or a song, gets to do a hog-calling act.
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