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William Butler Reynolds is slated to inherit ten-million dollars on his 21st birthday, but his worldly uncle, F. Carstairs Reynolds, thinks the lad could use a bit of seasoning before that happens. He sends him to New York City with the purpose of the trip to acquaint him with the pitfalls and wicked ways of the big city, especially for young millionaires. The uncle, who believes there is safety in numbers, also assigns, and pays well, three Follies girls,Jacqueline, Maxine and Pauline, to oversee the lad's tutoring. In the interest of ensuring the boy is well-tutored, Alma McGRegor and Cleo Carewe volunteer their services. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that many experienced tutors on the job. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Though the story is set in New York, the scenes in a dance montage include Los Angeles city hall. See more »
"Safety In Numbers" makes you wonder if Buddy Rogers' career would have gained more momentum had it been filmed in, say, 1934-5, after the clunkiness of early sound-on-film technology had been ironed out. This was clearly meant to be a showcase for Rogers, and he certainly makes the most of his musical opportunities, singing in every number except "You Appeal To Me." Come to think of it, NOBODY sings "You Appeal To Me," because Carole Lombard could not sing, choosing instead to speak the lyrics over the orchestral accompaniment. But Rogers zips through his songs, even playing the drums and piano at one point, not to mention a wicked trombone solo during "The Pick-Up." The only problem seems to be whether or not Rogers is meant to be a libertine or a sweet guy - clearly his uncle imagines him to be a jazz-and-sex crazed rogue, but Rogers' sweet pan and wholesome, charming personality suggest nothing more decadent than a high school football captain slightly intoxicated on grandma's elderberry wine.
Regardless, the film is a risqué romp through an early Depression garden of opportunities to see young women in their underthings for extended periods of time (Rogers ingenuously asks one of the girls what a bra is - she answers: "A ping-pong net." He deadpans: "I love ping-pong.") It's difficult to tell Carole Lombard and Josephine Dunn apart in long shot, but up close (and when they opens their mouths), it's clear that Lombard had an edge on Dunn in terms of comedy and timing. Both Dunn and Crawford were forgotten by the mid-thirties; the former's blandness and the latter's staginess probably did nothing to contribute to their longevity.
Credit goes to George Marion Jr.'s lyrics - he is one of the more obscure Tin Pan Alley lyricists, but I always find his words snappy, literate, and loaded with internal rhymes and fresh ideas (ridiculous as "A Bee in Your Boudoir" might be, it's a clever song that sticks in your head).
If you can find the film, give it a whirl, for the sake of Buddy Rogers, a half dozen great songs, and a look at the "naughty" musical cinema of the Depression before the Code crackdown in mid-1934.
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