The original musical comedy opened on Broadway, New York City, New York, USA on 3 March 1930 and closed 3 January 1931 after 355 performances. The opening night cast included Bert Lahr, who originated his movie role in the play, and Kate Smith. George White, who produced the play, received credit in the film by virtue of his contract with MGM. See more »
This is the rarest of beasts - a musical comedy film from 1931. Hardly any were made in either 1931 and 1932 due to the bad reputation the earliest musicals had earned in 1929 and 1930. However, almost all of the American musical films made in 1931 and 1932 featured the choreography of Busby Berkeley, and indeed this one does too.
Pat O'Brien is the best known of the three stars here, but he basically plays a supporting role in this one, prior to his recruitment by Warner Bros. first as a smart guy in the precode era and then as a father figure after the code. Sport Wardall (O'Brien) rescues Rusty Krouse (Lahr) from a group of bullies. The two team up with Wardall looking for financial backing for Rusty's aerocopter, a flying machine that ascends straight up. Ultimately Wardall finds backing from homely but man-hungry waitress Pansy Potts (the lanky Charlotte Greenwood). Her fee for the needed five hundred dollars - marriage to Rusty sight unseen.
If you've seen Greenwood chasing Buster Keaton in "Parlor, Bedroom, and Bath" or Eddie Cantor in "Palmy Days" you've seen this act before, but it's always funny. What must have seemed very odd to the audiences of 1931 was Lahr's brand of humor. Here he is carrying on just exactly like the cowardly lion in "Wizard of Oz" right down to his voice and mannerisms, so modern audiences will probably not be put off by his performance since most people today are familiar with Lahr in that part.
I rate this 4/5 for fans of the early talkies and precodes, but if you are a modern film fan you just might not appreciate this one that much.
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