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Roman Scandals (1933)

Unrated | | Comedy, Fantasy, Musical | 29 December 1933 (USA)
A kind-hearted young man is thrown out of his corrupt home town of West Rome, Oklahoma. He falls asleep and dreams that he is back in the days of olden Rome, where he gets mixed up with court intrigue and a murder plot against the Emperor.

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Writers:

(original story), (original story) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Eddie / Oedipus
...
Slave Girls
...
Olga
...
...
...
...
Empress Agrippa
...
Majordomo
Jack Rutherford ...
Manius (as John Rutherford)
...
Warren Finley Cooper
Lee Kohlmar ...
Storekeeper
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Storyline

A kind-hearted young man is thrown out of his corrupt home town of West Rome, Oklahoma. He falls asleep and dreams that he is back in the days of olden Rome, where he gets mixed up with court intrigue and a murder plot against the Emperor.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 December 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escândalos Romanos  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Wide Range Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Lucille Ball. See more »

Goofs

On commonly available reissue prints of this film all the cast and credits are reprinted, with the following spelling errors: Songwriter Al Dubin's surname is spelled Dublin. Chariot sequence director Ralph Ceder's surname is spelled Cedar. Actress Verree Teasdale's first name is spelled Veree. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Mayor of West Rome: As mayor of West Rome, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you and to introduce our first citizen, Warren Fenwick Cooper!
Warren F. Cooper: Thank you, mayor. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Heh, heh, you see I know my Roman history.
See more »


Soundtracks

Dinah
(1925) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Akst
Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
Partially Sung a cappella by Eddie Cantor
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User Reviews

 
Sexy, Funny Classical Eddie Cantor Romp That takes Him to Ancient Rome
14 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

What needs to be understood about this entertainment film is that it is a revue. The 'hook" for its use of the time-travel gimmick, forward or in this case backward, which it helped to inspire for years to come is a parallel drawn by the authors between a corrupt West Rome, Oklahoma and the governors of ancient Rome's empire. The bridge between the two is opened in the mind of Eddie, played with verve and charisma by Eddie Cantor. In this the most lavish of his four 1930s musicals, with choreography by Busby Berkeley, Cantor imagines himself back in ancient Rome, where he uncovers corruption similar to his own small town's problems. In this musical comedy enlivened by Berkeley, with story and gags by George S. Kaufman, Nat Perrin and and Robert Emmet Sherwood among others, Eddie first finds bribery going on by a developer who wants to build a new jail, dispossessing many residents in the midst of the great Depression. As a result of his protests, after singing a song, Eddie is thrown out of town by police. He then finds himself inexplicably in ancient Rome, and after insulting the Empress, he is condemned to be sold as a slave. Narrowly escaping the clutches of an amorous hag, he is bought by Josephus, handsome David Manners, who wants him as a friend, not a slave. Meanwhile, the Emperor Valerius's favorite, played by Ruth Etting, is being sold away. This leads to the magnificent "No More Love" number involving naked girls covered only by long tresses chained to huge pillars and a Berkeley dance number involving a symbolic slave-girl dancer who plunges from the top of a huge staircase at the end of the number. Meanwhile, the story continues. The four strands involved are Josephus's love for a Princess (Gloria Stuart), Eddie falling afoul of Roman mores, the Empress Agrippina, Verree Teasdale, trying to poison her philandering husband, played with award-level gusto by Edward Arnold, and Valerius pursuing Sylvia (Stuart). Josephus has renamed Eddie "Oedipus"; an hilarious sequence involves "lava gas" being administered to Eddie, then to the royal torturers and finally the Emperor. The Emperor wants Olga back, but still has time to pursue Sylvia. Josephus tries to free both Eddie and Sylvia when the Emperor takes them but is rebuffed. Sylvia agrees to be taken to the palace--to remain there until she falls in love with Valerius-- if he will leave her people unpunished. Then the imperial food taster dies--Agrippina's work, of course; and Eddie gets the job. By this time he has introduced several U.S. vices including crooked dice into ancient Rome. Agrippina summons Eddie to her couch and tells him she wants to poison Valerius. As a precaution, Valerius banishes his rival Josephus who decides to wait for Sylvia, to be spirited away to him, in his chariot. After some tribulations with the palace's majordomo, Alan Mowbray, Eddie gets the message he's been given to Sylvia. After another song in the women's quarters, Eddie finds out about corruption involving Valerius and two senators--a parallel to the West Rome chicanery. Agrippina then warns Eddie not to eat the night's dinner, which he feeds to the royal crocodile. The Empress puts the blame for the animal's demise onto Josephus and Sylvia; Josephus takes Sylvia away in his chariot, and after being condemned to be thrown to the lions himself, Eddie escapes and tries to catch them, to prevent Josephus's being killed at the port of Ostia. After a memorably and funny chariot chase, Cantor wakes up in the U.S. again; and there is a bribe to the police chief as evidence of the wrongdoing he had claimed in his pocket. The satire ends happily, but not without having raised disturbing parallels between republicans' poisoning of the federal reserve and US corruption and the statism of Rome's authoritarian emperors. The piece is a satire from beginning to end, with elements of comedy, drama, parody and song. it is a difficult sort of film to do well, I assert; and to expect this to be any one sort of offering is to fail to comprehend its purpose. This is a thinking-man's light-entertainment, nothing more and a great deal more than less. Girls in revealing costumes, an escapist look at Roman parallels, some delightful actors, a few songs and several spectacular sequences; this was entertainment in the 1930s and for those willing to enjoy it on its own terms, as pure fun, it still is. Every time-travel comedy made since "A Connecticut Yankee" of 1931 and this film owes a great deal to the inspiration of both, but especially I suggest to "Roman Scandals". Frank Tuttle directed this fast-paced and sumptuous romp. The cinematography was by Ray June and Gregg Toland, with costumes by John W. Harkrider, and difficult art direction was provided by Richard Day. Alfred Newman did the music, Harry Warren the original songs. In the cast, Arnold and Teasdale are wonderful, the young leads are attractive throughout and Alan Mowbray delightful in a comedic turns. There are several important actors in small parts including Jane Darwell, Lucille Ball and Billy Barty. With an updated score, I suggest this seminal musical could be successfully remade; but the hard part would be to remove the Eddie Cantor contribution, which was as much a pattern for future comedic talents such as Lou Costello and Jerry Lewis as it was intrinsic to the fun of the production. This Samuel Goldwyn opus may be a trifle pretentious here and there, but not one moment of it I suggest is ever dull.


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