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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.



(original story), (original story) | 4 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Eddie / Oedipus
Slave Girls
Empress Agrippa
Jack Rutherford ...
Manius (as John Rutherford)
Warren Finley Cooper
Lee Kohlmar ...


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


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 December 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escândalos Romanos  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (edited)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Wide Range Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The chorus girls - among them Lucille Ball - chained to the wall in the "No More Love" number are actually nude. The number was filmed during the night, when no studio bosses were around on the lot, with a minimum of technicians involved. See more »


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 »


[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 »


Referenced in Busby Berkeley: Going Through the Roof (1998) See more »


Kickin' the Gong Around
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Harold Arlen
Lyrics by Ted Koehler
Partially Sung a cappella by Eddie Cantor
See more »

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User Reviews

Eddie's "Roman"tic Dream
13 September 2002 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

ROMAN SCANDALS (Samuel Goldwyn, 1933), directed by Frank Tuttle, is the fourth of the annual Eddie Cantor/Samuel Goldwyn musicals of the Depression thirties, and one of their comedic best. Inspired by the recent success to Will Rogers's version to Mark Twain's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE (Fox, 1931), this adaptation relies not on classic literature, but on its own original screenplay and comic supplements, compliments of George S. Kaufman and Robert E. Sherwood.

In the basic storyline, Eddie Cantor stars as Eddie (no last name given), a good natured character of West Rome, Oklahoma, liked by so many. When Warren Finley Cooper (Willard Robertson), a corrupt politician, evicts a group of citizens from their homes in favor of building a jail, Eddie talks out of turn is forced to leave town. After being escorted across the border, Eddie, who happens to be an enthusiast about ancient Roman history, falls asleep on the side of the road and dreams himself back to the real Rome. While in ancient Rome, he encounters corrupt politicians headed the evil Emperor Valerius (Edward Arnold), and finds himself sold as a slave to Josephus (David Manners), who turns out he's rather have Eddie as a friend than a slave. On the romantic side, Josephus falls in love with the beautiful Princess Sylvia (Gloria Stuart), who becomes prisoner to the Emperor Valerius. Valerius has a wife, Agrippa (Verree Teasdale), who pleasures herself into poisoning her husband's food in hope to someday become a Merry Widow, but the Emperor is ahead of the game by hiring taste testers who drop dead after eating an unhealthy meal. Eddie is later hired for the job, but it would be more worthy for him to go on a starvation diet instead. After about an hour or so of ancient Roman dreams, the story reaches its climax with a hilarious chariot chase sequence.

Also seen in Eddie's dream is legendary torch singer Ruth Etting as Olga. In spite of Etting's name billed second in the opening credits,her performance is on a limited scale, highlighted mostly by a song rendition at an auction gallery of slave girls. Aside from Dorothy's Technicolored dream in THE WIZARD OF OZ (MGM, 1939), Eddie's dream not only remains in black and white, but becomes a lavish scale spectacle with high comedy score composed by Harry Warren and Al Dubin (on loan from Warner Brothers), featuring: "Build a Little Home" (the score that opens and closes the movie/ as sung by Eddie Cantor); "No More Love" (sung by Ruth Etting, danced by The Goldwyn Girls, solo dance by Grace Poggi); "Keep Young and Beautiful," "Put a Tax on Love" and a reprise of "Build a Little Home" (all sung by Cantor).

With a large cast, only a few are noted in the opening credits. Aside from Alan Mowbray and Lee Kohlmar as the surviving names on the list, the ones receiving no screen credit are Jane Darwell as the beauty saloon manager in Ancient Rome; Charles C. Wilson as a police chief in modern Rome; Stanley Fields as the slave auctioneer; with Paul Porcasi and Harry Holman. Look for midget Billy Barty appearing briefly as the shrunken Eddie in one scene. Among the Goldwyn Girls, there are many, but the one of main interest today is Lucille Ball, in her movie debut. She can be spotted several times throughout the story.

While the entire movie plays mostly for laughs, the "No More Love" production number, directed by Busby Berkeley, is actually the only serious moment in the story. For Berkeley's choreography, in this production, they're not up to his usual standards. Only "No More Love" has the Berkeley trademark, facial closeups of dancing slave beauties, though nothing really spectacular, with the exception of the lavish sets and costumes that make this look more like a Cecil B. DeMille epic.

ROMAN SCANDALS at 93 minutes presents Eddie Cantor at his prime, risqué dialog, slapstick comedy, vaudeville-type pratfalls, and a dream sequence only Hollywood could dream up. A forerunner to Zero Mostel's A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1966), along with a run-on gag with a plate of poisoned food that echoes the Danny Kaye comedy from THE COURT JESTER (1955).

During the early years of cable television, this, along with other Cantor/Goldwyn collaborations, were featured on the Nostalgia Channel, Turner Network Television (TNT) and last seen on American Movie Classics during the 1993-94 season. Long unseen on any television in recent years, ROMAN SCANDALS has also become one of the few surviving Cantor/Goldwyn musicals of the 1930s to remain available on video cassette.

ROMAN SCANDALS may be of sole interest today mainly for I LOVE LUCY fans to try and spot a very young Lucille Ball as one of the extras, but if not for that, watch it for its broad comedy, which has been imitated many times in later years by future film and TV comics, and may continue to do so as long as ROMAN SCANDALS remains available for viewing and film study. (***)

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