An unimpressive but well intending man is given the chance to marry a popular actress, of whom he has been a hopeless fan. But what he doesn't realize is that he is being used to make the actress' old flame jealous.
Although he has never met her, Elmer Butts loves Hortense secretly and from afar. He dreams of making a million dollars so he can buy her a Rolls automobile and marry her. With prohibition apparently on the verge of ending, Elmer's friend Jimmy Potts gets an idea to make them both rich by opening a brewery just before the legalization of alcoholic beverages. Their timing is off, and the police raid them, but their inept brewing has created a beer with no alcohol, so they are let off. But it has also resulted in a cheaply made beer, and bootlegger Spike Moran realizes that he can vastly increase his profits by partnering with Elmer and Jimmy. But none of them reckons with the competitor, another bootlegger, gangster Butch Lorado. Butch has a girlfriend....Elmer's dream girl, Hortense. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Forgettable, but that's the worst you can say about it
"What! No Beer?" is often given a bad reputation due to the fact that it proved to be the final American film in which silent comedian Buster Keaton was given a starring role. As it is with his other MGM talkies, he plays a dull-witted character whose intelligence level ranges from absent-minded to borderline stupid, and the fact that he's obviously drunk in several scenes doesn't help any. For the third time in his MGM career, he's the straight man to the loud, fast-talking Jimmy Durante, a comedy team which baffles the mind to this day. The hit-and-miss jokes and incompatible comedy styles of the leading actors don't make for a good film by any means, however, it's not the travesty so many Keatonphiles make it out to be.
For one thing, it's miles ahead of Keaton's first MGM vehicle, "Free and Easy", a farce so unfunny it's painful to watch. Whenever Durante isn't in the frame shouting, there are a few touches of good visual humor and slapstick. And even Durante gets some funny lines in there. The set-up is solid and love interest Phyllis Barry shows off some glamorous Depression era costume.
Is it great? No. Is it all that memorable? Not really. But if you love Keaton or Durante, then you might like to see it if you've got nothing to do. Just don't expect a desire to revisit it anytime soon.
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