Shortly before the curtain goes up the first time at the latest performance of Earl Carroll's Vanities, someone is attempting to injure the leading lady Ann Ware, who wants to marry leading man Eric Lander. Stage manager in charge Jack Ellery calls in his friend, policeman Bill Murdock, to help him investigate. Bill thinks Jack if offering to let him see the show from an unusual view point, after he forgot to get him tickets for the performance, but then they find the corpse of a murdered women. Bill suspects Eric of the crime, especially, after the second female lead Rita Ross told him she saw the women leaving from Eric's room. Then Rita is shot onstage with Eric's gun. Jack and Bill decide not to stop the show, but Bill preparing to arrest Eric. Is he on the right track ? Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According the Kitty Carlisle in the documentary Complicated Women, when the "Sweet Marijuana" number was being filmed, she had no idea what marijuana was. She thought it was a Mexican musical instrument. See more »
A door to a dressing room is slammed, shattering a good portion of the mirror attached to the door. A moment later, when the door is opened, the breakage has changed so that part of the mirror is restored. See more »
[Contemptuously to Rita]
Listen, baby, blues singers like you are thicker than brunettes in Africa.
See more »
This murder mystery with musical numbers is long on atmosphere and character but rather short on suspense and plausibility. Based on a stage play by Broadway showman Earl Carroll and others, it combines a whodunit plot with a backstage ambiance (a homicide investigation takes place on opening night at the theatre where a musical revue is being staged).
The cast is impressive and varied: tough-goofy Victor McLaglen as the police officer who leads the investigation and never fails to leer idiotically at whatever showgirl happens to be in sight; Jack Oakie (the prewar Jack Lemmon or was Jack Lemmon the postwar Jack Oakie?) as the harassed director who must coordinate the staged performance as well as the chaos behind the scenes; the ever-homely Jessie Ralph as a wardrobe mistress with deep, dark secrets; Dorothy Stickney, who has a stunning close-up monologue near the end, as the tremulous maid madly in love with the male lead; Carl Brisson, the Danish star, as that very male lead, warbling the classic "Cocktails for Two" not once but twice; Kitty Carlisle, operatically delivering "Where Do They Come from and Where Do They Go" and other Johnston-Coslow songs; the glorious Gertrude Michael, who parted from us too soon, as a mean-spirited showgirl whose love for Brisson is spurned; the usually ridiculous Toby Wing who here at least is the center of a laugh-getting running joke.
When the plot complications get out of hand there is always an interesting performer or fun and tuneful musical number to distract the viewer. The film's most celebrated sequence is the "Marahuana" number, led by Michaels, but aside from its controversial history, it's really one of the lesser musical offerings. All of the songs here are staged as if they could actually have fit into a standard proscenium theatre space, as opposed to the cinematic fantasy setup of the Busby Berkeley style.
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