6.3/10
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16 user 12 critic

Search for Beauty (1934)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Romance | 2 February 1934 (USA)
Three con artists dupe two Olympians into serving as editors of a new health and beauty magazine which is only a front for salacious stories and pictures.

Director:

Writers:

(story), (story) (as Maurine Watkins) | 5 more credits »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Don Jackson (as Larry 'Buster' Crabbe)
...
Barbara Hilton
...
...
...
Sally Palmer
...
...
Joe Garrett
...
Rev. Rankin
...
Miss Pettigrew
...
Mrs. Archibald Henderson-James
...
Adolph Knockler
James B. 'Pop' Kenton ...
Caretaker (as 'Pop' Kenton)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Newspaper Reporter (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Three shady characters - Larry, Jean, and Dan - want to make money legally by resuscitating a fitness magazine with cheesecake and beefcake photos and salacious stories with tacked-on morals. They hire two recent Olympic champions as editors to give legitimacy: Barbara Hilton, an English diver, and Don Jackson, a U.S. swimmer. When Jackson and Hilton object to the magazine's contents, they send him on a worldwide search for beauty, for youthful paragons of fitness. When Barbara and Don want out of the partnership to start their own fitness farm, the trio hatches a plan to bilk the kids. Can Barbara and Don avoid being conned or will a femme fatale undo their partnership? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 February 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Conquista da Beleza  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It was released on DVD 7 April 2009 as part of the Universal Backlot Series: Pre-Code Hollywood Collection. See more »

Quotes

Larry Williams: [to Dan] It's rainin' soup, boy! Throw away your fork and get a spoon!
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Crazy Credits

With the 30 winners in the International Beauty Contest

chosen from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the United States. See more »

Connections

References Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm a Seeker of Beauty
(uncredited)
Music by Arthur Johnston
Lyrics by Sam Coslow
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jaw-dropping, good-natured pre-code antics
17 November 2005 | by See all my reviews

You really have to see this one to believe it! Not many movies flaunt their pre-code liberty so blatantly and lightheartedly (not unlike the Busby Berkeley extravaganza "Gold Diggers of 1933"). At the same time, it's very successful in its own right as a fast-paced comedy satirizing health-product hucksters and wealthy debauchees.

Inspired by the L.A. Olympics, a trio of con artists lure some prize-winning athletes into endorsing their newly-acquired fitness magazine. They stage an international publicity stunt to find the healthiest young bodies in the English-speaking world. While the athletes are out scouting for specimens, the three rogues turn the magazine into a lurid cheesecake rag (their lascivious board of censors is a hoot). This spins off into a health farm, which they try to turn into a high-priced knocking shop for Hollywood swells out to exploit eager young talent.

As the con artists, Robert Armstrong and James Gleason have plenty of fancy, word-mangling patter. And Gertrude Michael holds her own, needling them mercilessly, as well as slinkily seducing all-American hero Buster Crabbe. Crabbe practically plays himself, while an unrecognizable bleached-blonde Ida Lupino is his pert female British counterpart.

Not only are the dialog and situations pretty risqué, but there are plenty of suggestive visuals. Michaels enthusiastically ogles Crabbe's crotch through binoculars; there's a shower scene with bare-assed young men flitting about, and a production number which has the busty and muscled contest winners bouncing around in tight outfits, simulating Olympic events (male and female flesh are flaunted equally in this film). Berkeley favourite Toby Wing has a plumb role as Lupino's fun-loving underage cousin, who almost suffers a fate worse than death at the climactic wild party (not that the filmmakers seem to be too worried about it!). Lupino has to save her by taking her place in a grinding table-dance. Skinny Gleason, in jogging shorts, provides a very low-comedy fade-out gag.

Modern viewers will guffaw at the naive concept that health-conscious athletes would rather stop an orgy than join in. And like most 1930s Paramount films, the set direction is marvellous (just check out Armstrong's dowdy office!).

Even if you can only find a jittery video transfer, it's well worth checking this one out. More Paramount Olympic satire can be found in "Million Dollar Legs" (1932 version), and the magazine-exploitation angle was revived for the Don Knotts extravaganza "The Love God?".


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