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President Franklin Roosevelt appoints a theatrical producer as the new Secretary of Amusement in order to cheer up an American public still suffering through the Depression. The new secretary soon runs afoul of political lobbyists out to destroy his department. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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STAND UP AND CHEER (Fox, 1934), directed by Hamilton MacFadden, features Warner Baxter as Lawrence Cromwell, a Broadway producer who is appointed by the U.S. president as secretary of amusement to rid the country of the Depression blues. Madge Evans co-stars as Cromwell's secretary, Mary Adams, and Arthur Byron as John Hartly, a corrupt politician who wants to keep the Depression going so he can stay in political power, but fails in trying to bribe Cromwell to give up his position.
An enjoyable Depression musical which reflects upon the people and the times, is noted virtually as a Shirley Temple movie. With Baxter and Evans enjoying more screen time, Temple, with her limitations to the plot, became an overnight sensation playing little Shirley Dugan, daughter to song and dance man, Jimmy Dugan (James Dunn). The musical numbers in STAND UP AND CHEER do not play for the audiences in the movie (there are none), but mainly to its viewers. The song and dance appears during the course of the story, beginning with Dick (billed Nick) Foran coming out of a front page newspaper as Baxter and Evans read the headlines, and singing "I'm Laughing," later sung by a cross-country of citizens, and concluding with Aunt Jemima (Tess Gardella) and chorus. Next comes "Baby, Take a Bow" performed by Dunn, a chorine, and Temple; "Broadway's Gone Hillbilly" (sung by Sylvia Froos and chorus); "She's Way Up Thar" (sung by John "Skins" Miller); "This Is Our Last Night Together" (an audition number, sung by John Boles and Sylvia Froos); and the big parade march of happy Americans singing "We're Out of the Red" (introduced by Foran as the Paul Revere bearer of good news on a horse riding across the sky).
As many classic movies in recent years have been nearly restored to its original length, such as the 1933 classic, KING KONG, for example, STAND UP AND CHEER seems to have never played in its entirety on television since the 1960s, and currently is the victim of further butchery. While the Stepin Fetchit segment, in which he encounters a penguin dressed, acting and talking like Jimmy Durante, has been restored, other scenes have been deleted, making the print in circulation since 1984 choppy and confusing. There's one scene in the story in which Baxter says "No" to Fetchit before hearing what he has to say. The violent gags of comedy team of Mitchell and Durant as U.S. senators are either trimmed or completely cut out. I was fortunate to have watched the complete version of STAND UP AND CHEER at a revival theater in New York City in the 1980s. Scenes missing from current prints are Aunt Jemima's introduction to "I'm Laughing," and Nick Foran's introduction to the finale, "We're Out of the Red." 'Skins' Miller, billed as the hillbilly, seen looking for a gal named Sally, bursting into song, "She's Way Up Thar," while Fetchit is out in the mountains with a butterfly net hired to get a hillbilly by Dinwiddie (Nigel Bruce), is completely gone. The closing cast credits is shown on screen in freeze frame and ends abruptly. Originally presented in theaters at 80 minutes, it can now be seen on video cassette (sometimes colorized) and on TV at the 69 minute length. A pity, because those seeing this for the first time today will think this is how it was presented to 1934 audiences, and it wasn't.
STAND UP AND CHEER, which formerly played on American Movie Classics from 1996 to 2001, can be seen once in a while on the Fox Movie Channel. While no great masterpiece, this is one movie that deserves restoration to its original 80 minute length to be fully appreciated. (**1/2)
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