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Twenty Million Sweethearts (1934)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical | 26 May 1934 (USA)
Unscrupulous agent Rush makes singing waiter Clayton a big radio star while Peggy, who has lost her own radio show, helps Clayton.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Rush Blake
...
Buddy Clayton
...
Peggy Cornell
The Mills Brothers ...
The Mills Brothers (as The Four Mills Bros.)
Ted Fio Rito and His Band ...
Orchestra
...
Pete
...
Chester A. Sharpe
Joseph Cawthorn ...
Herbert Brokman (as Joseph Cawthorne)
Joan Wheeler ...
Marge
Henry O'Neill ...
Lemuel Tappan
Johnny Arthur ...
Norma Hanson's Secretary
The Radio Rogues ...
Three Mimics (as The Three Radio Rogues)
Jimmy Hollywood ...
One of the Three Radio Rogues (as Jim Hollingwood)
Eddie Bartell ...
One of the Three Radio Rogues
Henry Taylor ...
One of the Three Radio Rogues
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Storyline

Unscrupulous agent Rush makes singing waiter Clayton a big radio star while Peggy, who has lost her own radio show, helps Clayton.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

26 May 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hot Air  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Screenwriter Julius J. Epstein first arrived in Hollywood about 10:30 p.m. on Otctober 14, 1933 and by midnight was collaborating on the screenplay of "Twenty Million Sweethearts" as pages had to be turned in early Monday morning. See more »

Connections

Referenced in And She Learned About Dames (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Out for No Good
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Sung by Ginger Rogers
Reprised by Dick Powell and The Mills Brothers
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User Reviews

The Man With the Golden Voice
15 December 2001 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

"Twenty Million Sweethearts" (First National, 1934), directed by Ray Enright, marked a new beginning from the earlier musicals released by Warners, changing the scenery from the Broadway theater with tap-dancing Busby Berkeley chorus girls to a radio station with musical interludes focusing only its singers and nothing else. The "sweethearts" as the title implies is in reference to the millions of female listeners and admirers to the new radio singer dubbed a couple of times in the story as "The Singing Romeo."

The story begins in Los Angeles where Russell "Rush" Blake (Pat O'Brien), a smooth talking talent scout for Consolidated Broadcasting, with a reputation of discovering such great entertainers as Russ Columbo and Bing Crosby, is dining at Perry's Brass Rail, a beer garden, where he comes across Buddy Clayton (Dick Powell), a singing water. After getting Clayton fired from his job, Rush makes amends by getting him to return to New York City with him on the promise of a singing career on the radio. As Rush is making arrangements for an audition, Clayton strolls through the radio station and encounters Peggy Cornell (Ginger Rogers), the "Cinderella Girl," who takes an instant dislike towards him for making funny faces on the glass window as she is trying to sing. Later, Clayton goes on with his audition, but fails, thus, no contract negotiations. With the help of Peggy, who now likes him, she succeeds into getting Clayton a second chance when it is realized that Clayton could put it over better with love songs. He goes on the air and becomes a success. With Buddy and Peggy now in love, it is up to Rush to prevent the couple from getting married so that Clayton can go on with his successful radio career, which then causes plenty of problems.

With music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, the songs featured include: "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (traditional circus song sung by Dick Powell); "The Last Wind-Up" (sung by Eddie Foster, Billy Snyder, Matt Brooks and Morris Goldman); "Yes, I Heard" (sung by The Mills Brothers); "Out for No Good" (sung by Ginger Rogers); "How Am I Doing?" (The Mills Brothers); "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" (reprise by Powell); "I'll String Along With You," "I'll String Along With You" (reprise, both sung by Powell); "Fair and Warmer" (Powell); "Out for No Good" (Powell and The Mills Brothers); "Fair and Warmer" (instrumental by Ted Fio Rito and his Orchestra); "What Are Your Intentions?" (sung by The Debutantes and Ted Fio Rito); "I'll String Along With You" (Powell and Rogers) and "I'll String Along With You" (reprise by Powell). In the very opening of the movie, the camera focuses on various radio sets with the Three Radio Rogues, given screen credit for their unseen but heard performance, musically and comically doing their imitations of then popular radio stars of the day including Ben Bernie, Kate Smith, Arthur Tracy, Rudy Vallee, Amos and Andy, Joe Penner, Morton Downey and Bing Crosby.

"Twenty Million Sweethearts" is Warner Brothers answer to Paramount's radio musical satire, "The Big Broadcast" (1932), which also presented The Mills Brothers in song numbers, but didn't have the silliness that Paramount presented. "Sweethearts," a promotional showcase for Dick Powell, who was by then riding high in popularity in screen musicals, starts off well and funny, becomes mediocre somewhere in the middle but picks up again near the end. Although successful with its 1934 audiences, Warners reworked the plot element of "Sweethearts" again the following year with "Broadway Gondolier" (1935), with Joan Blondell, and using the same radio personalities as Ted Fio Rito and The Mills Brothers once more. Of the two, "Sweethearts" is better because of the chemistry between Powell and Rogers. The two had earlier appeared in two classic backstagers, "42nd Street" and "Gold Diggers of 1933" (both 1933), with Powell romancing Ruby Keeler, and Rogers in the supporting category as a wisecracking chorus girl. This time she not only keeps up with the wisecracks, but is elevated to Powell's co-star and succeeds as both singer and actress. Rogers would soon prove herself star material after becoming Fred Astaire's co-star and dancing partner in a series of successful musicals for RKO Radio throughout most of the Depression '30s.

The supporting cast of "Sweethearts" consists of character actors as the heavily accented Joseph Cawthorn; the hot-tempered but sophisticated Grant Mitchell; the simple-minded Henry O'Neill; the raspy-voiced Allen Jenkins as the star of a kiddie program; and everybody's male secretary, Johnny Arthur.

Portions of "Twenty Million Sweethearts" were reworked again by Warners with its Technicolor production of "My Dream is Yours" (1949) starring Jack Carson in the role originated by O'Brien, with Doris Day as the vocalist. The remake even includes the old tune of "I'll String Along With You," which, in spite of several reprises in the original, remains one of the best songs ever written for the musical screen.

"Twenty Million Sweethearts" is not available on video cassette at present, but can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The movie is of sole interest not only to Powell and Rogers fans, but to those curious about the atmosphere of the world of radio broadcasting way back when. (***1/2)


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