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Chatterbox (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 17 January 1936 (USA)
Jenny has always been fascinated with the stage, especially since her mother was a famous actress. She learns that a theatrical company is putting on the play that included her mother's ... See full summary »


(as George Nicholls Jr.)


(play), (screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Uriah Lowell
Erik Rhodes ...
Mr. Archie Fisher
Emily 'Tippie' Tipton
Granville Bates ...
Allen Vincent ...
Mr. Harrison
Lillian Temple
George Offerman Jr. ...
Michael Arbuckle
Maxine Jennings ...


Jenny has always been fascinated with the stage, especially since her mother was a famous actress. She learns that a theatrical company is putting on the play that included her mother's most famous role. She leaves home to join the company. The trouble is, she doesn't realize that the producers consider the moth-eaten play high camp, while Jenny is taking the whole thing seriously. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance






Release Date:

17 January 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Anjo da Ribalta  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Henry Brandon was in a Hollywood Reporter production chart as a cast member (listed as Henry Kleinbach), but he was not in the film. See more »


Referenced in Wanderlust (2006) See more »


Oh! Susanna
Written by Stephen Foster
Played on a banjo in the New York show and sung by the maid
See more »

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User Reviews

Life Upon the Wicked Stage
19 November 2005 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

CHATTERBOX (RKO Radio, 1936), directed by George Nichols Jr., is a simple-minded little tale about a naive young teenager's inspiration in fulfilling her dream by becoming a stage actress against the wishes of her grandfather, only to learn the full meaning of life not really imitating art. The teenager in question is Anne Shirley, a young and prominent contract player for RKO Radio whose career specialized in playing such wholesome characters as presented in CHATTERBOX. As much as this sort of characterization might display her to contemporary viewers as a weak sister, she is, in fact, strong-willed without losing her feminine charm.

Inspired by Shirley's early characterization, which began with ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (RKO, 1934), where she was more of a chatterbox than she was in this production, Shirley does bring forth her titled-role in its early stages of the story as a lonely teenager whose only pleasure is constantly talking to anyone who would listen to her. Blending in the elements of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (1934 - the talkative teenager) with Al Jolson in THE JAZZ SINGER (1927 - going against family authority by doing what she feels she's meant to do, and forbidden to return home) and Katharine Hepburn in MORNING GLORY (1933 - taking her profession so seriously that members of the troupe secretly regard her as goofy), the duration of the story concerns Jenny Yates (Anne Shirley), wanting to carry on the tradition of her deceased mother, an actress many years ago. She hopes to attend the upcoming presentation of the Village Players revival of "Virtue's Reward" (which her mother had appeared) being presented at the Hale Barn Theater. She is forbidden by Uriah, her grandfather (Edward Ellis) who warns her that once she steps out that door, like her mother, it will be locked to her forever. After she does leave home, Uriah has a change of heart and leaves the door unlocked, only to have it closed by their handyman, Michael Arbuckle (George Offerman Jr.) who does it in spite since Jenny knows enough about Michael, ranging from missing articles to the accidental burning of their barn, to get him fired. Jenny does return home only to find the door locked. With no other place to go, she hides inside the rumble seat of a car belonging to Philip Green (Phillips Holmes), a struggling young artist on his way to New York. After he arranges for Jenny in obtaining the lead role in "Virtue's Reward," reality sets in once she steps foot upon that wicked stage.

While Anne Shirley's presence makes the film, she's not in every scene. There are moments when time allows Uriah (Ellis) and Philip Green Sr. (Granville Bates) to brag about their ancestors, but on the whole, there are others in the cast worthy of honorable mention. Erik Rhodes, famous for his comedic Italian characters in two Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals (THE GAY Divorcée and TOP HAT), plays it straight as Archie Fisher, director of the theatrical troupe. Then there's Margaret Hamilton, three years before immortalizing herself as the Wicked Witch in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), as "Tippy," a sympathetic landlady, once an actress herself, whose one-on-one talk with Jenny about the realities of theatrical life comes across realistically and sincere; and a very young and blonde Lucille Ball, as a temperamental stage actress who wants nothing more than to get her back salary.

CHATTERBOX, a feel good movie that says it all in its brief 68 minutes, is one of many Anne Shirley movies produced during that time to be overlooked and forgotten due to lack of television revivals. Formerly shown on American Movie Classics during its early years during the 1980s to 1993, it can be seen whenever possible on Turner Classic Movies (at one point in time was shown as part of a viewer's request night), and available on video cassette through a private collector. Film buffs, take note: the title, CHATTERBOX, was later used for a 1943 comedy for Republic Studios starring Judy Canova and Joe E. Brown, which can stir up come confusion whenever found in the TV listings. While the premise to CHATTERBOX is basically a story much to the liking of teenage girls, it does win the appeal of others as well. (**1/2)

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