Television viewer seeing this for the first time: Gee whiz, it's in black-and-white and was made in the 40's and is about crime and...Eureka!...another "noir" film is discovered. How about ... See full summary »
A burglar is recruited to aid the police in finding his kidnapped girlfriend, a lovely but impoverished flower girl. Meanwhile, a deranged Russian emigre has been claiming that his ward is ... See full summary »
Near the end of WW II, a member of the German underground (Martin Richter) escapes from the Gestapo and takes shelter at Hotel Berlin, where he meets Lisa Dorn, a sleek actress involved ... See full summary »
The S. S. Arcturus sails from Shanghai to San Francisco, and Dr. Jim Craig takes the post of ship's physician in order to be near Ann Grayson, the ship's nurse. Chief Engineer 'Crusher" ... See full summary »
Sam Gallagher (Pat O'Brien), a former foreign correspondent and now a United States Government agent, gets a job through his brother Jeff (Chester Morris), whom he has not seen in seven ... See full summary »
Nikki Martin, a parisian opera star, takes off in search of adventure and true-love leaving her arranged husband to be at the alter. While hitchhiking, Nikki meets handsome American ... See full summary »
Sylvia Smith and Dick Winters share a romantic kiss at a dance, but Sylvia is called away before Dick can learn her full name. Sylvia's father is about to lose his California hotel, the Casa Del Mar, thanks to the financial blundering of his new business partner J. Davis Bowster. The mortgage is held by eccentric heiress Carola P. Gaye, whose current fascination is with the ancient Greek-style eugenics championed by Prof. Hercules Dove. Carola plans to use the hotel as the center of her "Body Beauteous" selective mating program. Looking to raise funds with a collegiate musical show, Bowster gathers talent under the pretense of recruiting good-looking young people for Carola's eugenics experiment. Among the group are Dick Winters (still searching for his mystery girl) and Daisy Schloggenheimer (taught to resist male attention with physical force). Under strict orders to prevent any romance between the "guinea pigs", Bowster has great difficulty keeping the boys and the girls away from ... Written by
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. See more »
In Miss Gaye's car, Bowster is clasping his toga closed at his breast with his left hand in practically all of the close-ups. In long shots, his hand's in his lap. See more »
It's a Holiday on Laughs in a College of Dumb Clucks
It's easy to see why this film was put back in the vault decades ago: What begins as a half-hearted spoof of eugenics ends in an embarrassingly racist "minstrel show" that was no longer tolerable in the Civil Rights Era. That it should not have been tolerated even when it was made is why film is such an important reminder of our nation's moral and social journey. We've come a long way, baby, but we still got a long way to go. That said, there are three reasons for the Bold to tolerate this time capsule: Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen. All three were major stars of American radio at the time, although Hollywood clearly had little idea how to deal with them. Their radio characters were fairly well developed by 1936, especially Benny, whose weekly Sunday night Jell-O program remains widely available in excellent quality recordings on many Old Time Radio venues. Eight decades later they remain remarkably fresh and hilarious. I highly recommend them. Burns and Allen had a bit more trouble finding a format they liked, but even still, Gracie's non-sequitur banter, bounced off Burns' straight man persona, is equally timeless. Too bad Paramount did not allow the three to bring their radio writers along with them. Makers of the best films by the Marx Brothers, Paramount had just lost that trio to MGM, the biggest studio in town. Yet it retained Mae West and W.C. Fields. How they missed out on Benny, Burns and Allen is an enigma. The movie's "plot" is beyond explanation and as pointless as the jokes. No one has ever heard of the four main writers. The movie evidences why. Benny, supposedly a crooked partner or crooked hotel operator, stays amiable and light throughout the flick, but never achieves an actual laugh or presence. Gracie's name here is Calliope, as husband George tells her. She scientifically finds mates by being goosed by Ben Burns. No, that does not make sense, but it's as much of the plot as I care to recall. The over-aged "collegians" are a frighteningly Aryan bunch, mitigated only by their dumb faux-Busby Berkley routines. An underwater kiss scene reminds one of the far-racier and censored underwater swim scene made by Johnny Weissmuller and a Maureen O'Sullivan lookalike in 1934's Tarzan And His Mate. By 1936 the Code was in force. I confess I know blond boy lead Leif Erickson only through his latter-day TV cowboy gruff patriarch roles; strange to realize he was once young and pretty. This film is no uncovered gem; it is a faded relic studded by with three great comedians surrounded by paste. It is possibly Benny's worst. Not because of anything he does or doesn't do, but simply for lack of a good script. Ditto for George and Gracie. One side note: On their initial chariot ride to the college/hotel, Gracie gives George a "TL," a slang term one hears numerous times in OTL but has now been forgotten. George immediately unpacks it: "Oh, a trade last? A shared compliment?" So viewers learn two things: Our heroes will survive a bad movie, and a new old word.
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