Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
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After helping a numbskull graduate college, a nebbish blunders into a job running an amusement park. There he wards off a variety of con artists and other miscreants while he pursues a nightclub singer. Written by
The fifth and final movie of Broadway star Eddie Cantor's films for producer Sam Goldwyn's independent production company, it was considered the weakest by critics and fans at the time. Even Leonard Maltin gives this a low rating compared to the three stars (out of four) he gives to the other Cantor films. While certainly not as much of a classic, it is certainly entertaining enough to warrant study in this era of Adam Sandler/Jim Carrey comedys.
Always typecast as the scaredy cat milquetoast, Eddie Cantor continues in that mold here as a laundrymat employee who ends up becoming manager of an amusement park owned by a feisty little old lady (Helen Lowell). It seems that the previous managers have all met with fatal accidents thanks to a racket that wants to install pinball machines in the park against the old ladies wishes. When Cantor manages to show a little more verve in front of the old lady and her daughter (Sally Eilers, a sadly forgotten actress), he is offered position of manager of the park, and celebrates with his pal by visiting his favorite singer, Georgia (Ethel Merman) who flirts with him in order to get him to install the pinball machines for her gangster friends.
There are several memorable production numbers which use the Busby Berkley style flare for overhead shots previously used in the Cantor musicals which Berkley choreographed: "Whoopee"; "Palmy Days"; and "The Kid From Spain". Other choreographers took over the reigns for his last three Goldwyn pictures, and here, Roy Del Ruth gets the job. Cantor's "The Lady Dances" production number at the amusement park is very elaborate, although it is Merman's "Shake It Off With Rhythm" that stands out here especially with the dancer whos shadow in the well-polished nightclub floor does her own steps. And when the bevy of chorus girls (thanks to the obvious presence of other chorus girls beneath them) start a dance while sitting on the floor, the number goes into the Hollywood musical books as one of the wackiest production numbers in film history. Merman and Cantor also sing a duet while on a ferris wheel which shows them with old-age make-up. Audiences familiar with Merman's later Broadway, film, and TV appearances will find it amusing to see young Merman (then 27) in old lady disguise.
Merman also sings a torchy number (with chorus) at the beginning that is well photographed but not at all in the same league with her big number. The two big production numbers are topped by a riotous finale (later used in "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood") where Cantor tries to flee from the rackateers (one of whom is William Frawley, aka Fred Mertz) by escaping on a rollercoaster. Of course, all sorts of visual comedy takes place, turning it into a fast-moving and laugh-filled ending. There really isn't a lot of Merman here; She is more a red-herring in the plot than anything else. Helen Lowell, as the old lady, is a live action version of tweety bird's owner; All she is missing is the bird and cage. Parkyakarkus, a popular radio comedian at the time (who also had a brief movie career), is stupidly annoying, a stereotypical foreigner (apparently Greek) who lacks in too many brain cells to be a body guard. Fortunately, he pops in and out of the action so fast he doesn't have time to really become distracting from the wonderful Cantor.
While the film is certainly not a classic, it is enjoyable enough to give a few laughs and smiles thanks to the fine musical numbers. While comedy today is focusing on more sexually explicit gags for more shock value (chickens being used to humiliate the law and Hitler in hell in a tu-tu with a pineapple for a special decoration come instantly to mind in today's comedys), films like "Strike It Pink" focus on a gentler and less crude style to get their laughs. Hopefully, it will turn up on cable or on the late show where they still show old movies rather than infomercials, so today's film students or fans of classic comedy can get an opportunity to enjoy it.
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