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The Hollywood Doubles,
Ed Smalle's Octet
A dying millionaire instructs his lawyer to drop four purses on the streets of New York City. Four honest people find them and return them to the lawyer. Under the terms of the will, each of them is given $1,000,000, which they must double within 30 days in order to claim his entire estate. However, the greedy relatives cut from the will are determined to thwart each one's plans. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
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 »
Twenty Five wallets with a hundred dollar bill and the business card of a lawyer's office are dropped around a city. Only four people find those wallets and go to the attorney's office to return them.
They don't know it, but the four honest ones have just entered a sweepstakes of sorts. According to the terms of a will by an eccentric millionaire, these four are given five thousand dollars and are given a month to double it. The first one who does becomes the heir to a fortune. Otherwise the money goes to the deceased's brother, Samuel S. Hinds and his family.
When the four people are Bing Crosby, Andy Devine, Martha Raye, and William Frawley you just look at the billing to see who will be the winner. But you are in for an enjoyable ride along the way to see who wins and to see Bing get the girl who in this case was his most frequent screen partner of the 1930s, Mary Carlisle.
In the 1930s rich people on screen were either kind and beneficent or were like Samuel S. Hinds, worth millions themselves and wanting more. They weren't called robber barons for nothing. Hinds and his family which include wife Fay Holden, and offspring Mary Carlisle and William Henry all throw big roadblocks into the paths of our intrepid would be heirs.
Another reviewer mentioned that casting Samuel S. Hinds as the unscrupulous businessman was offbeat. Hinds, who's best known on screen as George Bailey's father Peter in It's A Wonderful Life, gave a good account of himself here in a change of pace. Equally offbeat though was Fay Holden, best known as Andy Hardy's mother who is equally good in aiding and abetting Hinds's nefarious schemes.
Paramount gave some good songs for Crosby to sing. The biggest hit out of this film was The Moon Got In My Eyes which sold a few 78 platters back in the day. But in the staging of them, they were light years behind MGM and Warner Brothers during the thirties. In fact one of the songs, All You Want to Do Is Dance, the staging is a total ripoff of what MGM had done a year earlier in Born to Dance with James Stewart and Eleanor Powell singing and dancing to Cole Porter's Easy to Love. Crosby's other two numbers, Smarty and It's the Natural Thing to Do, suit his style perfectly.
Bing Crosby's Rhythm on the Range had introduced Martha Raye to the screen a year earlier and she repeated her brand of wackiness here. She pairs off nicely against Andy Devine, their styles contrast each other well.
William Frawley showed up in several Crosby pictures at Paramount, most notably in Going My Way as the music publisher who buys Father O'Malley's "mule". He also guested a couple of times on Bing's radio show, Kraft Music Hall. Offscreen Frawley was a mean, nasty, misanthropic drunk who eventually alienated one and all in Hollywood. He was on his uppers when Desi Arnaz rescued him to play neighbor Fred Mertz in his new series I Love Lucy. Probably extended Frawley's life as well as career.
Double Or Nothing is a great example of a vehicle that Paramount asked Bing Crosby to carry on the strength of his not inconsiderable charm. Backed by a good cast of supporting players, he does so here with one hand tied behind his back. Bing was up to more challenging material and gradually he got it.
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