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Radio City Revels (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 11 February 1938 (USA)
A songwriter uses the songs one of his pupils writes while sleeping for his own contract.


(as Ben Stoloff)


(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Miller
Kenny Baker
Billie Shaw
Paul Plummer
Teddy Jordan
Gertie Shaw
Buster West ...
Melissa Mason ...
Marilyn Vernon ...
Delia Robin
Charles Coleman ...
The Butler (as Charles C. Coleman)
Don Wilson - Radio Station Announcer
Hal Kemp - Orchestra Leader


Washed-up songwriter Harry Miller and his neighbor, dancer Billie Shaw, are insolvent despite efforts to find work in radio. But Harry is visited by his "student," hillbilly Lester Robin, who can only write songs in his dreams. And lo! Lester's first nap yields a song hit for which Harry takes credit. But to fulfill his new contract, he needs to keep Lester sleeping, amidst romantic complications. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


LOOK WHO'S IN IT! (original poster- all caps) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 February 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Andam Canções no Ar  »

Box Office


$810,000 (estimated)


$510,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In March 1938, this film was being shown on a double bill with The Jury's Secret (1938) at Loew's Richmond Theatre in North Adams, Massachusetts. See more »


Harry Miller: We're gonna have yachts, motorcars, penthouses...
Teddy Jordan: Oh boy, don't forget a ham sandwich!
See more »


Referenced in The Lucy Show: Lucy Goes to a Hollywood Premiere (1966) See more »


Music by Allie Wrubel
Lyrics Herb Magidson
Sung briefly by Bob Burns (uncredited)
Sung by Jane Froman (uncredited) with Hal Kemp and His Orchestra (uncredited)
Danced by Ann Miller (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Good Cast But Bad Musical
28 July 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It has been awhile since I started watching old movies. When I started my love of classic Hollywood, there was no TCM buy luckily I had a dinosaur called the video tape recorder. Before TCM entered the airwaves, its sister channel TNT used to show old movies. It was there that I saw a mediocre musical called Radio City Revels.

The movie deals with two out-of-work songwriters in New York City, Harry Miller (Jack Oakie) and Teddy (Milton Berle), who live next door to sisters Billie (Ann Miller) and Gertie (Helen Broderick) Shaw, who used to tour in vaudeville and have been left stranded and income-less by its demise. Miller's and Teddy's only source of income is a correspondence course in songwriting that they've sold to exactly one student, Arkansas hillbilly Lester Robin (played by rustic comedian Bob Burns, who had enough of a reputation in 1938 he's actually given top billing).

Robin is frustrated because while he's awake he can only come up with songs other people already wrote (like an hilariously fractured version of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean") but when he's asleep he dreams the most beautiful — and original — melodies and lyrics, only to forget them when he wakes up. Miller and Teddy realize this unique talent and start transcribing Lester's nocturnal emissions, peddling them as their own and becoming star songwriters for the company owned by Paul Plummer (Victor Moore, even more annoyingly whiny than usual). The premise is so weird that at least one critic summed it up by saying it seemed as if the film's writers had been asleep when they came up with it.

The draw of the movie for me was the appearance of singer Jane Froman in a minor role. She played the vocalist for Hal Kemp's band. It is unfortunate that she did not have a bigger role, it might have helped the movie. Froman never had much of a movie career, but her voice was wonderful. Kenny Baker was the male vocalist in this opus. Baker got his start as the comic foil for Jack Benny on his radio show, and he left the Benny organization to make his way in film. Like Froman, Baker did not have much of a movie career either.

RKO spent some serious money on this movie — at least two of the numbers, including "There's a New Moon Over the Old Mill," are staged on splendiferous sets (the "Old Mill" number takes place on a beautiful white, stylized art deco mill and features four mill maids desperately waiting for male mates. Great comic actors like Victor Moore and Helen Broderick were features as second bananas in the film, but with no major stars it was hard to see who they would be second banana to.

It is utterly baffling who they thought the audience for it would be, and as it turned out there wasn't one: RKO spent $810,000 making Radio City Revels and lost $300,000 on it. The movie was not great, and it is mostly forgotten today, but the film is worth watching if it is just for the 1930s stars that the movie spotlighted...

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