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Swing Your Lady (1938)

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Promoter Ed Hatch comes to the Ozarks with his slow-witted wrestler Joe Skopapoulos whom he pits against a hillbilly Amazon blacksmith, Sadie Horn. Joe falls in love with her and won't ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank McHugh ...
Penny Singleton ...
Ollie Davis
Mrs. Davis (as Elviry)
Jack Miller
Daniel Boone Savage ...
Hugh O'Connell ...
Tommy Bupp ...
Sonny Bupp ...
Len (as Sunny Bupp)
Joan Howard ...


Promoter Ed Hatch comes to the Ozarks with his slow-witted wrestler Joe Skopapoulos whom he pits against a hillbilly Amazon blacksmith, Sadie Horn. Joe falls in love with her and won't fight. At least not until Sadie's beau Noah shows up. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Music | Romance | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 January 1938 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Adapted from a Broadway play by Kenyon Nicholson and Charles Robinson. The original stage production opened at the Booth Theatre in New York on October 18, 1936 and ran for 105 performances. The opening night cast included John Alexander, Walter Baldwin, Hope Emerson, Matt McHugh and Dennie Moore. See more »


Ed Hatch: Joe Skipapoulos, the ponderous pachyderm of grunt and groan, the Greek Hercules, is the next heavyweight champion of the world!
See more »


Featured in Breakdowns of 1938 (1938) See more »


Oh! Susanna
(1848) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Played at the square dance
See more »

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Ricochet Romance
3 January 2009 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

SWING YOUR LADY (Warner Brothers, 1938), directed by Ray Enright, suggested from the play by Kenyon Nicholson and Charles Robinson, is not really a college musical of dancing co-eds doing the jitterbug to swing music, but actually a one-of-a-kind hillbilly comedy starring non-other than the legendary Humphrey Bogart. Bogey, who had made his mark on stage and screen playing gangster Duke Mantee in "The Petrified Forest," followed by other notable roles of promise as 1937's THE BLACK LEGION and DEAD END, up until now had not established himself to the popular leading man he was to become after 1941. In spite of active support working opposite the studio's own resident tough guys as James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson in its major productions, along with some leading roles in others, Bogey here plays it straight, leaving whatever laughs take place for the supporting players. With SWING YOUR LADY and THE RETURN OF DOCTOR X (1939) categorized as Bogey's worst films, regardless of their reputations, they are each on a watchable level. SWING YOUR LADY on the other hand, contains musical numbers with dance direction by Bobby Connelly and fine vocalization by a young brunette named Penny Singleton, formerly Dorothy McNulty, shortly before achieving fame as Chic Young's blonde comic strip character, Blondie, in a long series of successful films for Columbia (1938-1950). For now, SWING YOUR LADY, which looks more like a predate of the "Ma and Pa Kettle" comedies of the 1950s, is both Bogey and Singleton before their prime of life.

The plot revolves around Ed Hatch (Humphrey Bogart), a fight promoter, along with his associates Popeye Bronson (Frank McHugh), "Shiner" Ward (Allen Jenkins) and their dim-witted Greek wrestler, Joe "Hercules" Skapapoulos (Nat Pendleton) driving through Mussel City, Missouri, from New York City. Just about out of money and ideas, they come to Plunkett City, Kentucky (population 749), where Ed hopes to find a man to wrestle Joe. Ed later encounters Sadie Horn (Louise Fazenda), a mountain woman whose husband had gone possum hunting 11 years ago and never returned, now supporting herself and three kids (Tommy and Sonny Bupp, Jean Howard) as a lady blacksmith. After witnessing Sadie lifting his car stuck in a morass of mud with one hand (taking a can of spinach had nothing to do with this), Ed stumbles upon an idea of Joe wrestling Sadie, which would draw crowds and money, but once he meets her, Joe falls to dumb love in spite of complications after-wards with her jealous suitor, Noah Webster (Daniel Boone Savage). With the help of his girlfriend, Cookie Shannon (Penny Singleton), Hatch schemes up on other ideas to get his wrestling match to take place, with middling results.

SWING YOUR LADY, containing typical hillbilly humor and stereotypes ranging from a cross-eyed character to bearded types with "shootin' irons" and jugs of moonshine with triple X labels. Along the way, there's time out for musical interludes to such songs as "Dig Me a Grave in Missouri" (Sung by the Leon, Frank and Elviry Weaver); "The Old Apple Tree" (sung by the Weavers, reprise by Penny Singleton); "The Hillbilly From Tenth Avenue" (sung by Singleton); "The Old Apple Tree" (reprise); "Swing Your Lady" (sung by Penny Singleton wearing overalls); "Mountain Swingaroo" (sung by Singleton and Sammy White) and "Swing Your Lady" (reprise) written by M.K. Jerome and Jack Scholl.

With the cycle of Warners musicals in decline by 1938, SWING YOUR LADY offers little to redeem it but plenty of surprises to honor it. How many movies can one find Humphrey Bogart surrounded hillbillies instead of New York City thugs? How many hillbilly comedies can one find a future U.S. President (Ronald Reagan) appearing briefly as a sports reporter? Louise Fazenda, padded up a bit to appear broad-shouldered and strong-armed, is quite satisfactory as Sadie while Nat Pendleton, who, early in his career played convincing tough guys, to now be playing dumb clucks. McHugh and Jenkins offer nothing new in their familiar sidekick roles, while Penny Singleton, in her Warners debut, brings life to the story with her fast talking character and song and dance. Shortly after the release of SWING YOUR LADY, the Weavers would turn out a series of hillbilly comedies of their own over at Republic Studios before fading to obscurity. Had SWING YOUR LADY been remade in the 1940s, what great material this would have been for the comedy team of Bud Abbott (fight promoter), Lou Costello (wrestler) and Marjorie Main (Sadie) in the cast.

While SWING YOUR LADY has never been distributed on home video, it's been broadcast over the years on the Ted Turner cable channels starting with Turner Network Television (1988-1992) and presently on Turner Classic Movies. With the film containing some swinging, either on the dance floor or the wrestling mat, it remains a real curio and delight for the "Ma and Pa Kettle" or "The Beverly Hillbillies" crowd. (**)

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