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Nicky Nelson is a fast-talking sideshow barker with a wax-and-alive concession on Atlantic City's boardwalk. Even with the band of his friend, struggling musician Gene Krupa, playing on the sidewalk to attract the customers, "The Living Corpse" and other low-rent acts aren't enough to lure the seen-it-all boardwalk strollers, and the landlord closes the show in lieu of never-paid rent. Nicky, always promoting, goes to Stephen Hanratty, head of the pier's Dance Pavilion, to plug Krupa's band as an attraction, but Hanratty won't even listen to them. But, while there, he meets singer Lily Racquel, who knows he is a phoney but might have the ability to to talk a radio-station manager into giving her an audition. She gives him a ring to help finance the project; he promptly loses it in a crap-game. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SOME LIKE IT HOT (Paramount, 1939), directed by George Archainbaud, stars the now legendary comedian, Bob Hope, in one of his lesser known movie projects with a classic movie title. Bearing no relation to the 1959 Billy Wilder United Artists comedy, SOME LIKE IT HOT, starring Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in a story set during the roaring twenties about a couple of hapless musicians who, after witnessing a gangland killing, elude gangsters involved by disguising themselves as women in an all-girl band. No doubt that sort of story would have been ideal Bob Hope material. Instead, this SOME LIKE IT HOT is a minor musical with an entirely different screenplay. Aside from being Hope's third collaboration with vocalist, Shirley Ross, SOME LIKE IT HOT is also a notable for one of the few film roles of famous drummer, Gene Krupa, who not only acts but gets his chance twirling his sticks in a couple of drum soloing interludes.
Set mostly at an boardwalk arcade, Nicky Nelson (Bob Hope) is a small time carnival promoter of Nicky Nelson Enterprises with Gene Krupa and his Orchestra as his assistants. For five years he's talked his way in and out o situations, but have never succeeded to the top of his profession. Outside of office of Steve Hanratty (Bernard Nedall), agent for the City Pier Amusement Company, Nicky encounters Lily Racquell (Shirley Ross), a talented singer who has just lost her job. The two team up, but Nicky loses both his orchestra and vocalist after Lily discovers Nicky gambled away her diamond ring and their signature song to Hanratty. Under Hanrity's management, Krupa and Lily perform to great success at the Paradise Pavalion while Nicky, feeling he can go it alone, finds himself on a downward path.
Being the swing band era, with the catch phrase of "hot" as part of the language used amongst band players, "hot" songs used in this production include: "Some Like It Hot" (sung by Rufe Davis, Jack Smart and Harry Barris, played by Gene Krupa and his Orchestra); "The Lady's in Love With You" (piano playing by Bob Hope); "Who Done It" (performed by the Krupa Orchestra); "Some Like It Hot" (sung by Shirley Ross); "Heart and Soul" (Gene Krupa and his Orchestra); and "The Lady's in Love With You" (sung by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross).
Having both introduced the Academy Award winning tune to what's become Hope's lifelong theme song, "Thanks for the Memory" from THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938, followed with "Two Sleepy People" for THANKS FOR THE MEMORY (1938), a natural title. Hope and Ross resume their fine chemistry with this film's best song, "The Lady's in Love With You." While Hope and Ross could have resumed promisingly as a screen team, this was to be their last together.
Others appearing in the cast include Una Merkel (Flo Saunders); Frank Sully (Sailor Burke, the living corpse) Clarence Wilson (Mr. Ives, better known as "Beagle Beak," the landlord after Nicky's back rent); Bernadine Hayes, Richard Denning and Tiny Wayne Witty. Regrettably, Merkel, as Sailor Burke's love interest, is given little to do what normally calls for some good comic support.
Previously filmed as SHOOT THE WORKS (Paramount, 1934), with Jack Oakie, Dorothy Dell and Lew Cody in the Hope, Ross and Nedall roles, this latest edition, based on a play, holds up better primarily due to the early screen presence of Hope. For anyone familiar with Bob Hope's style of comedy, SOME LIKE IT HOT offers little or nothing by way of his typical ad-libs or Hollywood in-jokes that have served him more favorably later in his career, especially those wacky "Road to" comedies in the 1940s opposite Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hope does have some moments with funny one-liners, but overall plays it straight. One thing that fits the Hope persona here is his method of meeting the girl (Ross), winning her over with some kissing within a very short time span. How he works fast!
Available for many years under its new title, RHYTHM ROMANCE, so not to compete with the Billy Wilder classic (interesting Paramount didn't lose the title rights to Martha Raye's THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER (1940) to Loretta Young's 1947 edition of the same name) and not shown regularly on either commercial and/or public television since the 1980s, this 64 minute product has become available to home video in 1999 through MCA Home Video as part of the Bob Hope Collection. As for cable TV, its only know broadcast in recent years was on Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: July 16, 2008) where it played part of TCM's tribute to "Big Band Music in the Movies."
Though SOME LIKE IT HOT/RHYTHM ROMANCE may not be so hot by Hope standards, it's an interesting look at the young comedian shortly before reaching his peak of success, the vocalizing of Shirley Ross, and the drummer boy himself, Gene Krupa. (**)
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