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Lulu Monahan (Patsy Kelly), the press agent for John Barrymore (John Barrymore),is attempting to get a sponsor for a radio program. To that end, she and the agent for bandleader Kay Kyser (Kay Kyser), plant a story that the great Shakespearean actor, over his heartfelt objections, will teach Kyser how to play Shakespeare, which isn't the same as playing Paducah, which soon becomes evident. Highlights are the singing of Ginny Simms and a rumba by Lupe Velez; lowlights already cited. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Perhaps my hating the film so much may be because I just couldn't stand watching a bloated and sad looking John Barrymore as he limped through his final film role before his premature death due to the ravages of alcoholism. So, while Barrymore was 59 when he made the film, he looked older and quite tired. It's also a pretty sad film because it's among the last films of Lupe Valez (who committed suicide just three years later) and May Robson--who at least was still quite game despite being in her 80s. And, as a final or near final film for these three, it's a pretty pathetic and uninteresting film.
Part of my disinterest in the film, I am sure, has to do with my not particularly liking Kay Kyser films. While he was quite popular in the late 30s and early 40s, I just never liked his cheesy films. I'm not a fan of him, his music or the stupid antics of Ish Kabibble. Perhaps if I'd been born much earlier and grew up with this sort of stuff I would have enjoyed it more. As it is, it all seemed very amateurish and forced. However, while I didn't like their music either, I could recognize its quality and fans of big-band music might enjoy these many interludes.
The plot involves John Barrymore pretty much playing himself. He is a broken down hammy actor who can't get work, so his manager (played by the ever-subtle Patsy Kelly) decides to tie in a promotion with Kay Kyser. Her logic is that EVERYTHING Kyser does is played to the hilt by the press, so saying that Barrymore working with Kyser would give his moribund career a much needed shot in the arm. In a publicity stunt that only makes sense in films, she announces that Barrymore (who was very famous once upon a time for his Shakespeare) will teach and act with Southern boy Kyser in a production of "Hamlet"!! As I said, this made no sense at all--and it would be akin to teaching a rabbit to be a crooner! Along for the ride are, of course, Kyser's band, Ginny Simms (who was still with the band), May Robson (as Kyser's grandmother) and Lupe Valez (I have no idea whatsoever why she's in the film, actually). The film is pretty much what you'd expect--lots of corny humor, singing and a lot of energy. As for Barrymore, he's a sad shell of his old self and over-acts horribly. And, when he makes remarks about drinking, his failed career, tax troubles or exploits off the screen, it's all rather pathetic--as this WAS his life for real in 1941. The film will probably bore most, though those curious to see Barrymore's last performance (like me) or lovers of Kyser (yecch) will probably enjoy it a bit more. Still, the film is so broadly written and goofy, it can't be mistaken for a great film--just a grotesque oddity.
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