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It is a shame that some of the critics of these films fail to take into account the time period when they were made. It seems they try to evaluate them according to the skills and talent of the 2007 era. I find this movie very entertaining, and for the time when made quite appropriate. I went to the movies back in those days and yelled and laughed just as much as the rest of the audience, never once trying to find something wrong with the acting or screenplay. Take for instance the fact that the singing was fully understandable and made sense, as compared to much of the music today with repetitious unintelligible singing by mostly non well trained singers. Of course this is my opinion. As to the tap dancing, I do not remember seeing any of that skill lately.
The main portion of this lightweight musical story is located at fictional Midwick College, which Peter Kendricks (Peter Lind Hayes) attends due to the largesse of stage actress Grace Hayes, his real-life mother who fills the same role here, and who manages to supply his love interest through her secretary Mary (Healy) who is his real-life wife. Drably directed from a weak script, and additionally hampered by excessive cutting and poor editing, this film does provide some treasures among its eight songs, including the title number, and has nice turns by soprano Healy, Benny Rubin as a snack shop proprietor, and the dynamic tap dancing Roland Dupree.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Burlesque queen Grace Hayes is one piece of work. She's a tough cookie
with a bit of Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice and Gracie Fields all tossed
into one. Not afraid of speaking her mind, she shows up at the college
of the son she gave up to his father to raise. Disgusted at the
irresponsibility she sees in him (her real-life son Peter Lind Hayes),
she plots to take on the unpaid role of mentor at the college, using
her money to gain a job as a waitress at the college café and getting
all of these irresponsible kids together to learn something about life
and responsibility by putting on the college show. He falls in love
with her assistant (Mary Healy, Peter's real-life wife!) and the show
they put together turns out to be a huge success.
Benny Rubin steals the film when Ms. Hayes is off screen as the prankster waiter who gives Peter Lind Hayes a hard time when he orders an unflavored water by asking "what flavor do you not want it flavored with?". The banter between Rubin and Ms. Hayes over a Mother Gin Sling is truly funny. Hayes visits with her old paramour, tells him off for raising their son without discipline, and bids him goodbye with affection and regret. A bulk of the second half of the film is devoted to the college show, and one song ("Put Your Trust in the Moon") stands out as worthy of re-discovery. This is a better than normal programmer that has many witty moments, some above average musical moments and performances that are quite wonderful.
Often dressed for a funeral, matronly musical stage star Grace Hayes
(as Grace Hayes) goes to college. There, she wants to put secret son
Peter Lind Hayes (as Peter Kendricks) on the right track. He's been
swallowing gold-fish, and acting bratty. Also appearing is pretty
secretary Mary Healy (as Mary Healy), who makes romance with Mr. Hayes.
The couple were married in real life, and Ms. Hayes really is his
mother. Taking a break from his "East Side Kids" duties, Huntz Hall (as
Skeets Skillhorn) performs as Hayes' musically schooled pal. Most of
the time, "Zis Boom Bah" progressively lives up to the words of its
title, with tap-dancer Roland Dupree (as Pee Wee) and the minor players
bringing more punch to the revue.
**** Zis Boom Bah (11/7/41) William Nigh ~ Grace Hayes, Peter Lind Hayes, Mary Healy, Huntz Hall
This feels very stilted and patronizing to a great extent. The whole
plot is extremely forced - especially the "gallant" effort to save the
college from ruin, and the moralistic overtone (especially by the
leading lady) grates a bit.
But there are one or two comic moments that do help relieve the boredom, and the dancing is quite fun (especially for alleged amateurs - ha, ha!)
The shop proprietor and the young guy doing spectacular tap dancing were particular highlights. And I liked Peter Hayes impressions of Charles Laughton and Ronald Coleman as well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The stage star Grace Hayes stars in this obscure little film. After
years of being on the stage, she is going to visit a small college town
to check up on her son who is being raised by his grandfather. The kid
doesn't know who his mother is and when she sees him in a local malt
shop, he's a boorish jerk. Part of the problem is that he is a college
clown the other part is that he's really spoiled.
Interestingly, it turns out that Mom is really quite wealthy and has been not only funding her son's life but is a hefty contributor to the college. So, she has the idea of forcing the young man to mature. She talks to the man who's raising Peter and has his allowance cut off completely--hoping he'll rise to the occasion. It also turns out that she puts the screws to the school because she thinks all these kids need to stop playing around and be more responsible.
Now here's where it gets pretty dumb. To show that they know the value of hard work, she hires a bunch of them to sing and dance at the malt shop she just purchased. Talk about contrived!! What happens next is like a long and not particularly good talent show or perhaps a poor man's version of a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney musical! I'd suggest the kids try to do something else to earn money...or perhaps sing and dance until people pay them to stop! I know I would pay them.
Considering that the talent is far from talented, Peter is a bad actor and his change from lout to responsible adult is almost instantaneous, the whole thing is a bit hard to take. Not a very good film by any sane standard, this is an obscure film that should have stayed obscure!
By the way, it is interesting that Ms. Hayes' son in the film, Peter, is actually her real life son. The only problem with that is that Peter Lind Hayes is a truly awful actor. He's not handsome enough to be a leading man and he comes off as either dull and uninteresting or downright obnoxious. In particular, all the stupid impressions he does are really bad and he has the charisma of the gelatin that you scrape off Spam. Despite this terrible performance, he did go on to have a reasonably successful acting career. Who would have believed it if you'd seen him in ZIS BOOM BAH--because here, he's about as welcome as the Bubonic Plague!!
Having some idle time before going to work, I looked at my "50 Movie Pack Comedy Classics" DVD collection and picked the most obscure title in the pack: Zis Boom Bah starring a forgotten Grace Hayes. "Classics" is obviously the operative word here since most of the titles I've never heard of and I suspect they're all in the public domain. Anyway, this movie also stars her son Peter Lind and his wife Mary Healy (who I just found out is a New Orleans native from the state I live in, Louisiana) with Benny Rubin as a malt shop proprietor and Huntz Hall, taking a break from the East Side Kids, as Peter's buddy. The plot, about a vaudeville mother trying to turn her rich carefree son into a responsible one with him unaware of who she is, is for the birds and doesn't have many funny scenes though I did like Peter's celebrity impersonations and his dance with Hall in drag. And the songs and dances are entertaining in themselves. Rubin, however, is all over the place with his confusion of the American vernacular of the time and almost everything concerning him makes no sense whatsoever (though I did like his funny dance). Since this was only 61 minutes that I'm sure played on the lower-half of the double feature bill, I'll be charitable and give this one a 3 for the few entertaining bits that I mentioned enjoying.
Oh Gawd. I want to time travel back to Monogram Studios and throttle someone in their 2 room front office for this sloppy musical. It is one watt above flat-lining for 60 of its 61 minutes and then actually shows (for the one thin minute, spread in milli-second blips across the hour) that there is real life talent being badly photographed.I just don't see the point of going to some trouble to actually make this film that could easily be energetic and actually funny and allow lethargy to be the main thing on view. The weird storyline shows cranky vaudeville trouper Grace Hayes bulldozing her blowsy way into a college where her rat-bag son is rich college clown. She's gonna fix his playboy ways, no matter what.Her real life son (weird looking) Peter Hays plays her screen son. His real life wife plays her secretary. Talk about nepotism. I suspect this talent package was almost the raison d'etre for Monogram financing this back-lot musical produced by resident schlockmeister extraordinaire Sam Katzman. As with other Monogram musicals it just looks more like a reason to film recent new furniture purchases and light fittings in order to show off to other studios that Monogram Pictures are 'lavish' in their B grade ways. Have a ghastly look at SWING PARADE OF 1946 for genuine evidence of this: they just constructed this gigantic nightclub set then found an excuse to film actors and musicians running all over it. Story? None. Anyway ZIS BOOM BAH is more BAH than BOOM. Where was Gale Storm and Mantan Mooreland when Monogram really needed them? Probably standing at the boom gate of PRC Pictures wondering if it looked safe to enter there. Junior jive hepster Roland Dupree springs to life to rappety tap his teen legs around two wobbly dance numbers, especially in the 'big show' finale set in the new and expanded malt shoppe/club set. The usual crumpled curtains are loosely hanging on the back wall, and the stage set of mis matched drapery even has one dark main rag that is yanked back and forth as each amateur sequence elbows past the previous one. The chorus girls and their very plain looking partners in this finale just look like Monogram office staff borrowed (from typing and carpentry) for the morning of filming. They have absolutely no dance talent and are so ordinary on screen... ALL the girls look like they are all called Joyce. There is even a costume calamity where they wear frilly hot-pants...on one leg only. It is all so awful and crummy...and actually annoying when one more tweak up by all concerned would result in ZIS being actually FUN. The one strangely interesting thing is the dialog delivery between Grace and her son/daughter in law: it is so casually delivered that it actually works in spite of the script and logic. She has a very life like presence which is the only thing that allows the ridiculous story to be slightly compelling. The Dupree kid is the real star. He can actually do something...in spite of looking like a tubby Liberace tap dancing teen... You read that right.
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