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This breezy musical short serves as a showcase for the adorable young
Lillian Roth, a gifted performer better remembered for her battle with
alcohol than for her talent. Today we're accustomed to hearing
celebrities discuss their struggles with substance abuse, but when Roth
published her memoir "I'll Cry Tomorrow" in 1954 it was highly unusual
and decidedly risky for an entertainer to go public as a problem
drinker. (Admittedly, by that point Roth's show business career was all
but over and she had little to lose.) The book became a best-seller,
and the subsequent film version starring Susan Hayward as Lillian was a
hit as well, forever establishing Roth as a troubled but brave woman
haunted by personal demons.
All of that was many years later and, seemingly, a million miles away when Lillian made this sweet, simple novelty short. When Meet the Boyfriend went before the cameras she was around 20 years old, cute as a bug and full of life. The setting is a park by a lake (though obviously shot in a studio) where a group of young undergrads relax, sing, and josh each other. To kick things off a male quartet harmonizes on "I've Got 'It' But It Don't Do Me No Good." They accompany themselves on ocarinas and a penny-whistle, and while we listen we're treated to a running gag: a sporty young guy repeatedly tries and fails to start his jalopy. Soon Lillian's friends decide to head for the lake, but she lingers behind, preferring to wait for her big, handsome boyfriend Jimmy (as she lovingly describes him). While she waits Lillian sings a bluesy ballad, "Sort of Lonesome," a soulful tune that sets a mellow mood.
--until Jimmy arrives, that is. He turns out to be a comically nerdy boy with thick glasses, bow-tie, and a receding hairline. Lillian is delighted with him anyway, and proves it by launching into an exuberant rendition of "Me and the Boyfriend (Jimmy and Me)." This one is a real show-stopper, punctuated by Roth's excited mauling of the poor guy: she grabs his face, slaps him, whacks him, and eventually leaves him flattened on the ground at her feet. The number is hilarious, but I have to wonder if the unidentified actor playing Jimmy actually got a little damaged! Roth performed a routine similar to this in The Love Parade, a great musical feature of 1929, where in the course of a duet she gives comedian Lupino Lane a good pasting. It seems to have been a Roth trademark to get rough with the guys, but she brings a good-natured cheeriness to these sequences that still comes across. This is a fun short that puts the spotlight on a talented lady who deserves to be remembered for more than her troubled personal life.
This one is set at a college picnic by the lake, with three musical numbers. "We've Got It Bad but It Don't Do Us No Good" is by a quartet of college men, with ukulele, pennywhistle, and ocarinas. "Sort of Lonesome" is a romantic song, sung straight by Roth. "Me and the Boyfriend" is sung more uptempo by Roth, made comic by her actions as she manhandles her geeky boyfriend. Miss Roth is very appealing -- they should show this sort of thing on MTV.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a Paramount short featuring Lilian Roth. Back in the early days
of talkies, Paramount made some musical shorts--much like the Vitaphone
ones from Warner Brothers. Unfortunately, very few of the Paramount
films are available. A small number are available on a disc entitled
"The Best of Big Band and Swing" and can be rented from Netflix.
As for Ms. Roth's singing, it's pretty good but sometimes the accompaniment is a bit too loud--drowning her out in the process. It's a shame and I chalk it up to difficulties directors were having getting used to the new sound process.
The film is set among a group of co-eds--you know, the sort you see in movies who NEVER go to class or study. Instead, they sing and cavort about! Here, Roth sings about her boyfriend, Jimmy. It is cute, however, as when you finally see this wonderful young man, Jimmy appears to be a bit of a yutz! I did really like the musical number Roth did with him--you just have to see it to appreciate it! Worth seeing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a delightful musical short that shows what a wonderful talent
Lillian Roth possessed. Lillian made quite a few of these shorts at
various stages in her career. This one, set on a river with college
co-eds, was at the start of her career to showcase her singing talents.
Norman Taurog directed and he was at the start of a long directorial
It starts off with a glee club of college boys (accompanying themselves on various instruments, including kazoos) singing "I Got it Bad but It Don't Do Me No Good". Talk then turns to Lillian and her love for Jimmy. Everyone goes on the lake but Lillian, who sings the soulful "Sort of Lonesome". She is then joined by the elusive Jimmy (who turns out to be a dork with a receding hairline!!!!) She sings the madcap "Just Like Jimmy and Me".
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