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The Canary Comes Across (1938)

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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 12 users  
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At the Lawburn prison, the convicts love the glee club, directed by Ann, the warden's daughter. The warden disbands the club when its best singer, Canary Dillon, escapes. A ranking con puts... See full summary »



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Title: The Canary Comes Across (1938)

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Cast overview:
Erik Rhodes ...
Dillon, the Canary
Virginia Grey ...
Ann Clayton
Maurice Black ...
Oscar O'Shea ...


At the Lawburn prison, the convicts love the glee club, directed by Ann, the warden's daughter. The warden disbands the club when its best singer, Canary Dillon, escapes. A ranking con puts the out the word to the city's underworld to deliver Canary back to Lawburn. An opera-loving mobster discovers Canary singing in an opera chorus, and he's shortly back behind bars. Trouble is, it's not Dillon but a dead ringer who keeps his identity secret for a while to get to know Ann. There's a national radio competition among prison choruses and the real Dillon, safe outside, is jealous of the attention his twin is getting. What will he do? Written by <>

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Plot Keywords:

police chief | See All (1) »


Musical | Short





Release Date:

26 January 1938 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Erik Rhodes in a starring role
7 May 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Some SPOILERS may follow: Most movie watchers remember Erik Rhodes from his performances in two Astaire-Rogers movies. The jewel was THE GAY Divorcée in which he played Tonetti, the co-respondent in the divorce, one of the best supporting roles in all the Astaire films of the 30's. Here, in this musical short, produced by MGM and written by the Burton-Jason team (who wrote the popular standard "Penthouse Serenade"), Rhodes plays a dual role, totally unlike his Italian impersonations. He is supposed to be "the Canary,"a prisoner with a gifted singing voice. The daughter of the warden, played by Virginia Grey, is trying to get a group of inmates to sing beautifully so they can compete in a singing contest over the radio involving prisoners. (We eventually see a women's trio and a group of African-Americans performing songs.) The Canary makes his escape from prison, and three guys set out to find him. They think they see him as a member of a chorus in an opera, grab him, and drop him off at the prison. The Canary is ostensibly captured, and he and the warden's daughter find a kind of wonderful harmony. Well, eventually, the real Canary gets wise to the situation and breaks into prison to set things right. Some knocking on the heads of two Canaries ensue. Eventually events lead to a resolution bringing a happy ending. We are left with the image of Rhodes as a would be leading man given the chance to sing a romantic song to a lovely blond in a prison filled with the most gentlemanly inmates in the world. Pure fantasy, of course, especially depicting the men interacting with the warden's daughter, and a failed experiment in creating a different more romantic image for a man who was a superb comic actor. Worth a look you like Rhodes as an actor, but clearly not unless you want your preconceived expectations of his performance to be jarred.

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