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Public Jitterbug No. 1 (1939)

 |  Short, Comedy, Musical  |  4 May 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 61 users  
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The government has set up a special agency to stamp out what it considers the number one public menace: the jitterbug. They aren't after the many followers, but the primary perpetrator of ... See full summary »



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Title: Public Jitterbug No. 1 (1939)

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Complete credited cast:
Hal Le Roy ...
Hal Sturges
Chaz Chase ...
Tom Emerson ...
Tom Emerson's Hillbilly Sextette ...
Hillbilly Sextette (as Emerson's Sextette)


The government has set up a special agency to stamp out what it considers the number one public menace: the jitterbug. They aren't after the many followers, but the primary perpetrator of the jitterbug, who they've coined "Public Jitterbug No. 1". Hal Sturges is one of several agents working on the case who goes undercover as a dancer in Broadway haunts to find and capture Public Jitterbug No. 1. In his investigation, Hal runs across the beautiful Betty, a seemingly innocent bystander. Hal and Betty fall for each other. However Betty is unaware that Hal is a federal agent, and Hal is unaware that Betty is Public Jitterbug No. 1. Will their roles as agent and public menace number one take priority over their roles of man and woman? Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy | Musical





Release Date:

4 May 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Broadway Brevities (1939-1940 season) #8: Public Jitterbug Number One  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Now out on DVD as as an extra feature with "The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" See more »


Obviously the Gentleman Prefers to Dance
Music by Saul Chaplin
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn
Sung by Betty Hutton and danced by Hal Le Roy
See more »

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User Reviews

Petticoat Fluffing Felony
7 February 2007 | by (Virginia Beach) – See all my reviews

This is one of the most bizarre things you will encounter among the films that don't intend to be strange.

You probably will never see it, so let me describe it. It starts with a shot of the US capitol and switches to a group of men that are some mix of senators and G-men. They are upset that there is nothing on the radio but swing. A national disaster is declared.

The men decide that rather than capture all the offenders, they need to get the top guy. So everyone is sent out to catch "public jitterbug number 1." The scene shifts. Somehow they have decided that a certain club is the location of interest. Our G-men are now disguised as a country-western band! All except one who poses as a tap dancer.

What follows are three episodes. The first is our tapdancer, Hal Le Roy, who really does a phenomenal dance. Very good, with what must be silk pants ruffling. Then there's an episode that has nothing at all to do with the already incredible story: a guest — Chaz Chase — eats everything. And I mean everything: a cigarette lit on both ends, a dozen lit matches, flowers, all the food on the table, his own shirt, a harmonica and a police badge. When the badge comes back up, the G-men are revealed.

The third and last scene is Betty Hutton who admits to being public jitterbug number one. She sings, well enough. And she dances after a fashion. But she is wearing a full, floorlength dress (a sort of folk German affair) so if she is doing something special under there, you can't see it.

Finally, the tap dancer (who has fallen in love with Betty) turns against the group and runs away with her, bullets flying.

Its not enjoyable on its face. The print I saw was very bad. Betty has no charm at all. But it is one of the most mind bending story ideas I have even encountered. "Phantom Empire" from a few years earlier is another. I think there must have been drugs involved.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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