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The Night Court (1927)

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A police raid on a night club results in the entire cast of the club's floor show being hauled into court, where they must perform their routines for the judge.



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Title: The Night Court (1927)

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Uncredited cast:
Defense Counsel (uncredited)
Joyzelle Joyner ...
Irene Tabasco, Exotic Dancer (uncredited)
Dottie Lewis ...
Flapper Singer (uncredited)
Ronald R. Rondell ...
Nightclub Patron (uncredited)


New York's Finest raid the Paradise Night Club on West 45th Street, "where everything goes, including your bank roll." In court the next day, the defense attorney asks that each person charged be allowed to perform. Dolly Lewis, arrested for singing risqué songs, does "I ain't that kind of a baby." The orchestra plays from the jury box. The chorus line, held for murdering the black bottom, performs in frills and bathing costumes. The judge and the defense hold a colloquy about a dead waiter. Then, Irene Tobasco, charged with an improper dance in scanty attire, performs in a diaphanous gown. Is she "raw" or "well done." What will the judge decide? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy | Musical





Release Date:

November 1927 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This short film was made at the Warner Brothers Studio during the summer of 1927, while Alan Crosland was shooting The Jazz Singer (1927) with Al Jolson on the adjacent stages. The ballerina costumes worn by the chorus girls ("charged with murdering the Black Bottom") appear to be the same costumes worn by Myrna Loy, Audrey Ferris and other chorus girls in review scenes of Jazz Singer. See more »


When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo
Written by Sammy Fain, Sam Coslow and Larry Spier
Played at the beginning, during the trial and at the end
Danced by the dance troupe
See more »

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User Reviews

A Jazz Age comic sketch, brought to you by Vitaphone
7 November 2004 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

This fascinating musical comedy short dates back to the dawn of the talkie era. In fact, The Night Court was filmed on a Warner Brothers sound stage concurrently with their epochal production The Jazz Singer, the movie that would rock Hollywood and change everything. First-rate comic actor William Demarest appeared in both films, but in The Night Court he's the star of the show, looking and sounding much as he would in the great Preston Sturges comedies of the 1940s. He's younger of course, and his delivery is a little uncertain, but the new technology must have been difficult for everyone at this very early stage of the game, even actors with stage experience like Demarest.

This is the sort of comic sketch with gags and songs that might have played on a bill in a vaudeville show, with a loose plot serving as framework for the entertainment. The premise is that the entire cast of a nightclub revue has been arrested and hauled into court for performing "suggestive" material. The troupe's lawyer (Demarest) proposes that the judge see the show for himself, right there in the courtroom. The judge agrees to this, and before you know it the troupe's leading lady, a Betty Boop-like flapper in a short skirt, has taken the stand and is singing a ditty called "I Ain't That Kind of a Baby." The judge follows up with a Groucho-like quip, saying that she'll need to be held for further examination. The chorus girls launch into an impromptu Black Bottom, and then the troupe's exotic dancer performs a hot number called "Orientale." More jokes fly back and forth, and it all builds to a musical finale topped with a mildly naughty closing gag involving a surprisingly swishy court bailiff.

Technically speaking The Night Court is a cinematic antique, but it's more fun than a lot of other primitive early talkies. These Vitaphone shorts really capture the feeling of a Jazz Age stage show: the pace is brisk and the gags are saucy, and when an actor fluffs a line they just keep on going. It's a particular treat to see William Demarest looking so youthful and dapper, tossing off wisecracks and even taking pratfalls, some fifteen years ahead of The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. I was fortunate enough to see this rarity at a screening of Vitaphone shorts at Film Forum in NYC, and can only hope that these delightful movies become more widely available in the near future.

P.S. Autumn 2007: I'm pleased to add that this short has been included in the newly released 3-disc set of The Jazz Singer. It's a great collection, and the Vitaphone shorts on the third DVD (including The Night Court) are worth the price of admission. Watching this one again I find I forgot to mention a blooper that's hilarious: at one point when the judge tries to silence the spectators, he brings down his gavel so hard the head pops off, forcing him to rap the gavel's stem against his desktop! But no retakes, of course. Just one of those delightful, unrehearsed moments you find in these early talkies, similar to watching Kinescopes of the first live TV shows. This new collection of Vitaphone material is must for movie buffs!

21 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Seems like model for TV's 'Night Court' eddiec-1
Guilty! Of mudering the Black Bottom. gcassidy2
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