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Off the Record (1936)

Unrated | | Short, Musical | 1 February 1936 (USA)
Bandleader B. A. Rolfe is saluted with a party on his 40th anniversary in show business.



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Cast overview:
B.A. Rolfe ...
The Music Hall Boys ...
The Sinclair Twins ...


It's a party to celebrate band leader B.A. Rolfe's 40 years in show business. The Music Hall Boys are on hand to play. A photographer's flash sends Rolfe into a swoon. He imagines he's climbing a ladder to Heaven, where St. Peter wants to examine his record. Rolfe produces his latest recording: St. Peter listens then explains he means Rolfe's moral record, and he asks about that girl Sally back in the 1890s. We see a dance hall where Rolfe enjoys two women doing a can-can; one sits on Rolfe's lap while a trio harmonizes. St. Peter asks what happened to Sally. A celestial photo sends Rolfe back to the celebration. And Sally? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Plot Keywords:

1890s | dance | trio | flash | photographer | See All (28) »


Short | Musical






Release Date:

1 February 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Melody Masters (1935-1936 season) #6: Off the Record  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reel #1907. See more »


Sally in Our Alley
Written by Henry Carey
Sung in the tavern
See more »

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User Reviews

Ladies & gentlemen, the one and only B. A. Rolfe! (Who?)
9 February 2009 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

The star of this wacky Vitaphone short is possibly the unlikeliest movie star this side of Marie Dressler. Off the Record features a short, bald, portly gent in his mid-50s named B. A. Rolfe. This genial-looking fellow was involved in show business as early as the 1880s, touring Europe as a 10 year-old cornet soloist. He later conducted his own orchestra, but eventually moved behind the scenes as a producer of vaudeville shows and early silent films. In the 1920s Rolfe left the movie business and returned to music as leader of a dance band, one that recorded many songs and became popular on radio.

Off the Record was made as a salute to Rolfe on his 50th anniversary in show business. It would have been easy enough for the folks at the Vitaphone studio to produce a typical orchestra short consisting of a few pleasant musical numbers, but instead they decided to go the extra mile and do something imaginative. Did I say "imaginative"? It's positively off the wall! The film opens at a celebratory banquet, as Rolfe and his orchestra conclude a swinging rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again." A toast is proposed to the guest of honor, and then, despite his protests, a photographer shows up to take his picture. Unfortunately, the popping flashbulb sends the poor man reeling into unconsciousness. Worse still, it seems to actually kill him! The music turns chaotic, stars and planets whirl crazily across the screen, and the next thing you know, Rolfe is standing before St. Peter at the Gates of Heaven. Peter says he'll need to examine Rolfe's record, so Rolfe obligingly produces it, i.e. his latest recording. St. Peter's angelic secretary pops the disc onto a heavenly turntable, and Rolfe's band appears (in miniature) to play for the assembled host.

St. Peter, apparently a jazz fan, is in favor of allowing Rolfe into Paradise, but first needs to question him about a romantic indiscretion committed in his youth. Flashback to a saloon in the 1890s, where most of the rest of the short takes place. (Rolfe looks just the same young as he looks middle-aged, only with the addition of a highly unconvincing toupee.) The Gay '90s setting is a good enough excuse for various dancers and singers to perform period tunes in a deliberately hokey fashion. The film wraps up with a couple of casual, what-the- heck gags and a reprise of the opening number.

Based on the evidence presented here I do hope St. Peter eventually allowed B. A. Rolfe past the Pearly Gates. On the strength of this entertaining little short alone, I'd say the guy earned his passage.

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