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Syncopation (1929)

This is RKO's first sound musical. It centers on a pair of vaudevillians who are quite close on and off the stage until a dashing millionaire comes around and begins wooing the female partner.


Bert Glennon


Gene Markey (novel), Frances Agnew (scenario) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians ... Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians (as Waring's Pennsylvanians)
Morton Downey ... Lew
Barbara Bennett ... Fleurette Sloane
Ian Hunter ... Alexander Winston
Bobby Watson ... Benny Darrell
Mackenzie Ward ... Sylvester Cunningham
Verree Teasdale ... Rita Eliot
Osgood Perkins ... Hummel
Dorothy Lee ... Peggy
Leon Barte Leon Barte ... Artino (as Leon Barté)


This is RKO's first sound musical. It centers on a pair of vaudevillians who are quite close on and off the stage until a dashing millionaire comes around and begins wooing the female partner.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They Play-Sing TALK See more »


Comedy | Drama | Music







Release Date:

24 March 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

New York-Melodier See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of two known 35mm prints exists in a Russian Archive. See more »


Benny: Good Luck with your next batch of fudge!
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Featured in Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (2012) See more »


Do Something
Music by Sam H. Stept
Lyrics by Bud Green
Performed by Dorothy Lee and Morton Downey
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User Reviews

Early Backstage Musical
11 October 2008 | by drednmSee all my reviews

SYNCOPATION was produced under the FBO banner (Joe Kennedy) but released as the first RKO film. It's typical of the early talkies in that the actors muff lines but keep right on going. The musical numbers are surprisingly good and fit in nicely with the backstage theme.

The stars are a little awkward here. Bobby Watson plays Benny to Barbara Bennett's Flo. They are a dance team trying to hit the big time. After getting good reviews for a show that closes right away, they get an offer to appear at a swank nightclub run by Ian Hunter. Of course he steals Flo away, changes her name to Fleurette and opens a new club named for her and with a new leading man. The opening night is a disaster and the story resolves itself from there.

Watson (who played the diction coach in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN while Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor sing "Moses Supposes"), is only OK as the leading man here. Bennett (sister of the more famous and glamorous Constance and Joan) isn't bad at all but she sure seems nervous. Hunter is solid as the cad.

Co-stars include the perky Dorothy Lee, the ear-piercing Morton Downey, Osgood Perkins, Verree Teasdale, Mackenzie Ward, and Fred Waring and his band. Waring does a good novelty number called "Tin Pan Parade" and Downey and Lee had a nice number in "Do Do Something."

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