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Elstree Calling (1930)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Musical | 29 September 1930 (UK)
A series of nineteen musical and comedy "vaudeville" sketches presented in the form of a live broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley (as himself). There are two "running gags" which connect the ... See full summary »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Tommy Handley Tommy Handley ... Himself, Compere
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gordon Begg Gordon Begg ... Shakespeare
Teddy Brown Teddy Brown ... Himself
Helen Burnell Helen Burnell
Donald Calthrop ... Himself / Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew
The Charlot Girls The Charlot Girls
Bobbie Comber Bobbie Comber ... (as Bobby Comber)
Cicely Courtneidge Cicely Courtneidge ... Herself
Will Fyffe ... Himself
Lawrence Green Lawrence Green
Gordon Harker ... George
Jack Hulbert ... Himself
Hannah Jones ... George's Wife
John Longden
Ivor McLaren Ivor McLaren
Edit

Storyline

A series of nineteen musical and comedy "vaudeville" sketches presented in the form of a live broadcast hosted by Tommy Handley (as himself). There are two "running gags" which connect the sketches. In one, an actor wants to perform Shakespeare, but he is continually denied air-time. The other gag has an inventor trying to view the broadcast on television. Four of the sketches are in color (in shades of yellow and brown only). Written by Bruce W. Christopher <bwintonc@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Truly a Constellation of Stars too costly to present on any one Music Hall Programme. (Print Ad- Auckland Star, ((Auckland, NZ)) 8 January 1931)

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 September 1930 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Hello Everybody See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Color:

Black and White | Color (Pathécolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir Alfred Hitchcock is credited on-screen with "sketches and other interpolated items". Adrian Brunel, in his autobiography, "Nice Work", described how he originally shot "The Taming of the Shrew" spoof, only to have Producer John Maxwell reject it for not being funny enough. Brunel states that Hitchcock was brought in to re-shoot the sketch. Hitchcock is believed to have directed the Gordon Harker sketch, "The Taming of the Shrew" spoof, and the "thriller" sketch with Jameson Thomas. See more »

Alternate Versions

Released in the US with the title HELLO EVERYBODY, it was truncated to about half the original running time. See more »

Connections

Spoofs The Jazz Singer (1927) See more »

Soundtracks

Doubtful Quartet
Performed by Jack Hulbert, Bobbie Comber, Ivor McLaren and Lawrence Green
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A night out on the London stage
6 September 2012 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

In producing this brand-new singing, dancing, all-talkie film, British International Pictures inadvertently contrived to preserve a cross-section of the contemporary London stage scene from the West End to the music halls. Sit back in your seat, enjoy the entertainment beamed directly to your home (I had no idea that television existed in the popular perception long before the BBC), and let yourself be carried away back to the days of 1930, flitting from venue to venue to experience a night out in the London of the era. Some of the acts are to one taste, some to another, but you've paid for the programme as a whole so applaud and wait to see what's coming next.

My personal favourite would be the live-wire tapping and jazzy tunes of the Three Eddies' blackface act (especially the skeleton dance!), but while overall I was interested in this revue chiefly for the music -- it features unknown (at least to me) tunes by Vivian Ellis and Ivor Novello, for example -- there's a good deal else that's worth enjoying, and a few tantalising glimpses 'backstage' at the Elstree studios as well.

"Elstree Calling" was edited on the cheap and rushed out in ten days for a hasty release to recoup the cost of production, and it shows. Few of the five or six camera angles filmed on every shot actually got used, for instance, and a number of bizarre choices seem to have been made, such as choosing to show a dance sequence via a camera focused too high and showing a vast expanse of curtain above the performers' heads but cutting off their actual feet -- or a shot that shows the performers disappearing off the left-hand side of the frame while focusing on the empty set centre-stage. Did anybody even take the trouble to screen these clips before attaching them together? (Director Adrian Brunel, who had left detailed directions for the compilation of his footage only for them to be totally ignored, complained in his autobiography "How could the Hulbert-Courtneidge numbers be slung together like that without looking like casual newsreel photographing?")

I was also a bit puzzled by the smoke that appears to be pouring out of the top of the jaw-droppingly gigantic image of 'Little' Teddy Brown in the background of his first musical interlude -- presumably a side-effect of the stage lighting? But it isn't just the editing: certainly in the chorus sequences, the choreography tends to suffer from being cramped onto a film set, while no-one seems to yet have worked out how to avoid having a long line of girls strung out across the middle of a square-format screen. (See, e.g. the chorus sequences in British-Gaumont's "First a Girl" for more sophisticated treatment later in the Thirties.)

Still, I found this glimpse onto the theatre world of the era thoroughly enjoyable: it was particularly interesting after having screened the shorts in the silent "On With the Dance" series of only a few years only, since the styles are very similar but obviously this time with music. Just don't expect cinema: theatre is what is advertised, and theatre is what you will get -- though there is a brief homage to the antics of Douglas Fairbanks in the burlesque "Taming of the Shrew" that closes the act!


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