6.6/10
55
8 user 2 critic

Queen High (1930)

The two partners of a ladies' garter business are constantly feuding with each other. When they ask their lawyer to dissolve their partnership, he proposes that instead the two of them play... See full summary »

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(musical play "Queen High"), (musical play "Queen High") | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... T. Boggs Johns
... Mr. Nettleton
... Polly Rockwell
... Dick Johns
Helen Carrington ... Mrs. Nettleton
Rudolph Cameron ... Cyrus Vanderholt
... Florence Cole
... Mrs. Rockwell
Nina Olivette ... Coddles
... Jimmy
Edith Sheldon ... Dancer
Theresa Klee
Dorothy Walters
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marta DeVeaux
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Storyline

The two partners of a ladies' garter business are constantly feuding with each other. When they ask their lawyer to dissolve their partnership, he proposes that instead the two of them play a single poker hand: the loser to become the winner's personal manservant for a year. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

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Plot Keywords:

feud | based on play | See All (2) »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

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Details

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Release Date:

23 August 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Rainha de Copas  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Members of the cast of the successful Broadway Show "Follow Thru" can be seen in some scenes, among them is Eleanor Powell. See more »

Soundtracks

It Seems to Me
Written by Howard Dietz (as Dick Howard) and Ralph Rainger
Sung by Stanley Smith and Ginger Rogers
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User Reviews

 
Odour of the Garter.

'Queen High' is ever so slightly a musical, based on a 1914 Broadway play that became a 1926 stage musical: the film jettisons most of the Broadway score and adds two new songs. Top billing goes to Stanley Smith (who?) and Ginger Rogers as the young lovers, but they warble their songs in operetta voices, and Ginger stands aside while the only dance number is performed by others! Smith's singing voice is badly dubbed by some guy who rolls his R's and broadens his A's, bearing no semblance to Smith's speaking voice. Ginger speaks all her dialogue in Gracie Allen's voice, and sings ditto.

The actual lead roles are performed by Charles Ruggles (reprising his part from the 1926 musical) and Frank Morgan as equal partners in a firm that makes only one product: ladies' garters. (What we Brits would call "suspenders".) This premise offers huge potential for musical numbers (I kept expecting "Garter sing, garter dance!") but is ultimately wasted. Ruggles went through most of his film career with an annoying little moustache; midway through 'Queen High', he trades it for some annoying sideburns. For once, Ruggles isn't typecast as a meek husband; here, he earnestly courts Betty Garde and shows some backbone. He's also pursued by Nina Olivette, who's quite pretty but she's lumbered with a hideous hairstyle and even worse dialogue ... which is written in some horribly phony bad grammar that's vaguely prole American and vaguely prole British but really from Movie Cliché-Land. In one scene Ruggles cries her 'Australian', but she's definitely no Ozzie sheila, too right. (Another IMDb reviewer is mistaken; it's Olivette, not Garde, who plays the 'harassed maid'.)

The two best songs here were written for the movie, both with lyrics by Yip Harburg: "Brother, Just Laugh It Off" (tune by Ralph Rainger) and "I Love the Girls in My Own Peculiar Way" (Henry Souvaine). The latter is a bizarre ditty in which Ruggles claims to be a serial killer of women. He's not much of a singer; he gets one of Yip Harburg's trademark wordplays -- "When you get pneumonia, I'll 'phone ya" -- but Ruggles clearly enunciates "phone YOU", queering the rhyme. He also mistreats a black laundress.

In the opening shot, William Steiner's camera trundles forward lugubriously, twiddles its casters awhile, then trundles back again. The rest of the camera-work is merely adequate, except for one impressive set-up with Ruggles in a doorway. There's an attempt to give Stanley Smith an "entrance" by staging his first scene with his head hidden, gradually revealing his face. William Saulter's set designs throughout are excellent, especially a very convincing sequence on a New York subway platform and aboard the rush-hour train. Frank Morgan's tycoon character and his wife have a huge mansion, with twin beds about twelve feet apart.

Modern viewers get the usual old-movie reminders that money's not what it used to be: in 'Queen High', Mrs Rockwell has an annual income of $6,000 yet serves her guests caviare.

Most of the dialogue (from the original play) is quite witty, though we get a few clunkers. An orchestra musician plays "second bass", so we know this is the set-up for a baseball joke. Still, any movie that ends with a lawyer getting chucked into a pond can't be all bad.

There's an acetate print of "Queen High" in the Library of Congress, duped from a bad nitrate print; the soundtrack pops, and many scenes are dark. In one dialogue sequence, Smith calls himself "red-headed", yet throughout the movie (this LoC print, at least) his hair looks jet-black. "Queen High" really isn't good enough to rank high on the list of films wanting restoration. This movie was released while Lon Chaney was on his deathbed, but I'll bet he wasn't dying to see it. The original 1914 play was titled 'A Pair of Sixes': I'll add one more six and rate this movie 6 out of 10.


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