Western sheriff Bob Wells is preparing to marry Sally Morgan; she loves part-Indian Wanenis, whose race is an obstacle. Sally flees the wedding with hypochondriac Henry Williams, who thinks...
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Western sheriff Bob Wells is preparing to marry Sally Morgan; she loves part-Indian Wanenis, whose race is an obstacle. Sally flees the wedding with hypochondriac Henry Williams, who thinks he's just giving her a ride; but she left a note saying they've eloped! Chasing them are jilted Bob, Henry's nurse Mary (who's been trying to seduce him) and others.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Based on a Broadway show produced by Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.. "Whoopee" opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York on Monday, December 4th, 1928 and ran for 407 performances. Unfortunately, Ziegfeld lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929. At the time, "Whoopee" was still playing to full houses on Broadway. To bail himself out, Ziegfeld closed the show on Saturday, November 23rd, 1929 and sold the movie rights to Samuel Goldwyn. It is believed that the Broadway show could have run for another year. See more »
Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
Written by Richard Wagner
A few bars played in the "Today's the Day" number See more »
"Cheaper, just to keep her than Making Whoopee"
In terms of cast the film Whoopee is a considerably cut down version of the Broadway show. That could be said of the Donaldson-Kahn score as well. But in terms of the film it was a valiant attempt, a trial run at making the musical not just a photographed stage play. For that effort Whoopee got an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction.
Before Eddie Cantor starred in the musical version of Whoopee on Broadway which ran for 407 performances in the 1928-29 season, it had been a straight comedy play The Nervous Wreck which ran for 279 shows in the 1923-24 season. I have to confess I was a little shocked when I saw that Otto Kruger had played Cantor's role of Henry Williams, the nervous hypochondriac who went west seeking a cure for his multitude of ailments. I sure didn't see that coming.
In any event Whoopee has Cantor at a dude ranch with his private nurse Ethel Shutta who was also repeating her role from Broadway. His good friend an Indian played by Paul Williams has an unrequited love for Eleanor Hunt and she him. But the racial differences make this romance impossible at least on the stage and screen of the Twenties. She's engaged to marry the sheriff John Rutherford, but rather than do that she tricks poor Cantor the schnook into running off with her. That leads all on a merry chase throughout the film.
Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn wrote the score for Whoopee on stage and screen and of course Eddie Cantor's big number was his classic Making Whoopee. Even today this salute to the phrase 'cheaper to keep her' carries a lot of laughs. Donaldson and Kahn wrote some new songs including another that Cantor introduced on screen that also became associated with him throughout his career, My Baby Just Cares For Me.
Ethel Shutta was quite a performer herself and this is the only time we can see her in her prime as she competes with Cantor for laughs and does some nice dancing in the Stetson number. She was married to orchestra leader George Olsen who led the pit orchestra on Broadway for Whoopee and accompanies on the soundtrack in this film.
This film also introduced Busby Berkeley to the silver screen and according to Herbert Goldman's biography of Cantor, it was Cantor who persuaded Sam Goldwyn to hire Berkeley. His numbers are nicely staged though he wasn't anywhere near his peak creative years with Warner Brothers.
On Broadway Ruth Etting had a specialty part and introduced what became her theme song in Love Or Leave Me. Sadly Ruth and the song got eliminated from the film and that is a pity. If you remember the part that Patrice Wymore played in the Gus Kahn biographical film I'll See You In My Dreams her role was based on a combination of Etting and Clara Bow.
Sadly Whoopee does bow to the racial and racist mores of its time. A solution to the marital problems is found that would not fly today.
Despite that Whoopee is worth seeing in order to see one the great performers of the 20th Century in a role that Eddie Cantor made his own.
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