Jimmy idolizes bootlegger Matt, and when he refuses to implicate his friend, he is sent to reform school. He befriends Shorty, a boy with a heart condition, and escapes to let the world know about the brutal conditions.
I don't know anything about elocution.
You don't know anything about anything, George, and if what they say about the movies is true, you'll go far.
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The opening credits are followed by a written message from producer Carl Laemmle saying critics had questioned whether he would use the material that "so mercilessly and so hilariously poked fun at Hollywood and its motion picture people." But, he says, laughter is needed "in times like these." See more »
I am 59 years old; I have seen a lot of movies; "Once in a Lifetime" is the funniest film I have ever seen.
In the 1960s, when I was in high school in suburban Philadelphia, the local public television station broadcast this Kaufman and Hart play brought to the screen in 1932 with a brio that made it impossible to stop laughing.
The story concerns a Vaudeville troop unable to make a living because films had destroyed Vaudeville. Then, after seeing the "Jazz Singer," the troop members decide to head for Hollywood to open an elocution school for actors eager to speak acceptably for the newly-developed medium of talking pictures.
I have only seen this movie that one time, but every time I hear the word "elocution," I think of "Once in a Lifetime" and remember the train scene where a 9 year-old girl walks up and down the train reciting, "'Boots' by Rudyard Kipling 'Boots, boots, boots .'"
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