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Once in a Lifetime (1932)

Passed | | Comedy | 2 October 1932 (USA)
Story of a Hollywood studio during the transition from silents to talkies.


Russell Mack


Moss Hart (play), George S. Kaufman (play) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Jack Oakie ... George Lewis
Sidney Fox ... Susan Walker
Aline MacMahon ... May Daniels
Russell Hopton ... Jerome 'Jerry' Hyland
Louise Fazenda ... Helen Hobart
Zasu Pitts ... Miss Leighton
Gregory Ratoff ... Herman Glogauer
Jobyna Howland ... Mrs. Walker
Onslow Stevens ... Lawrence Vail
Gregory Gaye ... Rudolph Kammerling
Eddie Kane Eddie Kane ... Meterstein
Johnnie Morris Johnnie Morris ... Weiskopf (as Johnny Morris)
Frank LaRue ... The Bishop
Margaret Lindsay ... Dr. Lewis' Secretary


Story of a Hollywood studio during the transition from silents to talkies.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Come see the funniest farce about the films ever filmed. Big comedy stars in the big star comedy! (Print Ad- Evening Post,((Wellington, NZ)) 6 April 1933)




Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

2 October 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Una vez en la vida See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Aline MacMahon created the role of May Daniels in the first tryout of the play. (Source: Moss Hart's autobiography 'Act One'.) See more »


Miss Leighton: [answering the phone] Miss Leighton at this end. Y-e-e-e-s. Oh, yes. Yes, he knows that you're waiting. How many days? Well, I'm afraid you'll just have to wait.
Miss Leighton: What? Oh, no you couldn't possibly see Mr. Glogauer. No, I can't make an appointment for you. Mr. Weiskopf makes all of Mr. Glogauer's appointments.
Miss Leighton: Oh, no, you can't see Mr. Weiskopf. You have to see him through Mr. Niederstein.
Miss Leighton: A what? Oh, my! No one ever sees Mr Niederstein.
[she hangs up]
Miss Leighton: .
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


Referenced in The Flash: Trial of the Trickster (1991) See more »


The Bridal Chorus
Music by Richard Wagner
See more »

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User Reviews

Mildly amusing.
27 July 2018 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Normally I don't write 'mildly amusing', but this time I did because one reviewer felt it was the funniest film ever. I would beg to differ, though we all have our opinions and I am glad they loved it that much. As for me, it had a few amusing moments.

The story begins with a group of three Vaudevillians are talking about the new sensation, talking pictures. The brains of the group (Aline MacMahon) suggests they capitalize on this by heading to Hollywood and pretending to be voice coaches. Soon, they get hired by a crackpot studio head and although George (Jack Oakie) is by far the dumbest of the group, he manages to have hit after hit!

Overall, this is a mildly funny comedy about the early days of talking pictures. The latter portion with Oakie is the best and occasionally portions of it fall a bit flat...and the third in the trio is about as charismatic as a shoe lace. But, overall well worth seeing...particularly if you love old films.

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