President Franklin Roosevelt appoints a theatrical producer as the new Secretary of Amusement in order to cheer up an American public still suffering through the Depression. The new secretary soon runs afoul of political lobbyists out to destroy his department.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
1,000 players and performers...Vocal chorus of 500...1,200 wild animals...5 great bands of music...4,891 costumes...335 scenes...500 dazzling beauties...6 song hits...5 breathtaking spectacles. (Print Ad-Leader-Post, ((Regina, sask.)) 31 May 1934) See more »
For the "Baby, Take a Bow" number with James Dunn, the studio felt it would be easier for Shirley Temple to do the dance she had done at her audition rather than learn a new one, so Temple spent her first day on the set giving Dunn dancing lessons. See more »
Now, Miss Monroe...
Oh, yes, step here a minute, will you, please... something I want to show you. There's one phase in this amusement campaign which I think you ought to understand. The zones in...
[overcome by her good looks, he stops]
Ah, of course I'm not.
I said I'm not beautiful.
Young woman, you're talking to Lawrence Cromwell... Lawrence Cromwell, the world's recognized authority on feminine beauty and charm. Do you mean to stand there and question my ...
[...] See more »
Different versions of this film exist, with various running times between 68 and 81 minutes. Some prints have deleted demeaning & outdated cultural depictions of African Americans that are offensive to modern audiences, including scenes with _Stepin Fetchit_ and _Tess Gardella_ in blackface as "Aunt Jemima". See more »
She's 'Way Up Thar
Words and Music by Lew Brown
Performed by Dick Foran
c. 1934 Movietone Music Corportation See more »
stay seated but cheer
The portrayals of African American characters in this movie are, as has been pointed out, stereotypical, but I would like to suggest that where the actors themselves are allowed to show their talents, they transcend the stereotypes in ways even the filmmakers themselves recognized.
Take, for example, the show-stopping finale to "I'm Laughing," performed by Tess Gardella. There are a series of tableaux in this number, of various individuals all representing different marginalized groups: Immigrants, sweatshop workers, laborers of all kinds, all leading up to Tess Gardella herself busting out with the biggest, cheeriest performance of all, surrounded by a rousing, dancing chorus. It was clearly meant to recap the song's theme--if I can laugh, as downtrodden as I am, so can you--and to embody those who persevere and triumph over circumstance. With a swish of her ample hips and a gleam in her eye, Ms. Gardella triumphs.
The standard Stepin Fetchit routine has been analyzed everywhere, but let me just add that in this picture, the actor personifies African American resistance. In 1934 Black men were still not free from the vicious system of racial etiquette known as Jim Crow, and were therefore limited in the number of personae they were allowed to display. The genius of Stepin Fetchit is that he acts out the prescribed social role while frustrating those who prescribe it by withholding his intelligence and personality from the social interaction altogether. He slyly gives white people exactly what they demand,nothing more, forcing them to realize that perhaps that's not what they want after all. The resistance is his and the joke is on them.
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