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Wonder Bar (1934)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Musical | 31 March 1934 (USA)
Harry and Inez are a dance team at the Wonder Bar. Inez loves Harry, but he is in love with Liane, the wife of a wealthy business man. Al Wonder and the conductor/singer Tommy are in love ... See full summary »

Director:

Lloyd Bacon

Writers:

Geza Herczeg (based on the play by), Karl Farkas (based on the play by) | 2 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Jolson ... Al Wonder
Kay Francis ... Liane
Dolores del Rio ... Inez (as Dolores Del Rio)
Ricardo Cortez ... Harry
Dick Powell ... Tommy
Guy Kibbee ... Simpson
Ruth Donnelly ... Mrs. Simpson
Hugh Herbert ... Pratt
Louise Fazenda ... Mrs. Pratt
Hal Le Roy ... Dancer
Fifi D'Orsay ... Mitzi
Merna Kennedy ... Claire
Henry O'Neill ... Richard - the Maitre'd
Robert Barrat ... Captain Hugo Von Ferring
Henry Kolker ... Mr. R.H. Renaud
Edit

Storyline

Harry and Inez are a dance team at the Wonder Bar. Inez loves Harry, but he is in love with Liane, the wife of a wealthy business man. Al Wonder and the conductor/singer Tommy are in love with Inez. When Inez finds out, that Harry wants to leave Paris and is going to the USA with Liane she kills him. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Warner Bros.' Wonder Show of the Century!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 March 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cabaret trágico See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$675,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One scene gave the censors some consternation: A man asks a couple if he can cut into their dance, and while the woman says, "Sure!" and rushes towards him, he dances away with her partner. Upon hearing this, Al Jolson says with a twinkle in his eye: "Boys will be boys!" Warner Brothers refused to cut the scene (and it exists today in the Turner Classic Movies print). At the time, the Production Code was not rigorously enforced. Surprisingly, however, the movie was approved for reissue in 1936 despite this homosexual scene and the fact that someone gets away with murder, both clear violations of the Production Code. See more »

Quotes

Al Wonder: [rolls eyes as two men dance off together] Boys will be boys, woooo!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits appear as the respective actors enter the nightclub through a revolving door. See more »


Soundtracks

You're So Divine
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Used instrumentally only (after "Don't Say Good-Night" sequence)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the last of the precodes...
21 November 2009 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

...and a great film come-back vehicle for Al Jolson. This film was released on March 31, 1934, just three months before the production code began to be enforced. As such, it is a buffet of items one would never see on film again in the U.S. until the 1960's - adultery as comedy, gigolos, a pair of men dancing with Jolson making the remark "Boys will be Boys", a dancing act involving a woman being whipped, what amounts to house-sponsored prostitution to keep the Wonder Bar's male patrons amused, a suicide that everyone knows about in advance and nobody bothers to stop, and a murder that goes unpunished and even undetected for that matter. However, this film is much more than just a last hurrah for the pre-code years, and I found it quite enjoyable. It is an intersection of Grand Hotel, the world's greatest entertainer, Al Jolson, and that genius of choreography, Busby Berkeley, with plenty of action and snappy dialogue to keep things going.

Of course, it is very ironic that the one part of the film that leaves everyone shocked today is probably one of the few things that the Hays Office had no problem with - that well-known musical number "Going to Heaven on a Mule". It is exactly what you would expect when the over-the-top style of Busby Berkeley's choreography meets the minstrel tradition of Al Jolson's musical style. Every racial stereotype in the book is in this musical number, and it was omitted on the VHS release of this film but was kept in the laser disc Jolson set. That's probably because laser disc was seen as specialty product whereas the VHS release was seen as something for consumption by the masses. The Warner Archives is also seen as a niche market, so the number is included in that DVD-R release. I am glad of that, because the present will never be made better by trying to erase or adjust the past, no matter how uncomfortable it may make people feel.

Highly recommended as great classic movie fun, if you can just remember that this film was made in 1934, not last week.


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