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Hitting a New High (1937)

Lili Pons and Jack Oakie star as a nightclub singer with aspires to be an opera diva and the met star whom she chases all the way to a safari in Africa to make her dreams come true in this wacky musical comedy.


Raoul Walsh


Robert Harari (story), Maxwell Shane (story) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Lily Pons ... Suzette, aka Oogahunga, the Bird-Girl
Jack Oakie ... Corny Davis
John Howard ... Jimmy James
Eric Blore ... Cedric Cosmo, aka Captain Braceridge Hemingway
Edward Everett Horton ... Lucius B. Blynn
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Andreas Mazzini
Luis Alberni ... Luis Marlo
Vinton Hayworth ... Carter Haig (as Jack Arnold)
Leonard Carey ... Jervons, Blynn's Butler


Lili Pons and Jack Oakie star as a nightclub singer with aspires to be an opera diva and the met star whom she chases all the way to a safari in Africa to make her dreams come true in this wacky musical comedy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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English | French

Release Date:

24 December 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

De zangvogel van Broadway en Parijs See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film lost considerable money at the box office. Lily Pons never made another non-concert film. See more »


A Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo is seen in the African jungle when Oogahunga is found. Later on, Mazzini refers to Oogahunga as an "Egyptian Cockatoo". Cockatoos are native to Australia and some islands to its north, and are not found in Africa. A cockatoo is also seen later in Blynn's house as a pet, but this is not unusual, as cockatoos have been imported to the USA and kept as pets for many years. See more »


This Never Happened Before
Music by Jimmy McHugh (as James McHugh)
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Played during the opening credits
Sung by Lily Pons and chorus at the Café Elysée
See more »

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User Reviews

showcase for Lily Pons
10 October 2015 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

In the old days, studios would bring opera stars into movies. Some were successful - Nelson Eddy, Jeanette McDonald, Grace Moore, Lawrence Tibbett, Lauritz Melchior, Tony Martin, Mario Lanza and others. A few made a stab at it but weren't quite right. Lily Pons is one of those.

When Pons was in her sixties, I was a young student studying voice and for some reason my mother was always throwing her in my face. I have no idea why - she would occasionally show up at a gala and there's no way she had any high notes at that age - your cords thicken - so I have no idea what she was doing.

Anyway, she was very famous. For some reason, again in the old days, opera houses didn't mind that these singers had voices the size of a mosquito. Unreal.

Pons stars here in "Hitting a New High" from 1937. She plays Suzette, who sings with her boyfriend's (John Howard) band, but her heart is in opera, and she wants an audition with the great opera impresario Mr. Mazzini (Eduardo Cianelli) desperately. When she meets a big patron's assistant Corny (Jack Oakie), she tells him that she will do anything to get in to see Mr. Mazzini.

Corny arranges for his boss Lucius Blynn (Edward Everett Horton) to "discover" Suzette in the jungle and bring her back to New York. When he first sees her, she is singing to the birds and can't speak English. They call her the "Bird Girl."

Blynn brings her back to New York, fixes her up with a vocal coach, and then tries to convince Mazzini to hear her. Suzette has gotten a lot of publicity as the Bird Girl but her boyfriend Jimmy insists that she sing with his band in the evening. One night, Mazzini hears her and thinks he's made a great discovery.

The movie was amusing, thanks to Eric Blore as a band member who tries to get money from Blynn by saying he's Bird Girl's long lost father, Edward Everett Horton, and Jack Oakie.

Pons sings Air du Rossignol, Je suis Titania, and the Mad Scene from Lucia. Pons was a smart woman and very fashionable; she was pretty and petite. Her signature role was Lakme, which is not done much today.

Pons was a true coloratura, the highest soprano voice, and stuck with those roles. She did not have much of a middle voice; real coloraturas don't. She did have an excellent, fast coloratura technique; some of her high notes were better than others. She could be a very exciting singer.

Like many female singers from that era, her voice was small. But at least she stuck to her repertoire - I mean, Jeanette MacDonald sang Tosca which is ridiculous. She retired in 1973 - I have no idea what she sang at that point.

This film was a major flop, and Pons' last that wasn't a "concert film." Well, my mother always liked her.

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