5.4/10
262
12 user 3 critic

The Duke Is Tops (1938)

Approved | | Musical | 1 September 1938 (USA)
A theatrical producer puts aside his own success to boost the career of a talented singer.

Directors:

William L. Nolte (as William Nolte), Ralph Cooper (uncredited)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Cooper Ralph Cooper ... Duke Davis
Lena Horne ... Ethel Andrews
Laurence Criner Laurence Criner ... Doc Dorando (as Lawrence Criner)
Monte Hawley Monte Hawley ... George Marshall
Willie Covan Willie Covan ... Specialty Tap Dancer
Neva Peoples Neva Peoples ... Ella
Vernon McCalla Vernon McCalla ... Mason (as Vernon McCallum)
Edward Thompson Edward Thompson ... Ferdie Fenton
Johnny Taylor Johnny Taylor ... Dippy, 'Prince Alakazoo'
Ray Martin Ray Martin ... Joe
Guernsey Morrow Guernsey Morrow ... Ed. Lake (as Guersney Morrow)
Charles Hawkins Charles Hawkins ... Sam, the Stage Manager (as Charlie Hawkins)
Basin Street Boys Basin Street Boys ... Speciality
Rubberneck Holmes Rubberneck Holmes ... Specialty (as Rubber Neck Holmes)
Cats and the Fiddle Cats and the Fiddle ... Speciality
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Storyline

Duke Davis has invested all his savings to back his sweetheart, Ethel, in a road show over the old T.O.B.A. circuit, on which they have both been performers since childhood. Marshall, a New York talent scout, makes an offer to Ethel as a single and, to induce her to take it, Duke writes a fake check, made out to him, for $5000 pretending he has sold his contract with Ethel to Marshall. Resentful and heartbroken, she accepts and becomes a big hit in New York. Marshall then books her at the swanky Century Club, plans her show himself, and it flops miserably. Meanwhile, Duke has used his last resources to start a new show, but without Ethel it also fails. He joins the Doc Dorando medicine show, and with him as the speiler for the quack elixir sold by Dorando, it is successful. He becomes Doc's partner with an elaborate trailer and a company of entertainers, including Willie Covans, the Basin Street Boys, The Cats and the Fiddle, "Rubberneck" Holmes and Joe Stevenson. Money is rolling in ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Musical

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 September 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bronze Venus See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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

In the backstage scenes before " Blackberry Baby" all the text on the signage is reversed, indicating the film had an error in editing at some point, splicing that strip back on backwards. See more »

Quotes

Duke Davis: I had a patient, come to me, a little fellow with a glass eye. He didn't tell me it was a glass eye, of course. It happened to come out - during the conversation.
See more »

Connections

Featured in It's Black Entertainment (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Don't Let Our Love Song Turn Into a Blues
(uncredited)
Sung by Lena Horne
See more »

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User Reviews

Lena Is Tops
25 September 2000 | by SchlockmeisterSee all my reviews

A great look at the black entertainment industry in 1938. A young Lena Horne shines in her performance as Ethel, a singer who makes her way to the 'big time'. Ralph Cooper plays her boyfriend Duke who is also involved in the entertainment business. As the film progresses, Duke and Erthel are separated and Duke throws his lot in with a travelling medicine show with the esteemed Doctor Dorando, played wonderfully by Laurence Criner. The time with the medicine show is one of this movies treasures as it gives the audience a rare look at how an actual medicine show operated around the South back then. Special musical guests are presented (great guitarist featured by the way...), the spiel is given and the medicine sells.

As one of the stage performers shown on stage early in the movie, look for the fantastic moves of "Rubberneck Holmes". Don't worry, you will recognize him.

A lot of these 'race movies' are a fantastic look at wonderful performers that were never presented in mainstream Hollywood. This movie is worth seeing.


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