5.4/10
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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

Shot in ten days. See more »

Quotes

Doc Dorando: Duplicate the order, young woman, and keep my eggs honest, lookin' me in the face.
Waitress: [to the kitchen] Another order of ham and eggs, sunny up.
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Soundtracks

Don't Let Our Love Song Turn Into a Blues
(uncredited)
Sung by Lena Horne
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User Reviews

 
entertaining window on life as it was
26 February 2018 | by rodinnycSee all my reviews

I watched this on CUNY TV. I was curious and stayed because it had enough elements to be entertaining. Ralph Cooper is handsome and likable. I didn't even realize that Lena Horne was the beautiful singer. I thought she was a Lena Horne knock off. She seems to have been required to slim down and had better glamour treatment in Hollywood films. Interesting because of its use of black actors and performers in ways they couldn't be shown in film other than those made for black audience. Talented singers and dancers and a window into what the TOBA houses were like in the south. And an extended snake oil routine of the rural south. Even the diner with its ham and eggs special is interesting as an historic window on life eighty years ago. I'm glad Lena Horne was able to make it out of this niche market even if she was still relatively isolated in the roles she could play.


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