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Kentucky Moonshine (1938)

Approved | | Comedy, Music, Romance | 20 May 1938 (USA)
Tony Martin goes to Kentucky to find talent to boost radio ratings. There it is learned that the Ritz brothers are really from New York and only pretending to be hillbillies to get on Martin's show.


David Butler


M.M. Musselman (original story and screenplay), Jack Lait Jr. (story) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Ritz Brothers ... The Ritz Brothers
Harry Ritz ... Harry Ritz (as Ritz Brothers)
Tony Martin ... Jerry Wade
Jimmy Ritz ... Jimmy Ritz (as Ritz Brothers)
Al Ritz ... Al Ritz (as Ritz Brothers)
Marjorie Weaver ... Caroline
Slim Summerville ... Hank Hatfield
John Carradine ... Reef Hatfield
Wally Vernon ... Gus Bryce
Berton Churchill ... J.B
Eddie Collins Eddie Collins ... 'Spats' Swanson
Cecil Cunningham ... Landlady
Paul Stanton ... Mortimer Hilton
Mary Treen ... 'Sugar' Hatfield
Francis Ford ... Grandpa Hatfield


Radio star Jerry Wade's program ratings are falling and he suggests to his sponsors a show that is different and he goes to Kentucky to find an idea. Caroline, a Kentucky girl in New York trying to crash into radio, learns of Wade's quest and takes her three friends, Harry, Jimmy and Al Ritz, also aspiring to show-business fame, to Kentucky with her, where Wade discovers them in beards, guns, feuds, moonshine and every cliché that fits hillbillies. He stages a broadcast from the hills, which is not heard because of technical difficulties. He takes the whole troupe back to New York with him. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Music | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

20 May 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Men and a Girl See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Reels three and four were originally tinted in sepia and blue. See more »


Comedy Songs
Written by Ray Golden and Sid Kuller
Performed by The Ritz Brothers
See more »

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User Reviews

Pistol Packin' Ritzes
31 May 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Kentucky Moonshine gives the Brothers Ritz an opportunity to carry a film with star billing. Unfortunately they don't rise to the occasion and even Darryl Zanuck pads the film with young lovers Tony Martin and Marjorie Weaver.

In these programming decisions that are made sometime, radio executives are worried about band-leader/singer Tony Martin's slipping ratings. It seems there's a glut of swing music on the market. Tony gets the idea that maybe real hillbilly music and offers to go to the hills of Kentucky to find some real hillbilly acts.

Marjorie Weaver who's waiting outside a casting office gets wind of the scheme and goes back to Kentucky where she's actually from to be discovered. Her fellow boarders at a theatrical rooming house the Ritz Brothers go back to the hills of Eastern Kentucky with her though they'd really be more at home in the East New York section of Brooklyn.

Of course after a series of mishaps it all works out in the end. The last fifteen minutes or so of the film are exclusively the Ritz Brothers as they take over Martin's program with their usual brand of monkeyshines. Included in that is a Ritz dramatization of Snow White with bits of the Disney score that Mr. Zanuck probably had to shell out big bucks for.

The problem the Ritz Brothers have is that unlike the Three Stooges or the three Marx Brothers, the Ritzes themselves have no individual personality. There stuff at times can be funny and it's amusing here. But it's not the stuff classic comedy is made.

Tony Martin begins the film with a version of the Prologue from Pagliacci which was a hit for him and which he later sang in Two Tickets to Broadway. He was trying a mustache for this film which he promptly discarded. The rest of the musical score is singularly unoriginal.

I'm sure no one left the theater in 1938 when Kentucky Moonshine was showing with one of 20th Century Fox's A budget features. Still it's not likely to be discovered and herald a revival of the Ritz Brothers.

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