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According to the scribes at a big movie studio with Fox in its logo, it is the big season at the track. While some of the boys are not doing so well it is rumored that the Ritz brothers are to make a big killing on a hay-burner named "Playboy,". Now it is also rumored that the nag is owned by Barbara Drake. It is further mused around that she has a rich father who goes by the moniker of Mr. Drake. However, he is otherwise known to all and sundry as 'The Grump' as he is always ready to share his disposition with any unlucky citizen that may wander by. Barbara is sweet on a guy named Denny who is an all-around good citizen, who also likes Barbara in return. Barbara is jealous of a torch singer named Linda. Denny does not care to run in competition with any hay-burner and makes it plain that he has no intentions to share his girl's ever-loving affection with "Playboy." Denny wagers Barbara that her horse will not win a race in three months. If he does Denny will build him a stable right ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
OUR FIRST VIEWING of the act that was the Brothers Ritz was on that old, now classic NBC sports/comedy hybrid, JACKPOT BOWLING WITH MILTON BERLE. Don't feel bad if you don't recall or have never heard of it.
THE FORMAT OF this series was to cover real, live pro bowlers, with a sort of intermission in which the guest star(s) would come on, do a little schtick with "Uncle Miltie" before rolling one ball for charity. (Hmm, could it be rebooted ?)
AS FOR THE film being reviewed, STRAIGHT, PLACE AND SHOW (20th Century-Fox, 1938) was a comical farce which pretty much was a typical representation of the sort of fare being done in that era. It had the comic team, the romantic interest and a fanciful, yet compelling, plot toward the notion of getting rich quick. This is always a winning formula, especially when there was still a Depression on in the country.
THE PRODUCTION TEAM manages to adapt a story by Damon Runyon and capitalize on the nation's love of horse racing. They throw in, just for good measure, a brief junket into the squared circle World of Professional Wrestling. Rather than being just a reason to have Harry Ritz do a comic impersonation of a pro grappler, this, sort of sidebar to the plot, helps in moving the story along.
ADDITIONALLY, WE FIND in the cast Phyllis Brooks and Ethel Merman. They provided the romantic sub-plot; with Miss Merman's singing making its contribution to our entertainment (not!)
SOME HAVE CALLED the Ritz Brothers a sort of road show or imitation of the Max Brothers (be they in the original 4 or later 3). We maintain that this could not be further from the truth. Both groups were actual, blood brothers; who just happened to be Jewish.* That's the end of their similarities.
WHEREAS THE MARX boys displayed their madcap zaniness in a fast-paced, rapid fire style, they still maintained individuality and distinctive personality. With the Ritz Brothers. the pace was no slower. But viewing them was like seeing things in triplicate. The singing, eccentric dance maneuvers and the distorted displays of mugging were all well coordinated and uniformly displayed.
OUTSIDE OF VIEWING this picture or others in their list, a very good impression of the Ritz comic genius can be seen on display in THE AUTOGRAPH HOUND (Walt Disney/RKO, 1939. This is a Donald Duck starring vehicle; which uses caricature of many Hollywood luminaries, including a very accurate at the Ritz Brothers brand of humor on the screen.
Bye, bye for now !
NOTE: * Someone once asked Jack Benny why all comedians seemed to be either Jewish or Irish. Jack thought for a brief moment, then replied; "Ever meet a funny Lutheran ?"
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