The screenwriter-lyricist, Anne Caldwell, was a Broadway heavyweight who had written with Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert, and other greats. Her lyrics and libretti are often clever and original, but this one's trite, derivative, and, by today's standards, offensive. We're in 1840s New Orleans, on a plantation populated by happy slaves who keep crooning "Mr. and Mrs. Sippi" ("I miss you so, I's jes' dippy"), which desperately wants to be "Ol' Man River" and isn't. Plantation scion Everett Marshall, a Met baritone with a fine voice and an odd face, loves Dixiana (Bebe Daniels), who is welcomed by his family until she reveals she's a circus performer. Her pals Wheeler and Woolsey, with subpar material, buck her up, and some meaningless plot complications happen to keep the young lovers apart until fadeout. Laid out much like a stage musical of the era, it veers between operetta, musical comedy, and farce (the W&W sections, which are boosted by the presence of the always-adorable Dorothy Lee). Anything Caldwell thinks will work, she puts in, and the screenplay wanders all over the place without really going anywhere. Luther Reed's direction is stodgy, but the camera's pretty mobile for 1930, and if you can get around the happy-slaves motif, snarling villain, awkward comedy, and halfhearted plot-song integration, you'll see a lavish example of what the studios thought the public wanted at the dawn of sound. They were wrong--too many musicals saturated the market, this one lost a bundle, and soon theaters were advertising, "This is NOT a musical." I can't imagine a modern audience sitting through this, but if you're a historian or a fan of early talkies, do seek this one out. Also, the UCLA restoration is pretty stunning.