Strike Me Pink (1936) Poster

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Strike your funny bone.
mark.waltz23 November 2002
The fifth and final movie of Broadway star Eddie Cantor's films for producer Sam Goldwyn's independent production company, it was considered the weakest by critics and fans at the time. Even Leonard Maltin gives this a low rating compared to the three stars (out of four) he gives to the other Cantor films. While certainly not as much of a classic, it is certainly entertaining enough to warrant study in this era of Adam Sandler/Jim Carrey comedys.

Always typecast as the scaredy cat milquetoast, Eddie Cantor continues in that mold here as a laundrymat employee who ends up becoming manager of an amusement park owned by a feisty little old lady (Helen Lowell). It seems that the previous managers have all met with fatal accidents thanks to a racket that wants to install pinball machines in the park against the old ladies wishes. When Cantor manages to show a little more verve in front of the old lady and her daughter (Sally Eilers, a sadly forgotten actress), he is offered position of manager of the park, and celebrates with his pal by visiting his favorite singer, Georgia (Ethel Merman) who flirts with him in order to get him to install the pinball machines for her gangster friends.

There are several memorable production numbers which use the Busby Berkley style flare for overhead shots previously used in the Cantor musicals which Berkley choreographed: "Whoopee"; "Palmy Days"; and "The Kid From Spain". Other choreographers took over the reigns for his last three Goldwyn pictures, and here, Roy Del Ruth gets the job. Cantor's "The Lady Dances" production number at the amusement park is very elaborate, although it is Merman's "Shake It Off With Rhythm" that stands out here especially with the dancer whos shadow in the well-polished nightclub floor does her own steps. And when the bevy of chorus girls (thanks to the obvious presence of other chorus girls beneath them) start a dance while sitting on the floor, the number goes into the Hollywood musical books as one of the wackiest production numbers in film history. Merman and Cantor also sing a duet while on a ferris wheel which shows them with old-age make-up. Audiences familiar with Merman's later Broadway, film, and TV appearances will find it amusing to see young Merman (then 27) in old lady disguise.

Merman also sings a torchy number (with chorus) at the beginning that is well photographed but not at all in the same league with her big number. The two big production numbers are topped by a riotous finale (later used in "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood") where Cantor tries to flee from the rackateers (one of whom is William Frawley, aka Fred Mertz) by escaping on a rollercoaster. Of course, all sorts of visual comedy takes place, turning it into a fast-moving and laugh-filled ending. There really isn't a lot of Merman here; She is more a red-herring in the plot than anything else. Helen Lowell, as the old lady, is a live action version of tweety bird's owner; All she is missing is the bird and cage. Parkyakarkus, a popular radio comedian at the time (who also had a brief movie career), is stupidly annoying, a stereotypical foreigner (apparently Greek) who lacks in too many brain cells to be a body guard. Fortunately, he pops in and out of the action so fast he doesn't have time to really become distracting from the wonderful Cantor.

While the film is certainly not a classic, it is enjoyable enough to give a few laughs and smiles thanks to the fine musical numbers. While comedy today is focusing on more sexually explicit gags for more shock value (chickens being used to humiliate the law and Hitler in hell in a tu-tu with a pineapple for a special decoration come instantly to mind in today's comedys), films like "Strike It Pink" focus on a gentler and less crude style to get their laughs. Hopefully, it will turn up on cable or on the late show where they still show old movies rather than infomercials, so today's film students or fans of classic comedy can get an opportunity to enjoy it.
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Valiant is the Word for Eddie
lugonian3 July 2003
STRIKE ME PINK (Samuel Goldwyn/United Artists, 1936), directed by Norman Taurog, no relation to the 1933 musical play but based on Clarence Budington-Kelland's the Saturday Evening Post story/ novel, "Dreamland," marks the sixth and final screen collaboration of Eddie Cantor for producer Samuel Goldwyn, and Cantor's second opposite Ethel Merman. Unlike their previous effort in KID MILLIONS (1934), where Cantor and Merman were equally balanced,Cantor dominates in both story and comedy department while Merman, through her limited scenes duping Cantor into believing she's a damsel in distress, taking center stage with her vocalizing and addressing Eddie as "My Hero!" STRIKE ME PINK also goes on record as the only Goldwyn musical where Cantor doesn't perform in black-face.

The story begins at Millwood University where Eddie Pink (Eddie Cantor), a timid and cowardly tailor who finds himself constantly bullied by the students. He is befriended by "Butch" Carson (Gordon Jones), a fellow student who's strong with his fists by fighting Eddie's battles, but weak on brains when it comes to his studies. Eddie's weakness is Joyce Lennox (Ethel Merman), a famous night club singer whose photographs he keeps taped behind closet doors. Aside from helping Butch (a college student for seven years) to pass the final exams, Eddie works on being a strong and fearless through a mail ordered a book, "Man or Mouse: What Are You?" a record and a coin with a man on one side and a mouse on the other. After studying the book from cover to cover, Eddie gains some confidence as instructed through the use of his magnetic finger, magnetic eye and magnetic stand. After Butch miraculously graduates from college, the two come to Dreamland, an amusement park his widowed mother owns. Rather than assuming ownership of the park, Butch enlists four years in the Navy instead, leaving Eddie in charge with Claribel Hayes (Sally Eilers) acting as his over protective secretary. While assuming control of dreamland, Eddie proves his bravery when faced by Vance (Brian Donlevy), a mob boss and his hired thugs consisting of Copple (William Frawley); the knuckle cracking Thrust (Jack LaRue); Marsh (Don Brodie); and Shelby (Charles McAvoy) wanting to insert 150 crooked slot machines on property, and, to make matters worse, Eddie has a hired G-Man (G standing for "Greek"), named Parkyakarkus acting as his bodyguard, who happens to be no help at all.

With the score by Harold Arlen and Lew Brown, and choreography by Robert Alton, the songs include: "High and Low" (sung by Ethel Merman); "The Lady Dances" (sung by Eddie Cantor, and sung and danced by Rita Rio/chorus); "Calabash Pipe" (sung by Eddie Cantor and Ethel Merman); and "Shake It Off With Rhythm" (sung by Ethel Merman). While the songs and staging are unmemorable, "High and Low" is interesting because of its Depression related theme with camera doing most of the movement, rather than the ensemble, capturing every angle in all directions as Merman, in Harlem setting, stands under a lighted street post surrounded by black dancers. For the musical finale, "Shake It Off With Rhythm" comes across as a lively "hot" / "jive" number performed at the Club Lido where Merman sings the tune and Sunnie O'Dea tap dances to her reflection on the mirrored dance floor.

Also in the supporting cast is Edward Brophy, normally as a dim-witted hood, continues to do so here as "Killer," the one hired to do "rub out" Eddie only to find they have one thing in common, the "Man or Mouse" book. Because Killer only read up to page 45 gives Eddie the advantage of giving him his magnetic eye. Fans of the 1950s' TV series, "The Abbott and Costello Show" will take notice of the early screen presence of Gordon ("Mike the Cop") Jones and Sidney ("Fields, the Landlord") Fields. Sharing no scenes together, Fields, also a comedy writer in his own right, assumes his role as Chorley, Joyce's supposedly "dead" brother whom Eddie later believes to be a ghost.

Although portions of its comedy presented appears forced or unfunny, the well stage and often hilarious climax near the end simply makes up for it. Lasting close to 20 minutes, it starting off with a chase between Eddie and the gangsters through the amusement park, followed by a wild roller-coaster ride, then hot air balloon and finally the more deft-defying stunts reminiscent to those bygone silent comedies of either Mack Sennett or Harold Lloyd.

While former American Movie Classics Bob Dorian in a 1992 broadcast of STRIKE ME PINK once mentioned that producer Samuel Goldwyn had originally purchased the property of "Dreamland" for comedian Harold Lloyd, it eventually went to Cantor instead. In fact, I can envision Lloyd instead of Cantor playing the cowardly hero in dangerous stunts for its climax as he did in the silent era. It might have worked out better. Who knows?

STRIKE ME PINK, formerly available on video cassette in the 1990s, had frequent cable television revivals over the years ranging from Christian Broadcast Network (the 1980s), The Nostalgia Channel (early 1990s), Turner Network Television (1992), American Movie Classics (1992-1994, with one final broadcast in 1998), and finally Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: April 7, 2006). In regards to comedy, STRIKE ME PINK is an enjoyable 100 minute romp that should not disappoint any avid Eddie Cantor fan. (***)
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Cantor Strikes Again
bkoganbing17 May 2006
Strike Me Pink has Eddie Cantor playing his usual schnook against the world character with the background of an amusement park.

Eddie runs a store near a college and he's constantly being bullied and would have been intimidated out of business but for perennial student Gordon Jones. Jones keeps the bullies at bay while Eddie learns some assertiveness training. When he graduates finally due to some help from Eddie the plan is for the two of them to go and run the amusement park his mom owns.

She's being bullied herself by some gangsters headed by Brian Donlevy who want to put slot machines in the park. Eddie's assertiveness training pays off albeit in some unusual ways.

Strike Me Pink is vintage Eddie Cantor when he was probably at the height of his popularity. He would be departing from Sam Goldwyn after this film and never was really showcased properly for film after his Goldwyn days were over. View some of Cantor's Goldwyn films next to what Danny Kaye later did and you can see the influence Cantor had on Kaye's style.

Ethel Merman plays the vamp for the second and last time with Eddie Cantor. She also was never better on screen than when paired with Cantor by Goldwyn. She was cast ironically by Cantor's daughter Marilyn who was a fan of her's after seeing her on Broadway and lobbied with Goldwyn. Marilyn was an adolescent at the time, but Goldwyn agreed with her and Merman was in Kid Millions and then Strike Me Pink. They have a really nice duet together in Calabash Pipe.

Cantor brought over some of his radio family for this film in the persons of Harry Einstein as the befuddled Greek, Parkyakarkus and Sidney Fields. Yes, that is the same harried landlord of Abbott and Costello in the Fifties. Fields was an old vaudeville pal of Cantor's who brought him out of that dying institution and put him on radio in front of the mike and also as a writer. With Gordon Jones who was Mike the Cop on Abbott and Costello that makes two A&C regulars in this film.

The chase scene through the amusement is the climax and according to a recent biography of Cantor, two stuntmen doubles suffered broken legs during the filming of that dangerous sequence. All to obtain a phonograph record where the bad guys have confessed their evil deeds.

If you want to see one of America's funniest men at the height of his popularity by all means catch Strike Me Pink when it is broadcast next.
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The last and the least of the Cantor-Goldwyn films.
lzf09 July 2002
If you have not seen "Whoopee!" or "Palmy Days" or "Kid Millions" or "Roman Scandals" or "The Kid from Spain", you may think that "Strike Me Pink" is a pretty funny comedy. However, compared to the films mentioned above, it just doesn't make it. Instead of writing for his usual "frightened and nervous little man" persona, Cantor is given a script which would be better suited to Harold Lloyd. The musical numbers, though serviceable, are not even close to the great songs introduced in the previous pictures. Casting Ethel Merman, so perfect in "Kid Millions", as the romantic lead was a total mistake. Parkyakarkus and Bill Frawley are descent comic foils for Cantor, but somehow it all seems a little contrived. If you have seen the other films Cantor made for Goldwyn, this one may be a little disappointing. Don't get me wrong! There are some funny bits in the film. It's certainly not a total disaster, but compared to the films which came before it, it leaves much to be desired.
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Strikes me funny bone
weezeralfalfa8 January 2017
The last of 6 films starring or including the inimical Eddie Cantor, produced by Sam Goldwyn Studios from 1930-36, which includes pre and post code films. It's also the only one that does not include a segment of Cantor in black face, if that's important to you. I suspect the inclusion of blackface is one reason why Cantor films have not been frequently shown on public TV. In 1937, he starred in a 20th Century-Fox film: "Äli Baba Goes to Town", which is also worth a look if you like his films in general.

We have several threads pursued. Eddy(Pink) plays his usual overly timid nerd character, who initially runs a shop where he offers various services, including a machine that breaks in new shoes. He gives up his shop to become the manager of the amusement park Dreamland. There, he gets mixed up with a gang who want to fill Dreamland with crooked slot machines, threatening to dispose of him like they did the last half dozen managers who refused to cooperate. Eddie is much helped and encouraged by his secretary Claribel(Sally Eilers).

Eddie has a fixation on nightclub singer Joyce Lennox (Ethel Merman). The slot machine gang figure out a way to use this obsession to blackmail Eddie into allowing the slot machines in Dreamland, Ethel being a friend of the gang.

To effectively deal with the gang and his other duties, Eddie mail orders a book and record to teach him self-confidence. In addition to assuming a confident stance in the face of adversity, he learns about "the magnetic eye"(one eye shut), the "magnetic stance" (leaning far forward) and the "magnetic finger"(arm and forefingers thrust forward)(This could be interpreted as a stab at self-help advisers, in general). Anyway, this approach seems to mesmerize his adversaries.

The last part involves a classic silent film-like chase of Eddie by the slot machine gang, including a race on a roller coaster, followed by a nail-biting balloon ride, then inadvertent participation in a trapeze act. All this time, Eddie is trying to protect a 78rpm recording of a full confession by the gang of murdering the prior managers, and the phoniness of the murder charge against Ethel. This whole sequence much reminds me of something silent film luminary Harold Lloyd might do.

The music and dancing is nothing special. Ethel sings "First You Have me High" on a pitch black stage, except for her face: too long and not interesting to me. Eddie sings "The Lady Dances" on stage, abetted by chorus girls and specialty dancer and singer Dona Drake(also known as Rita Rio), who wiggles and gyrates her body, along with dancing and singing. Then, Eddie and Ethel sing "Calabash Pipe" while atop a Ferris wheel, followed by their singing it while imagined senior citizens in a buggy. Later, Ethel sings "Shake it off with Rhythm", abetted by a dancing chorus, in a big production.

Dona Drake was a very light-skinned African American, who passed herself off as an exotic-looking Caucasian. She was very energetic, as shown in this film. Sometimes, as in this film, she was a specialist singer and/or dancer. In other films, such as the Crosby-Hope "The Road to Morocco", she had a significant role in the screenplay. Seems like she should have had a much more visible Hollywood career.

Of the 5 members of the shot machine gang, I was already familiar with Brian Donlevy, William Frawley, and Jack La Rue..... Harry Parke served as Eddie's supposed body guard, who popped up every now and then. When Eddie and Ethel took a boat ride through the pitch black Tunnel of Love, we hear kissing sounds, but Eddie protested that he didn't kiss her. Turns out it was Parke, hiding in the back seat. Parke also accompanied Eddie in that perilous balloon ride.

If you like Eddie's comedies in general, you should like this one, despite the disparaging remarks of some reviewers. Currently, it's part of a 4 film collection of Eddie's comedies, I can recommend.
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Delightful canter by Eddie Cantor
JohnHowardReid21 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the Saturday Evening Post serial, "Dreamland" by Clarence Buddington Kelland, this is a delightful Cantor vehicle, lavishly produced by Sam Goldwyn. In fact, Cantor did five movies for Goldwyn -- all of them top notch. This was the last, but by no means the least. In fact, I found it most entertaining. There are some wonderful moments. The scene I like best is the one in the snooty café where Gordon Jones ends up ordering pancakes with maple syrup. Running it close is the scene where Cantor spits the bullets out of his mouth. Or how about the card game with the ghosts? Running Cantor close for expertise is art director Richard Day. I love the notice on Pink's door which comes up as people enter the shop. And how about that rustic background against which Helen Lowell is introduced before she toddles across to the amusement park? The songs are a riot too, especially the one with the flash-forward which Cantor and Merman sing on top of the Ferris Wheel. And how about Merman's opening number with all those fantastically close close-ups photographed by Gregg Toland, who handled all the dances and the singing ensembles (the rest of the movie was photographed by Merritt Gerstadt)? In all, this entry is a delightful feast for Cantor fans! Count me in!
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A Lead Balloon
Handlinghandel10 April 2006
I usually like Eddie Cantor. And this has an agreeable supporting cast. But I found this a chore. Yes, the Dreamland amusement park is appealing. And it has some wonderful Harold Arlen songs. I love the one he and Ethel Merman sing about retiring to a farm. What a funny image that conjures up!

Merman is believable as a nightclub singer. But she isn't believable as a heartthrob. The dancing is fine but I found it hard not to compare it to the Warner's Berekely movies. And in comparison, it does not fare well.

Cantor's movies often have a strange charm. They're goofy but lovable. This one works way too hard. The final sequence seemed inept. I kept thinking how fabulous it would have been with Buster Keaton. Or with Harold Lloyd. With Cantor, it was as light as a cement cream puff.
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It started very well but after a while, I couldn't wait for this to end.
MartinHafer23 July 2009
I've seen quite a few Eddie Cantor films and some of them are wonderful films. However, Cantor also made a few clunkers--and STRIKE ME PINK is one of them.

The film starts out well. Cantor plays a milquetoast owner of a dry cleaning business. Because he's so afraid, he takes a correspondence course to make him an assertive man. This aspect of the film is pretty funny and I really was hooked.

When Cantor's friend graduates college, Cantor is offered a job running the amusement park owned by his friend's mother. They hire him because he acts tough and assertive--and they need that because hoods (led by Brian Donlevy and William Frawley) are trying to force the park to place crooked slot machines on the property. The last three managers all met with "unfortunate accidents" or just disappeared, so it looks as if Cantor is in over his head.

Again, so far so good--the set up is just fine and the film is a mildly amusing comedy. However, one problem is noticeable half-way through the film. While Cantor himself often sings cute little songs in his films, this time there are some Busby Berkely-like production numbers and the addition of a lady singer that frankly didn't work. The humor, at times, took a back seat to irrelevant musical numbers. The dumb plot involving the dark-haired lounge singer just didn't work at all.

By the middle of the film, the quality and humor started to fade. However, towards the end the film got really, really bad--like the writers had no idea what to do with the film. Going from a gentle comedy to a "wacky" and outrageous comedy just failed miserably. All too often, Cantor wasn't even in a scenes--just his stunt double. Additionally, with the awful roller coaster scene, too much of a reliance on rear-projection and dippy stunts sank the film. At this point, I just couldn't wait for it to end. It's a shame really, as I wanted to love this film--too bad it all turned to crap at the end.
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Shades of Busby
hsticker13 January 2014
Several numbers in the film are worth a look just because of the clear influence of Busby Berkeley. The numbers show sophistication and modernist sensibility very different from the tone and style of the rest of the material, and very Berkelesque. In the "High and Low" number,for example, filmed mostly in closeups, Merman's white skin is strongly silhouetted against her very black costume, which itself blends into the black background. Its a chiaroscuro effect highly reminiscent of Winnie Shaw's "Lullaby of Broadway" number in Gold Diggers of 1933.

Later, in "Shake Me Off With Rhythm", the shiny dance floor reflects the dancers so completely that a reflection begins to dance on its own, itself a reminder of Bojangles by Fred Astaire in Swingtime, which was released in the same year. At another point, dancers intertwine so that their one's arm become the other's legs and it becomes difficult to distinguish them, their intertwined bodies still reflected by the shiny floor in a very modernist composition. It all feels like Busby, off center, inventive, playful. Worth a look.
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Great concluding chase
thewisslers9 April 2006
I haven't seen the whole movie, but just happened upon the last 15 or 20 minutes on TCM. Most of this time was filled by a chase scene that was actually kind of exciting (though it strained credulity that Our Hero wasn't killed about 8 times) and often funny. I was often thinking, "How did they do that?" I don't know about the rest of the film, but his part was definitely worth seeing.

An interesting aspect of changing technology was that the object of the chase was to get/keep possession of a phonograph record, presumably the only copy of an important recorded conversation. It wouldn't have happened in the digital age!
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Cantor and Merman in an early, uneven musical effort...
Doylenf30 January 2007
EDDIE CANTOR was one of the most talented comedian/singers in Hollywood who never really got his due in films--except for a wonderful turn as lookalikes in THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS ('43). And ETHEL MERMAN is a great brassy singer from Broadway who never got her big chance in films either, except for CALL ME MADAM.

They don't really get their big chance here, either. It's an antiquated musical even though there is some great talent behind the scenes, as can be noted in the screen credits.

Cantor is the typical nerd, a tailor being bullied by college guys and rescued occasionally by his pal "Butch" (GORDON JONES). Cantor is being ribbed all the time for his crush on night-club singer ETHEL MERMAN, whose photos are posted all over his shop. He plays the sort of character that would inevitably fall to the Harold Lloyds and Danny Kayes of the show biz world--or, for that matter, Bob Hope who specialized in being a cowardly foil for the villainous thugs.

A young BRIAN DONLEVY has an early role as one of the thugs who wants to put one over on Cantor by placing slot machines in "Dreamland" park, with Cantor as current owner who has to get his courage from a book and phonograph record on "Man or Mouse?" A funny scene has him working his spell on tough guy ED BROPHY to the strains of "Dance of the Hours".

SALLY EILERS is the pretty secretary trying to give Cantor some backbone. It's the sort of role Virginia Mayo would later play in Danny Kaye films.

Some of the humor is rather forced and it's all kind of corny, but fun to watch as Cantor gets himself into one situation after another as he confronts the bad guys. Ethel Merman shows up for a couple of so-so song numbers but most of the time she's absent from the scene--and her few songs are not exactly memorable.

On the credit side, the musical sequences include some well choreographed song and dance numbers featuring The Goldwyn Girls, particularly one called "The Lady Dances". But the highlight of the film is the spectacular "Dreamland" chase that has all of the slapstick quality of the great silent chases, inspired by the Buster Keaton-Charlie Chaplin crowd of comics.

Summing up: Will appeal mostly to the admirers of Eddie Cantor's style as the comic foil for villains--and for anyone curious at an early glimpse of Merman.
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Strike Me Stupid-Strike Me Pink **
edwagreen19 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I added one star due to the hilarious slap-stick comedy routine on the wheel at the end of the film. That took real imagination.

As for the rest of the film, we're viewing pure junk as Eddie Cantor portrays Eddie Pink, a jerk who takes over the running of an amusement park and is besieged by gangsters wanting to put slot machines in. Brian Donlevy, a future film villain, has an early role as the head of the gang with no less than William Frawley as one of the gang members.

Ethel Merman, the moll of the gang, belts out songs which are quite appropriate for 1936 times. She attempts to be funny in the make-believe murder scene, but it wouldn't be until 27 years later that Merman would show she was adept at comedy with Stanley Kramer's "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad World" masterpiece.

The film is inane at best.
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Saved only by Cantor
vincentlynch-moonoi4 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
To enjoy this film you need to be able to step back into another era. This film was made just 3 years before "Gone With The Wind", but it's amazing to think about the difference in quality in cinematography and screenplay between the former and the latter. Yes, you have to be willing to step back into that other era, when Eddie Cantor was one of the world's great entertainers.

And, this is not one of the best Eddie Cantor vehicles. In fact, as I was watching, I thought it would have been better for Joe E. Brown. The setting is interesting -- Eddie tries to fend off gangsters whom are trying to install slot machines in the family amusement park he manages. They discover he has a crush on a singer (Ethel Merman) and they use her charms to persuade Eddie all is well (and necessary to save her from harm) with the slot machines.

To be honest, it's often kinda dumb, but sometimes kinda fun. Not the strongest script, but watchable, particularly if you are a fan of the legendary performer. Not one for the DVD shelf, but worth a watch.
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Not a strike out, but not the best of Cantor either.
Poseidon-311 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Following a somewhat similar formula from Cantor's earlier (and, in many ways, superior) films, this vehicle casts him as a quirky wimp who is thrown into unfamiliar territory and comes out on top. Cantor is the owner-operator of a cobbler/dry cleaner shop adjacent to a university. He tutors one of the numb-skulled, but kindly, jocks (Jones) while pining away for nightclub personality Merman, whose photos he keeps pasted in a nearby closet. When Cantor sends away for a book on assertiveness training and starts to practice the lessons, Jones' mother enlists him to help her fend off some thugs who are trying to infest her amusement park with rigged slot machines. Secretary Eilers aids Cantor in growing a backbone against the villainous Donlevy and his thugs, of which Frawley and La Rue are included. He also acquires the "assistance" of a bodyguard played by (and referred to in the film as) Parkyakarkus! Amidst the many failed attempts on his life, he finds time to moon over Merman in scenes that feature elaborate musical numbers. A rowdy finale includes an extended chase on a roller coaster which includes many members of the cast (though, sadly, not Merman.) Cantor is amusing here, though his humor has been tamed a little from the inception of the Hayes Production Code. If the movie falters, it's really more due to the script which lacks proper focus and meanders in several directions without a clear purpose for all of the scenes and characters. Virtually all Cantor movies are fanciful and silly and he's usually thoroughly watchable in them. He just doesn't get quite the mileage out of this that he did in some of his previous projects (and the budget doesn't seem to be as high either.) Merman delivers a couple of striking songs. The first is a moody and arty piece filmed in deep shadows with her face highlighted as she's surrounded by a Black chorus (the men in low cut shirts that reveal chiseled physiques.) She and Cantor share a duet in which they are depicted in old age makeup. Then, all in white, she sings in a big production number that also features a tap dancer whose reflection in the glossy floor has a mind of its own! It's great to see her in these scenes, though she is hardly the heart-stopping, sigh-inducing looker called for in the script. Cantor also has a song with sassy and undulating Drake who dances herself silly. Eilers does a nice job as the sharp assistant and Lowell is amusingly crusty as the park's owner. (A very busy lady, this actress would do about ten more films in a year's time before abruptly dying!) Parkyakarkus is certain to annoy a lot of viewers though sometimes his schtick provides a laugh or two. Some of the film's comedic material falls flat today, more so than in "Kid Millions" or "Roman Scandals" for example, yet it's still an amusing and entertaining little trifle. Some brief, vintage amusement park footage portrays a time, a lifestyle and a place that is forever gone. Frawley would go on, of course, to the legendary TV series "I Love Lucy".
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Lesser Cantor outing.
WesternOne126 January 2019
This one has a slick, expensive look to it, but there's something tired about it, like you'd seen it all before. The humor is stale and highly predictable. The tunes within have to be the most forgettable in all of Cantor's films, indeed, maybe of all films of the decade of the 1930's. Nobody in it has any character depth. Eddie starts out as an easily bullied little nebbish, but just as soon as we meet him, he gets a little mail-order instruction course in how to be assertive. It works, he's self-confident, and he's a regular guy with no interesting character traits any more. To get in more gags and force the desired plot developments, coherence is sacrificed. For instance, Eddie has confidence enough to run the amusement park and stand up to the gangsters, but for no other reason than to make a slapstick sight gag, he meekly, quietly accepts the messy abuse from the potato peeler and beauty mud pitchman. At another point, with the gangsters now posing as police, convince Eddie that they won't take in Ethel as a murder suspect if he'll let crooked slot machines be placed in the park, and Eddie agrees to it. That's a preposterous bit of sloppy writing. It makes no sense. How could Eddie still believe they're cops? Logic takes a beating, and the viewer gets the lumps. The average Joe E. Brown feature has more sophisticated plotting.
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