Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Alice Faye and a bevy of chorus cuties
KING OF BURLESQUE (1936). Director: Sidney Lanfield.

Kerry Bolton (Warner Baxter of Just Before Dawn) has been very successful as a producer of burlesque entertainment, but he longs for Broadway respectability and embarks on a new career. He also decides to romance a society lady named Rosalind Cleve (Mona Barrie), who is down on her luck and already engaged to handsome singer, Stanley Drake (Charles Quigley of The Crimson Ghost). In a bizarre development Rosalind agrees to marry Kerry if the latter will back Drake financially for a career in opera as well as give him the lead in a high-brow Broadway show. Obviously this is not a recipe for marriage -- or musical -- success. In the meantime, Pat Doran (Alice Faye), who's been carrying the torch for Kerry, is heartbroken and leaves his employ. Will true love win out in the end? Since not enough is made of the strange marital triangle, we're left with some winning production numbers, especially when Bolton finally stages his big show for a comeback. You have to see the gals swinging like trapeze artists over a supper club set to believe it. Fats Waller sings "Got My Fingers Crossed;" little Gareth Joplin tap dances his little heart out; Kenny Baker does a sterling rendition of another of the catchy numbers; and a piece with the chorus boys adroitly tap dancing with Faye is also delightful. The leads are all fine, with nice work from Jack Oakie as Kerry's pal, Joe; Dixie Dunbar as secretary turned singer, Marie; and especially Gregory Ratoff [All About Eve] as a man who impersonates a wealthy Russian backer of the revue. This is a near-MGM style musical from Twentieth Century Fox. Remade as Hello, Frisco, Hello, also with Faye and Oakie, and John Payne replacing Warner Baxter.

Verdict: The story takes a back seat to the snappy numbers. ***.


angelman66 said...

Never saw this one, Bill, but I'll check it out. The musical numbers looks great. Loved Warner Baxter as the director who discovered Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street.

William said...

Baxter appeared in a lot of movies, both musicals, and the "Crime Doctor" series, but he never quite attained big star status and is petty much forgotten by all but film buffs today.