April 4, 2010

The Irregular Blather Apr. 4, 1931

No Journal was published Saturday, Apr. 4, 1931, following Good Friday. A few videos of the week:

Some great music this week. Here's a delightful 1934 short film starring Cab Calloway, mentioned Mar. 30: stage show that accompanied the movie "more than compensated," featuring Bill [Bojangles] Robinson, Cab Calloway and his Cotton Club Orchestra, a large chorus, and two excellent comedians; the "stirring presentation" more than justified its name "Hot From Harlem." Seems Cab and his band are travelling to New York in a Pullman car when he gets a telegram saying they need a new opening number by tomorrow morning ...

Play "Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho" on Youtube

And here he is about 45 years later, performing his trademark Minnie the Moocher song in The Blues Brothers (I don't care what all the critics said, I kind of liked that movie ...):

Play "Cab Calloway's Minnie the Moocher" on Youtube

Here's Turn on the Heat, a catchy 1929 song from Horace Heidt and His Californians, mentioned Apr. 2 as appearing at the Palace: big band show, "even more lively than usual. While this organization's somewhat childish collegiate manner" might prove annoying on repeated viewings, "there is no gainsaying the spirited, almost breath-taking character of their offerings ... a rapid routine of orchestral numbers, songs and dances which are original and diverting." Songs include the popular "Peanut Vendor"; "dance numbers include interesting burlesque conceptions of the Russian, Scotch, Apache and Classic Greek styles." Bill also included Lobo II, a trained German police dog, comedienne Rosetta Duncan, a Smith & Dale skit about quarreling real estate partners and Jack McLallen dancing on roller skates.

Play "Turn on the Heat" on Youtube

Youtube has a complete version of The Bad Sister, mentioned Apr. 1: Adapted from Booth Tarkington's novel "The Flirt." Pampered daughter of small-town family forges her father's name for the sake of a handsome swindler from the city, but repents later, returns, and marries least attractive of her former suitors; her plainer sister marries the man she would have had she not turned "bad." Story can hardly compete with tales of "gangsters and wealthy city-dwellers" more popular today, but well produced and will interest those who still prefer Tarkington's characters to those of Ernest Hemingway or Ben Hecht. Sidney Fox shows star potential in the lead role; in the supporting cast, Humphrey Bogart is excellent as the city swindler and Bette Davis is convincing as the plain sister.

Play "The Bad Sister" on Youtube

And, finally, a not-very-good trailer for The Finger Points, mentioned Apr. 3: Second film to open in a week based on murder of Jake Lingle, Chicago reporter [shot dead June 9, 1930 in a crowded pedestrian tunnel under a Chicago train station - murder shocked the nation and Lingle was hailed as a martyr, until it was discovered he was on Al Capone's payroll]. Starring Richard Barthelmess and Fay Wray; once again, Clark Gable plays the gang lord who orders the killing. This time the writers come closer to telling the truth about events leading to the killing. However, though "the individual scenes are handled with resourcefulness and competently acted ... the trouble with the film is the incredibility of the plot and treatment of character."

Watch “trailer for The Finger Points” on tcm.com

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