Musical numbers
  • The Country Needs A Man
  • Somebody Ought to wave a Flag
  • The Medicine Show
  • Give Her A Kiss
  • The Convention
  • There is he- Theodore K. Blair
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Music by Richard Rodgers
Produced by Paramount Picture
Directed by Norman Taurog
Starring: George M. Cohan, Jimmy Durante and Claudette Colbert
Screenplay by Walter DeLeon
Too bad for presidential hopes of banker T.K. Blair; his party feels he has too little flair for savoir faire. But at a medicineshow, the party bosses find Blair's double huckster Doc Varney. Of course, they scheme to make Varney T.K.'s publicspokesman; at first, he even fools Blair's girlfriend Felicia, providing a romantic complication. As election eve approaches, theconspirators face the problem of what to do with Varney...who has difficult decisions of his own to make.


George M. Cohan and Claudette Colbert
A political satire holding a full share of laughs, it's about the first of its type for the screen, certainly as to the musical comedy vein. A lot of smart stuff packed into this footage including a gem of an opening sequence which is done in meter and kids the country's general condition.

For George M. Cohan it suffices to say that this is his first picture and maybe his last. For pictures such as these, light and frothy, he brings nothing to the screen which it has not already at hand.

With Claudette Colbert wasted in an inconsequential role, it leaves everything up to Jimmy Durante. They evidently just let Durante alone and allowed him to play bis scenes about as he pleased.

The story [from a novel by G. F Worts] has Cohan playing a dual rule. As T. K Blair he's the colorless banker whom his party would make president but fears it can't because of his lack of personality. In playing Peter Varney, the medicine show man, Cohan is unquestionably happier with circumstances bringing about his substituting for Blair during the pre-election campaign. Mixed into this is the girl (Colbert) who senses something different when in the presence of Varney, but who can't figure it out. With Blair planning to rid himself of Varney, Colbert intervenes and it's the banker who's whisked from the scene on election day and Varney coasts to the White House.

Meanwhile there's Durante as Varney's helper who finally gains entrance to the convention hall and by the simple expedient of adapting his medicine show technique to the occasion stampedes his pal into the nomination. It's the high action mark of the film, done in rhythm and lyrics [by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart] with the assembled delegates acting as the chorus.


This musical political satire was George M. Cohan's first talking picture; for anyone who cares about American theatrical history it's an indispensable record of Cohan's style which is almost nothing like the styles of James Cagney and Joel Grey when they played Cohan (on the screen and the stage, respectively). Cohan is dapper and bland; he seems to wear a mask of ordinariness, and only the droopy-lidded eyes, and sometimes the awareness in the smile, clue us in to the theatrical instinct at work. One doesn't know quite what to make of him or his smooth technique. There's a good satirical idea here: Cohan plays a double role√Ďa quiet Presidential candidate and the extroverted look-alike who campaigns for him. With Claudette Colbert, Jimmy Durante, Alan Mowbray, George Barbier, Sidney Toler, and Jameson Thomas. Norman Taurog directed, for Paramount.

Pauline Kael

33" nowrap>  Post Script    

Taurog clearly did not think Cohan could carry off a ballad, so Rodgers and Hart came up with a song the birds, bees, and frogs could "sing" originally the camera was to hold on Colbert while a lady frog sang Colbert's "thoughts" and then on Cohan while a male frog "replied" .Then birds and bees-clunky models that wouldn't have fooled a ten-year-old kid even then-would adjure him to Give Her A Kiss.

In the final print, the verse was cut, leaving the whole scene looking like an afrerthought. Colbert is stranded; Cohan merely looks uncomfortable.

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