Lyrics by Lorenz
Music by Richard Rodgers
Produced by Paramount Picture
Directed by Norman Taurog
, 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.
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 roleÑa 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.
33" nowrap> Post
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.