Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Hullabaloo (1940)

HULLABALOO is a very strange MGM "B" movie which almost defies description.

The plot is a confusing hodgepodge concerning Frank Morgan trying to get a radio job to support his three ex-wives and three children. The huge cast, which includes some young actors on their way up in the MGM system and a variety of fine character actors, provides what entertainment value there is, but the film isn't up to MGM's typical standards. It's a bit of a relief when it comes to an end.

Billie Burke, Sara Haden, and Connie Gilchrist play Morgan's ex-wives, with Nydia Westman appearing as prospective wife No. 4. Morgan's children are played by lovely Virginia Grey, Leni Lynn, and Larry Nunn.

Dan Dailey (billed as Dan Dailey Jr.) is a young radio station manager who starts out engaged to the station owner's daughter (Ann Morriss) but soon finds himself attracted to Grey.

Virginia O'Brien and Charles Holland sing specialty numbers which provide the greatest entertainment value, although the lyrics of "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny" are painfully politically incorrect. Holland has a superb voice, and O'Brien sings both her numbers with her patented deadpan style. Lynn, a teen soprano, performs a pleasant version of "I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair."

The movie has way too much going on, and the plot device which has Morgan supposedly able to imitate the voices of a variety of actors is annoyingly phony; it sounded as though Robert Taylor dubbed in the lines for Morgan's imitation of his voice, and other actors' voices were clearly used as well, such as when Morgan "performs" a scene from the 1940 film BOOM TOWN.

The supporting cast includes Reginald Owen, Donald Meek, Curt Bois, Barnett Parker, and Leo Gorcey.

HULLABALOO was directed by Edwin L. Marin. It was shot in black and white and runs 78 minutes.

HULLABALOO is not on video or DVD, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. (Update: This film is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.)

The trailer can be viewed here.


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