Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


What happens when a dance teacher from Boston is shanghaied by pirates?  To find out you have to watch this Poverty Row musical that offers more than you would expect.

Based on the 1930 Collier's story "Glorious Buccaneer" by Emma-Lindsey Squier ( a little-known short story and travel writer; her 1927 collection The Bride of the Sacred Well is lurking somewhere in Mount TBR), which was adapted by Jack Wagner (McFadden's Flats, Little Men, The Pearl) and Boris Ingster (Happy Landing, I'd Give a Million, Southside 1-1000), with a screenplay by Ray Harris (Bride of the Regiment, Man on the Flying Trapeze, Hillbilly Blitzkrieg) and Francis Edwards Faragoh (Frankenstein, My Friend Flicka, Easy Come, Easy Go), this flick was "FILMED 100% IN THE NEW TECHNICOLOR" -- something that is hard to believe because this print is black and white.

The star of this film was the very talented, very under-used Charles Collins.  Collins was a dancer and actor in vaudeville, theater, and films, but his few leading roles were in films that gained too little attention.  According to one source, he was too tall and too thin to click with the audiences of the day.  In later years he became a talent agent (Edward Everett Horton was one of his clients).

Co-starring with Collins was the great Frank Morgan, born Francis Wupperman to the wealthy co-founder of  Angostura Aromatic Bitters which was used in drinks and cocktails, best known for his role as the title character in The Wizard of Oz.  Morgan appeared in 100 films, often elevating the movies more than they deserved.  Four of his films were nominated for and Oscar, winning once with 1936's The Great Zeigfield.

Hungarian actress Steffi Duna played the lead female role, Serafina Perena.  With her exoptic looks, she was often cast in supporting roles of various nationalities, most often Hispanic although she was also cast once as an Eskimo.  She was married to B movie star Dennis O'Keefe from 1940 until his death in 1968.

Lower on the list of credits you will find movie tough guy Jack La Rue.  Names you won't see one the credits are those whose fame lay in the future:  Rita Hayworth as an uncredited Specialty Dancer, Marjorie Reynolds (Peg Riley in television's Life of Riley) as an uncredited Dancer, and Pat Ryan as an uncredited Dance-Class Student.  (What?  Pat who? you say.  You may know her better under her future  married name, Pat Nixon.)

A few other interesting tidbits:  Merian Cooper, of King KongMighty Joe Young, and The Searchers fame, was the executive producer.  The versatile actor/writer/director Lloyd Corrigan helmed Dancing Pirate.  Visual effects were by Willis O'Brien -- supposedly his first in a color film (there really must be some colored prints somewhere out there).  The film features two songs by Rogers & Hart.

All in all, a lot of talent for a low budget film.


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