Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Today is Jack Oakie's birthday.  To celebrate, here's a 1934 mystery with Oakie playing Jack Ellery, the stage manager for the musical review Earl Carrol's Vanities.  When someone tries to injure the show's leading lady Ann Ware (Kitty Carlisle in her film debut), Ellery calls on his friend, policeman Bill Murdock (Victor McLaughlin), to investigate.  Eventually there's a murder (an unknown woman found on a catwalk) and Murdock suspects the leading man Eric Lnder (Carl Brisson), who happens to be Ann Ware's fiance.  You know that the murder will play second fiddle to the musical numbers in this pre-Code film.

Did I say pre-Code?  One musical  number, "Sweet Marijuana" from Gertrude Michael, features nudity, blood, drug references, and swearing.  (Bette Midler covered that one in the 1970s.)  Also featured was the hit song "Cocktails for Two."  Duke Ellington and His Orchestra add to the musical talent.

And the cast is incredible:  Toby Wing, Charles Middleton, Donald Meek, and Gail Patrick. Look closely and you'll find Lucille Ball, Alan Ladd, Dennis O'Keefe, and Ann Sheridan in uncredited roles.

Directed by Mitchell Leisen (Death Takes a Holiday, Frenchmen's Creek, The Big Broadcast of 1938) and adapted by Carey Wilson (Mutiny on the Bounty, Green Dolphin Street, Scaramouche) from the play by Earl Carroll and mystery writer Rufus King.


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