GEORGE WHITE’S SCANDALS (director: Felix E. Feist; screenwriters: Howard J. Green/Peter Levy; cinematographer: Robert de Grasse; editor: Joseph Noriega; music: Constantin Bakaleinikoff; cast: Joan Davis (Joan Mason), Jack Haley (Jack Evans), Phillip Terry (Tom McGrath), Martha Holliday (Jill Asbury/Jill Martin), Margaret Hamilton (Clarabelle Evans), Glenn Tryon (George White), Bettejane Greer (Billie Randall), Audrey Young (Maxine Manners), Rose Murphy (Hilda), Fritz Feld (M. Montescu), Gene Krupa (Himself), Neely Edwards (Lord Quimby); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George White; RKO; 1945)
“A tepid backstage musical based on the George White’s Scandals extravaganzas on Broadway.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A tepid backstage musical based on the George White’s Scandals stage extravaganzas that date back to the Prohibition era; it comes with a tacked on fabricated story line. It’s similar to the 1934 and 1935 films on White; he was the Broadway rival to Flo Ziegfeld and his Follies. Felix Feist (“Reckless Age”) directs and it’s written by Howard J. Green and Peter Levy.
The plot centers around the twenty-sixth reunion of the Scandals Club, which is comprised of women performers of the George White’s Scandals show. At the reunion Joan Mason (Joan Davis) tells everyone that she’s engaged to fellow performer Jack Evans (Jack Haley). Jack’s dour spinster sister Clarabelle openly disapproves of Joan because she’s in showbiz and reminds her brother that he promised at his mother’s death bed not to marry before she did. The lovers scheme to get the old battleaxe a man, M. Montescu (Fritz Feld), but things fall apart when Clarabelle discovers he was hired by Joan through an escort service.
At rehearsals, Tom McGrath (Phillip Terry), the show’s gruff but big-hearted bachelor manager hires as a chorine by mistake named Jill Asbury (Martha Holliday). She’s the daughter of former Scandals dancer Molly Hoganfor, one of the chorus girls who left the show to marry the Englishman Lord Asbury. Tom hires her under the alias Jill Martin, as the socialite fakes being a struggling dancer because she’s smitten with Tom. She then gets Joan to keep her identity a secret. After Jill does her dance number, Tom is so impressed he offers her the starring role promised to Billie (Bettejane Greer). The enraged Billie learns Jill’s real identity and spills the beans to the embarrassed British Embassy delegate Lord Quimby, who tries to get her to withdraw. Tom goes nuts when he learns about Jill’s deception, and Jill runs away.
Miraculously a happy ending is achieved for both Joan and Jill, as Clarabelle gives her approval to the marriage when accidentally conked on the noggin by a backstage sandbag and Jill performs when she finds out her folks are thrilled that she’s in the show and Tom relents.
The film’s musical highlights include a drum performance by Gene Krupa and his band, and the duet by Joan Davis and Jack Haley of “Who Killed Vaudeville?”.
REVIEWED ON 6/30/2006 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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